Monday, 23 January 2012
Jane Austen, A Life by Claire Tomalin
I started this book just at the end of last year, and finished it the other day. What a wonderful book. From actually very little evidence, Claire Tomalin has managed to piece together a very creditable account of Jane Austen's life. I've never felt that the sainted Jane was a shrinking violet - her novels are sharp, witty and to the point, with a lot of truth in them about human weakness, vanity and the way that people are incredibly unpleasant to each other while maintaining a social mask.
It is particularly strong on Mansfield Park, a book I'm ashamed to say I've only read once. While I know Persuasion backwards, and Pride and Prejudice very well indeed, Mansfield Park's difficult, unloveable heroine has never really appealed to me, but having read this excellent analysis, I am going to give it another go. I'm sure Jane Austen is overjoyed to hear it.