Sandra's Reviews > Jane Austen: A Life

Jane Austen by Carol Shields
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's review
Jul 26, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: auto-or-biographies, in-english, non-fiction, jane-austen-and-related, e-books, read-in-2012
Recommended to Sandra by: Katri
Read from August 05 to 06, 2012

Relatively short and therefore concise biography on Jane Austen. I'm a bit of an Austenite, but I had never actually read a biography on her before. My mom's more of an Austenite than I am, so I had seen many, many documentaries while growing up: I never really had a choice in the matter, though I didn't mind. I therefore never really felt the need to pick up a book on her life. I was already so familiar with it. My mom thought differently. She really wanted to try a Jane Austen biography, so I bought her the Dutch translation of the Claire Tomalin biography. She admitted that it was very in-depth and seemed to cover a lot of ground, but she just wasn't very interested in it. She found it too factual. She's been trying to read it for 2 years now.

At some point, you start feeling discouraged by a book you can't get into. I hate this feeling, and I wish it hadn't happened to my mom. She wanted to read this book so badly. Also I bought her the biography as a gift, so I felt kind of responsible.

I heard about this book a few days ago, when my Goodreads friend Katri read and recommended it. I figured I'd give the book a try. I must say this is the most readable biography I have ever read. It does use facts, quotes, etc., but there's feeling in it, you don't just read fact upon fact. Carol Shields paints the society Jane lived in, she paints her life, and she discusses these things on the basis of Jane's novels. Though her insights aren't always groundbreaking, they can be enlightening and definitely make you want to pick up Jane's novels again - as a good biography should, I do think.

The only bad thing about this novel is that it apparently hasn't been translated into Dutch, and now I'm not sure if I can buy it for my mom after all, as she rarely reads in English. Bit of a shame. But the book was a good read, so thanks again to Katri for making me aware of this book's existence!

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Reading Progress

14.0% "Proofreading to see if my mom might like this.~"
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