Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Deirdre LeFaye/JANE AUSTEN: THE WORLD OF HER NOVELS
In this lively and readable overview, LeFaye tackles Jane Austen's life, times, and background for each of her six books (she even discusses the unfinished seventh). As a Jane Austen fan, I was pretty riveted; the only "boring" portions were the plot summaries, a small component of the book, but I found myself even enjoying those because the author jammed them full of trivia about where Jane got her ideas, etc.
I was particularly interested in the book as a publishing professional because of the components describing Jane's writing and publication processes (I collapsed some, but not all, of the interesting points into this blog post awhile back). But there are so many very interesting topics to cover--for example, in a world so focused on propriety and manners, what would one do if one happened to be at a neighbor's house when one had to do a poo? How did these super-proper people keep themselves clean when there was no hot water in the winter? I was fascinated to read about how dangerous carriage rides could actually be, or how truly daunting travel was and why.
Best is that there is nothing dry about the telling of all this, despite the author's scholarly background and (obvious) copious research. Anyone who is a Jane Austen fan or a history buff will not be able to put it down.