Jules's Reviews > Becoming Jane Austen

Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence
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's review
Jun 29, 10

bookshelves: austen, biography-memoir-letters, 2010
Read in June, 2010

I'll have to preface this "review" (I don't think my bookly blurbs actually deserve that title, but whatever) by saying that reading this biography was interesting for me. It's highly readable and takes into account a lot of facts, it seems.

I can't help it, though, that overall Jon Spence's biography feels more mainstream than something that could be academically usable. He presents his own speculation and interpretation about Jane Austen's life as if it were the truth, going so far as to talk about Jane Austen's feelings at a certain moment in time in indicative rather than conjunctive, assuming an authority over her life which he cannot have. The links he establishes between Austen's writing and Tom Lefroy's influence seem, at times, willful and far-fetched, something he'd like there to have been instead of something that might actually have been. Plus his way of reading Austen's writing as entirely autobiographically inspired bothers me, especially after he quotes someone who says her inspiration does not come from her surroundings, at least not to the degree that Spence seems to find.

Okay, I'm sorry, I'm starting to write myself into indignation. To end this: I can understand how this is the basis for the 2007 feature film Becoming Jane. Becoming Jane Austen is more fanon than canon.
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