Commissioned by the producers of the new movie Belle, acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne aims to reveal the true story behind the main characters in theCommissioned by the producers of the new movie Belle, acclaimed biographer Paula Byrne aims to reveal the true story behind the main characters in the movie: Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an African slave, and her great-uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield (1705-93) and Lord Chief Justice of the King’s Bench. Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice is both a companion volume to the popular movie and a time capsule into the turbulent abolition movement in the late eighteenth-century England.
Inspired by the 1779 portrait of Dido and her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray, screenwriter Misan Sagay has written a compelling story based on facts she first learned of while visiting the 2007, Slavery and Justice Exhibition. Dido and Elizabeth were Lord Mansfield’s wards and raised together at Caen Wood House, now know as Kenwood House on Hampstead Heath near London. While the screenplay is based on actual facts, it also incorporates a fictional narrative worthy of a seventh Jane Austen novel. In contrast, Belle: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice is an historical account of the people and times and not a novelization of the movie.
Movies (and novels) based on real people and events always intrigue me, especially those set in my favorite time period, Georgian England. I was aware of the Jane Austen connection to this story from a JASNA Persuasions Online article Ambiguous Cousinship: Mansfield Park and the Mansfield Family, by Christine Kenyon Jones. We know from Austen’s letters that she met Dido’s cousin Lady Elizabeth Finch-Hatton (nee Murray) several times from 1805-1813 while visiting her elder brother Edward in Kent. If Lady Finch-Hatton or Austen’s family revealed the story of the two cousins is uncertain, but she would have known of their guardian Lord Mansfield’s significant 1772 ruling against slavery. There are also many striking similarities beyond her use of Mansfield in the title of her third novel. Was Austen’s heroine Fanny Price inspired by the circumstances of Dido Elizabeth Belle and the strong winds against slavery in the air? Fanny is not black, but she is a slave to the Bertram’s all the same. Janeites will be also pleased to find that Byrne has included an appendix detailing Jane Austen’s Mansfield Connection.
Dido’s story begins justly with the inspiration to the movie—the girl in the picture. This is the perfect setup for those (like me) who are fascinated by portraiture during this era. Attributed to Johann Zoffany, who has also been mis-credited for a portrait of a young girl strongly thought to be Jane Austen,the painting is indicative of this time portraying so much more than the subject’s likeness. Through composition, color, light and iconography the artist reveals their sitter’s personality and social status through choice of clothing, position and attitude, objects that they hold or are placed near them, and the landscape that they are situated within. However, this portrait of two young women is significant beyond its subject’s beauty, or its artistic merits; it displays two finely dressed young women, one white and one black, positioned as equals. This mixed-race pairing, when African people where considered inferior and presumed to be slaves because of the color of their skin, would have been shocking to eighteenth-century society. The fact that Lord Mansfield commissioned the portrait of his two nieces together is a testament to his beliefs and his underlying commitment to aid, through his rulings on British law, the abolition of slavery. That is the axis of the movie and this book.
In subsequent chapters Byrne continues to reveal what is known of Dido’s father, Sir John Lindsay (1737-1788), a captain in the Royal Navy and later Rear Admiral of the Red, and her mother Maria Belle, his prisoner after capturing a Spanish ship bound for the West Indies. Chapters continue on William Murray, the most distinguished and powerful lawyer of his day, sugar plantations in the English colonies, Liverpool as a hub of import and despair, the anti-slavery movement, Murray and the Zong massacre, and the eventual marriage of Dido and her death.
While much is known about Britain’s slave trade economy during this time, and Murray’s legal decisions that helped to abolish slavery, history reveals only basic information about our main subject, Dido Elizabeth Belle. She was after all, not a public figure, but a mixed race woman during a time of great prejudice and persecution who was educated to be a lady, yet was not welcome in that social sphere. Her personal story had been forgotten with time—even by the Murray family who still own the portrait. Until the 1980′s, they assumed that the young black woman next to their kinswoman Lady Elizabeth Murray was her servant. Bell: The Slave Daughter and the Lord Chief Justice thoughtfully reveals how Dido’s story is both emotionally moving and historically significance.
Byrne’s research and writing was as enjoyable as her approach to The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things. She has the ability to mine gold from dry facts and spin them into a bewitching web for the modern reader. While the historical details about the slave trade and the abolition movement were very interesting, there is very little detail about the main subject, Dido Elizabeth Belle. No letters, no diaries or family recollections of Dido survive. Only historical documentation: her christening, her marriage, her inheritances and her death. At first I felt deceived by the title and cover. Was this really her story? No, in all honestly, it is not. But on deeper reflection, the fictionalized movie gave me what I craved: the personal drama, romance and moving character arc. In this instance it is her portrait, the people and history surrounding her that tell us the story of a young woman who changed the outcome of slavery by just being herself.
Great choice for a first biography of Lady Emma Hamilton. Well written and researched with beautiful illustrations. Out of print, but I easily found aGreat choice for a first biography of Lady Emma Hamilton. Well written and researched with beautiful illustrations. Out of print, but I easily found a second hand copy from an online retailer. ...more
Tea passed pleasantly, and nobody seemed in a hurry to move. – Jane Austen, Emma, Chapter 41
Taking tea is so quintessentially British. You cannot thinTea passed pleasantly, and nobody seemed in a hurry to move. – Jane Austen, Emma, Chapter 41
Taking tea is so quintessentially British. You cannot think of that noble nation without envisioning its residents with a tea cup in one hand and a cucumber sandwich in the other. English novelist Jane Austen mentions tea no less than 49 times in her major works. The popularity of tea has grown even more since her Regency times, evolving during the Victorian era into a light meal served at four in the afternoon: resplendent with white linen, silver trays, scones and clotted cream. Today, in our fast-paced-world of takeout food and frozen dinners, attending a tea party at a friend’s home or tea room is an event to be cherished and savored. The calming ritual and lively conversation is the ultimate indulgence that has not changed for polished society for four hundred years.
The tale of tea is a captivating story revealed in A Social History of Tea, a new expanded second edition by British tea authority Jane Pettigrew and American tea historian Bruce Richardson. Originally published in 2001 by The National Trust, this new edition has been revised and expanded and includes the research of two tea authorities from both sides of the pond. We are so internationally bipartisan these days—I am sure that mad King George III must be rolling in his grave!
Having long been a “tea advocate” I knew of Mr. Richardson from my cherished subscription to TeaTime magazine. I was thrilled to discover that he would be a speaker at the 2013 Jane Austen Society of North America’s Annual General Meeting in Minneapolis. I missed his talk, Society Steeped in Tea, but glowing reports piqued my interest in obtaining a copy of his new book with Pettigrew. I was not disappointed. Beautifully designed with 150 full color images, this tome on the evolution of tea through the last four centuries and its influence on society and world economics is fascinating. Broken down into an introduction, six major chapters, a select bibliography, a list of illustration credits and an index, readers can easily use A Social History of Tea as either an illustrated history, a reference book, or purely a pleasure read, depending on their mood. Being a Janeite, I jumped to the index and skimmed for Jane Austen’s name. Huzzah. There she is on page 127 in a featurette entitled Tea in Literature with Charles Dickens and Lewis Carroll, two other famous British authors from the 1800’s who show that taking tea was an excellent way to bring characters together in a prudential parlor or at a mad tea party. Several passages illustrating Austen’s use of “tea-things” by her characters are featured from her novels, and if we pay attention, the timing of when they are taking tea gives us a social insight into when it was drunk and what was served with it.
“The next opening of the door brought something more welcome: it was for the tea–things, which she had begun almost to despair of seeing that evening…Fanny was very thankful. She could not but own that she should be very glad of a little tea, and Susan immediately set about making it, as if pleased to have the employment all to herself…Fanny’s spirit was as much refreshed as her body; her head and heart were soon the better for such well–timed kindness.” – Mansfield Park, Chapter 38
Richly detailed and agreeably accessible, A Social History of Tea is both enlightening and entertaining. Every important historical, economic and social aspect is covered. I particularly appreciated the details surrounding the forming and growth of The East India Trading Company, the Boston Tea Party of 1773 which sparked the American Revolution, and the rise of tea rooms suitable for respectable ladies to dine out at the end of the nineteenth century. We can also thank the Victorian’s for raising tea-time to an art form chock-full of the incredibly delicious fare we enjoy today.
In Jane Austen’s world “tea meant rest and pleasure, and its absence would be a severe disappointment.” (127) Pettigrew and Richardson have combined detailed history, social asides and beautiful illustrations covering the four centuries that we have enjoyed tea—its rise and fall in popularity—and rebirth. A Social History of Tea is the resource for those who would like to discover even more about this delectable beverage. There is a guaranteed abundance of rest and pleasure on every page. I recommend it highly.
How many Wickham’s, Willoughby’s or Mr. Collins’ have you met before a Captain Wentworth, Mr. Knightley, or (miracle of miracles) Mr. Darcy landed onHow many Wickham’s, Willoughby’s or Mr. Collins’ have you met before a Captain Wentworth, Mr. Knightley, or (miracle of miracles) Mr. Darcy landed on your doorstep? For the benefit of those who may not know who those gentlemen are, they are male characters in Jane Austen novels. They teach her heroines important life lessons about romance and love, and if one is paying attention, one can glean more than just the experience of reading a masterpiece of literature. Not only is Jane Austen a brilliant writer, she is a great life coach too.
We have long harbored the belief that everything you need to know about life and love is right there among the pages of Austen’s six major works. So does author Elizabeth Kantor. Her new relationship book, The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, will explain it all in an insightful and entertaining way. Even this grizzled Janeite learned more than a thing or two.
The book is broken down into sixteen lively chapters, like: What Do Women Really Want from Jane Austen?; Don’t be a Tragic Heroine; Jane Austen’s Skeleton Keys to a Man’s Potential; or Arrange Your Own Marriage in the Most Pleasant Manner Possible. There’s even a fifteen page appendix questioning if Jane Austen novels are just entertainment or did she really intended to give us relationship advice – and eighty-four pages of numbered notes citing every source used on every page. Yes, gentle readers. Kantor has researched the heck out of this subject and it shows.
There is just so much to delight in this book that one barely knows where to begin praising it. Besides the friendly and accessible voice by its benevolent authoress, we just love the helpful format. Kantor has a lot to say in each of the chapters, but the density is broken up with insightful “Tips for Janeites” text boxes, subheadings categorizing subjects within the chapters, and a chapter summary at the end featuring three highlights: Adopt a Jane Austen Attitude; What Would Jane Austen Do?; and If We Really Want to Bring Back Jane Austen. In between there is a wealth of relationship knowledge, helpful advice, and a whole lot of fun. Connecting Jane Austen’s characters, plots and shrewd observations of human nature is just what our often befuddled twenty-first century relationship sensibilities need. Our favorite part was chapter twelve: “He Had No Intensions At All” How to Recognize Men Who Are “Just Not That into You.” Wow! We wish we had this book in our teens. *queue to every mom, aunt, or friend to buy The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After for a loved one*
We had the honor of being one of the first to read an advanced copy and were immediately smitten. It was no hardship to offer this blurb for the back of the book:
“Influenced by the master of love and romance, Elizabeth Kantor’s wise, witty, and insightful book should be added to Mr. Darcy’s reading list for any truly accomplished woman. It will transform you into the heroine of your own life.”
Season two of Downton Abbey has concluded and we are left in limbo until it returns next Fall in the UK and January 2013 in the US.
For thoSeason two of Downton Abbey has concluded and we are left in limbo until it returns next Fall in the UK and January 2013 in the US.
For those like myself who, have watched and re-watched every blessed minute, yet, just can’t get enough of the award winning ITV/PBS television mini-series Downton Abbey and are in total Downton withdrawal, may I suggests this stunning full-color coffee table-sized book about the series, THE WORLD OF DOWNTON ABBEY?
The publisher touts it as a “lavish look at the real world--both the secret history and the behind-the-scenes drama--of the spellbinding Emmy Award-winning Masterpiece TV series Downton Abbey.” This is no idle boast. From cover to cover this 303 page oversized-volume is packed with sumptuous full-color pictures of the production, the cast, historical connections and its shining star, Highclere Castle, the grand manor house in Hampshire where the series is filmed.
The author Jessica Fellowes is the niece of the series creator and writer Julian Fellowes. Not only does she have the inside scoop into the production of the series, she is also well qualified to write the text as a journalist and the former Deputy Editor of Country Life magazine. Equally important is the photographer Nick Briggs, who captures intimate and awe inspiring images of the production that send us back into memorable scenes or highlight costuming and scenery.
Organized into nine chapters: Family Life; Society; Change; Life in Service; Style; House & Estate; Romance; War; and Behind the Scenes, each chapter is written in context to the series characters and their roles and included pertinent quotes from the screenplay illustrating key scenes and events in the series”
‘I mean, one way or another, everyone goes down the aisle with half the story hidden.’ Violet, The Dowager Countess
There are also quotes from the actors and actresses about their characters:
‘There’s an independence about Mary – she’s not influenced by anyone and she’s very much her own person, she makes her own decisions. I understand her because I’m one of three girls too and I’ve always been defiant that I didn’t want to do what they did.’ Michelle Dockery
…and from the creator:
‘There’s an element of performance. They were all performing a role that had been decreed for them. For and aristocrat to be convincing, he must look like an aristocrat.’ Julian Fellowes
I particularly enjoyed the insights from the costume designer Susannah Buxton on her research influences for the clothing and the historical vignettes that linked the series to actual period personalities such as Daisy, Countess of Warwick, and Mary Leiter, an American buccaneer that inspired Julian Fellowes to create the character of Cora Levinson who married Robert, the future Earl of Grantham in 1889.
Overall, the most spectacular impression from this volume is its sheer bulk and beauty. Any Downtonite, Edwardian historian, or period drama lover could get lost in this volume for days. Creator Julian Fellowes rightfully opens the book with a brief forward, offering us insights and asides, yet, I felt quite cheated that Violet, The Dowager Countess of Grantham was not given the last word.
Beautifully designed compacted edition for Jane Austen diversions on the go
For those addicted to brain teasers and Jane Austen, I have the prefect divBeautifully designed compacted edition for Jane Austen diversions on the go
For those addicted to brain teasers and Jane Austen, I have the prefect diversion for you. The Puzzle Society™ has assembled this tidy Pocket Posh® edition of crosswords, quizzes, word searches, codewords and more, all inspired by Jane Austen, her novels and her world.
Challenge your knowledge of “our” Jane in this compact pocket edition wrapped in a beautiful Renaissance rose pattern cover design, bound by elastic band closure with smooth rounded edges. Slip it in your purse, backpack or brief case Janeites with the assurance that you will expand your knowledge and appreciation of our favorite author while on the go.
The puzzles are geared for Austen enthusiast and might stymie a layman, but it will challenge you into discovering the answers.
Behind every unforgettable heroine stands her remarkable creator. Debut author Erin Blakemore explores this theme in The Heroine’s Bookshelf, twelve eBehind every unforgettable heroine stands her remarkable creator. Debut author Erin Blakemore explores this theme in The Heroine’s Bookshelf, twelve essays devoted to her favorite literary heroines and the unique correlation between their writer’s life and the character she created. From Jane Austen’s spirited impertinence of Elizabeth Bennet, to the effervescent optimism of Lucy Maude Montgomery’s Anne Shirley, to the dogged determination of Margaret Mitchell’s Scarlet O’Hara, anyone who has ever sought solace in the pages of a classic novel or inspiration for new perspective during troubling times will be enthralled by every essay in this book.
Literature is comfort food for me and there is something inherently reassuring about reconnecting again with the books that we read for the first time during our childhood and early adult years. Blakemore and I share this affinity which she elaborates upon in her introduction.
“Call me a coward if you will, but when the lines between duty and sanity blur, you can usually find me curled up with a battered book, reading as if my mental health depended on it. And it does, for inside the books I love I find food, respite, escape, and perspective. I find something else too: heroines and authors, hundreds of them, women whose real and fictitious lives have covered the terrain I too must tread.”
The twelve heroines and their authors she chose to evaluate and share with us are several of my favorite too. Some fight physical hardships, poverty and hatred, snobbery and prejudice and emotional insecurities, and others the foibles and follies of human nature. Each is memorable to me because they faced struggles and challenges, confronted them boldly and creatively, and emerged victorious; a stronger and better person for their endeavor. Just their names alone: Scout Finch, Jane Eyre, Francine Nolan, Mary Lennox, Jo Marsh and Laura Ingalls evoke nostalgia, sending me in an instant to a faraway happy place of comfort, adventure and romance. In addition to revisiting my favorite heroines, my pleasure was heightened by knowledge of their author’s lives that I had not previously known, giving me a deeper understanding and respect for each of the heroines and their creators.
Besides blogging about Jane Austen, I am a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. Occasionally, when a book just bowls me over like The Heroine’s Bookshelf, I select it as my staff rec and talk it up amongst my fellow booksellers. A group of us were seated in the break room yesterday afternoon; ladies who are passionate about reading and love classic literature. As I lifted up the cover and firmly told everyone that this book is a must read, I proceeded to list all of the twelve heroine’s discussed. The ooo’s, ahh’s and immediate enthusiastic chatter that erupted sent shivers up the back of my neck. Just the mention of each heroine’s name sparked such vivid and happy memories. Everyone had their favorite heroine and a personal story to go with it. It was like a drug, a literary endorphin rush! I asked who wanted to read my copy next and a unanimous reply of “me” resounded like the joyous hallelujah chorus in Handle’s Messiah! Sweet music for a passionate reader, joyous bookseller, and dedicated book blogger.
The Heroine’s Bookshelf is a frothy literary latte; rich and sweet and deeply satisfying. Beautifully designed, it will make the perfect gift for the literature lover in your family or circle of friends. I wholeheartedly praise it to the skies and recommend it to all who wish to become the heroine of their own life.
What child of the 70's did not know about THE OFFICIAL PREPPY HANDBOOK? It was my bible to be in the know about this sub-culture. I lived in Izod shirWhat child of the 70's did not know about THE OFFICIAL PREPPY HANDBOOK? It was my bible to be in the know about this sub-culture. I lived in Izod shirts and Sperry topsider shoes for years. Now Lisa Birnbach, doyen of the prep world, has an updated edition for the 2010's. Now that 30 years have passed since the preppy craze, this topic is not as fresh, nor as fashionable, which is a big obstacle for the reader. These character types seem not politically correct anymore (or funny) and I felt ashamed that I once aspired to be prep. I really wanted to love this book and expected cheeky humor and insider info, but instead found a parody of the original that was quite the opposite....more
“Jane’s got more adoring female fans than Brad Pitt, and my guess is they’re more intelligent too!” Terrence Hill
Given the choice of reading Pride an“Jane’s got more adoring female fans than Brad Pitt, and my guess is they’re more intelligent too!” Terrence Hill
Given the choice of reading Pride and Prejudice or watching a football game, which do you think the average all American male would choose? If this is a no brainer, you have recognized the male/female divide of how men and women think and feel differently, and the reason why the “Two Guys”, Steve and Terry were lured by their wives into writing their new book Two Guys Read Jane Austen in the first place.
Lifelong friends for over fifty years, these “Two Guys” are a perfect pair to chat about a subject where most men fear to tread. Both professional writers with impressive resumes, Steve Chandler is a best selling author, business coach and corporate trainer, and Terrence Hill, award winning adman, poet, short story and stage play writer, adding clout and experience to their observations. This is their third book in the critically-acclaimed “Two Guys” series and may be their biggest challenge yet – Jane Austen – who the guys admit is a hot property and hope might garner big royalties ala best selling author John Grisham! They are of course only kidding, typical of this epistolary missive that is formatted like an e-mail in box with actual correspondence between the two authors as they read Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park together. What evolves is not only an insightful and funny male perspective of two typically female favorite classic books, but their views on Jane Austen’s impact on modern culture, and pretty much all around story swapping guy style.
What I found most enjoyable about this book was their open attitude to read and understand Austen without prejudice. They give honest opinions of her strengths and weaknesses in her plot, characters and style, but do not bash or berate her because her themes of marriage, romance and view of her society appeal mostly to women. Instead, she has become androgynous, and enjoyed for her brilliant style, biting wit and memorable characters. Add to that the “Two Guys” special anecdotes and personal stories from their lives and modern media, and you have a hilarious and ‘Austentatious’ combination. A quick fun read, this book would be an excellent gift for any Austen fan, or Austen fan who wants to prove to their significant other that their admiration of all things Austen is not just a girl thing!
A compact view of "Jenny Austen's" life through a Christian lense
There are several biographies in print on Jane Austen (1775-1817) revealing her life,A compact view of "Jenny Austen's" life through a Christian lense
There are several biographies in print on Jane Austen (1775-1817) revealing her life, family and her inspiration to become a writer. Two very famous books come to mind: Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin (1998) and oddly the same title published in the same year by David Nokes. Both books were extensively researched and are quite lengthy. This new slim volume by Austen scholar Dr. Peter Leithart runs 153 pages and fills an entirely different niche. While the lengthier and exhaustive expositions might appeal to historical researchers, biography enthusiasts and her dedicated fans, the size alone would intimidate the average reader or student seeking the “sparks notes” version so-to-speak of her life. In addition, very few biographies reflect upon the influence of her Anglican faith as a guide to the Christian morality in her life and novels. In the introduction Dr. Leithart’s summarizes his motivation for writing the book and its emphasis:
“In the brief compass of this biography, I have tried to capture the varied sides of Austen’s character. Early biographers often turned her into a model of Victorian Christian domestic femininity, and emphasized her Christian faith in an evangelical idiom she never used. In reaction, many more recent biographers all but ignore her faith. Both of those extremes distort Austen’s life and personality. I have tried to depict accurately the depth and sincerity of her Christianity, as well as her Anglican discomfort with religious emotion, but without losing sight of the other sides of her complex character –her playfulness, her satiric gift for ridicule, her ‘waspishness,’ her rigid morality. I have attempted to capture Jane Austen in full.” (pp xvi)
The introduction is entitled Janeia, a term penned by Dr. Leihart to describe “the current obsession with everything Austen” by the media and her fervent fans. If you admit you are one of her disciples, then you are a Janeiac. One fellow reviewer described it as a disease. Leihart describes it as dementia while elaborating on Austen’s pop-culture phenomena and its inaccurate memory of depicting her life and characters. “Austen has become what she never was in life, what she would have been horrified to be: a literary celebrity.” With mild academic disdain we are taken on a brief tour through her rise in readership through the 19th to 21st centuries and her recent Hollywoodization through movies, books and spinoff’s. In my view, this was not the best way to begin a biography for readers who may not have read about Austen’s life before. That, and I am feigning my own “Austen fandom ridicule fatigue” from being poked at by zombie fans, the media and Austen nay-sayers for the past few years. I am an Austen fan and I do embrace a sense of the ridiculous, but enough already. Go pick on Bronte fans for a while, please.
Besides this eyebrow raising beginning, this is really an excellent compact biography on an important literary figure and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Leithart includes all the important moments of Austen’s life and also gives us great background on her family and others in her circle who influenced her education, her social and religious views and her writing. In seven succinct chapters we learn of Austen’s wholly English world, her gentry-class family background as a minister’s daughter, home-school education, early manuscripts, disruptions in her writing, final publication, death, and later widespread growth in popularity. There is also a helpful appendix of family, friends, and neighbors and a second appendix of characters in her novels that are mentioned in this biography.
Even though Jane Austen: Christian Encounters has its charms, I must point out a few foibles. Technically it is lacking in an index which I find imperative in biographies no matter how brief or long. Leithart draws from many reputable scholarly sources such as Claire Tomalin, David Cecil, Claudia Johnson, Deirdre Le Faye, Claire Harman and many family letters and recollections citing them in the notes in the back of the book by chapter. I prefer footnotes so you do not have to flip back and forth. Small quibble I know, but it adds to quicker reference and less disruptive reading. Repeatedly he refers to Jane Austen as “Jenny” but failed to cite the one reference that we know of where she is called this nick name by her father Rev. George Austen when he wrote to his sister on the event of her birth. His reasoning for the repeated use of “Jenny” was to emphasize the young child-like qualities she retained throughout her life. “Childlikeness might not strike us an apt description of a “serious” novelist like Austen, but this only highlights how pretentious we are about art and artists. Anyone who spends her life making up stories has got to have more than her fair share of whimsy, and nearly all Austen’s virtues, personal and artistic, as well as nearly all of her vices, are those of a woman who, at the center of her soul, remained “Jenny Austen” all her life.” This is debatable, but an interesting opinion.
Pastor, professor and Austen scholar Dr. Peter Leihart has a passion for Austen and her works that permeates throughout this biography. Readers could equate him to a modern-day C.S. Lewis or more accurately the 21st-century version of George Saintsbury who coined the term Janeite in 1894. Even though I had my concerns about how Leithart would present Christianity in Jane Austen’s life and novels, in the long-run it all fit together quite seamlessly. This was not Mr. Collins sermonizing or Edmund Bertram being priggish, but a natural extension of what formed Jane Austen’s character and fueled her brilliant imagination for the enjoyment of millions of readers. Kudos to publisher Thomas Nelson for resurrecting this biography after its first publisher Cumberland House Press folded in 2009 and sold its catalogue to Sourcebooks who then passed on publishing it. This was a considerable surprise given that Sourcebooks is the largest publisher of Jane Austen sequels in the world. Like oil and water, do Austen biographies and sequels not mix? I know it is business, but this is the oddest publishing putdown I have heard of in some time and all the more reason to obtain this lovely slim volume for your own edification and enjoyment. Oh, and Dr, Leihart thinks “Real men read Austen.”