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Jane Austen: A Life Revealed

3.45  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  144 reviews
Jane Austen’s popularity never seems to fade. She has hordes of devoted fans, and there have been numerous adaptations of her life and work. But who was Jane Austen? The writer herself has long remained a mystery. And despite the resonance her work continues to have for teens, there has never been a young adult trade biography on Austen. 

Catherine Reef changes that with th
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published June 6th 2011 by Clarion Books (first published April 1st 2010)
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3.45  · 
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 ·  435 ratings  ·  144 reviews

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Mar 14, 2011 rated it liked it
Austen from the Inside

Like many people I’m an Austen fan and Reef gives lots of facts about Austen’s life in particular and the general life of her contemporaries though if you’re someone who’s read lots of 19th century British literature there won’t be anything extremely eye opening here. The book is being marketed toward young adults however, who naturally won’t have that information at hand. The problem is that this half of the book is fairly dry and not likely to keep a young audience engage
Wendy Darling
Some readers take on Jane Austen out of necessity for school. Others linger over her words for pleasure.

This short biography, meant for young adults, is a well-researched history lesson full of anecdotes on the various life events that shaped Jane's novels. It's also peppered with interesting facts, photographs, and historical information, including the story of how Jane initially had to self-publish her books since no one would take a chance on her, and my personal favorite, a little tidbit on
Kenadi P
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
Jane Austen. A young women with a passion that continues to interest everyone. Jane Austen was a women with an amazing talent of writing! She had so much truth and soul in the books she wrote. Many readers "couldn't wait to flip the page!" This women never married which is unusual for a lady of her time. Jane Austen lived an interesting life full of secrets and passion.

When Ms. Austen never wed her bank account was as dry as the desert! But isn't being poor better than marrying a man you don't
Nov 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-school
Very little is known about Jane Austen’s life. She left behind no diaries, and after her death Jane’s family destroyed almost all of the 3,000 letters she had written. Photography didn’t exist in her lifetime, and the one painting of her was said to be a poor likeness. From these challenges, author Catherine Reef scoured the facts available about Jane, her family, and the goings-on in history and society at that time to give middle school readers a glimpse of who Jane Austen really was and why s ...more
Rebecca Norris
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a good overview of Jane Austen's life. It shares the novels she wrote and her family situations in an easy and engaging way.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
A nice, concise juvenile biography of Jane Austen. Includes black and white drawings, photography, scanned letters etc. throughout the book. It will give you a good overview of Jane's life without too much to bog you down.
Genevieve Gara

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed is a biography by Catherine Reef. It is aimed at Teens, but going in knowing nothing of Austen's personal life, I found it to be worth reading as an Adult. It is easy to read and shortish. For Teens, it would be a good book report option, or really for any school project; quotes from personal letters and portraits provide good primary sources and the content itself is a great secondary source. For an Adult, it is a good starting point, you'll want to find a more in d
Julia Da Mata
This is quite short for a biography, however it's a very simple and easy read that introduces the author and facts about the time that you may not know.
Jan 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
Reef began the book with the notion that Jane Austen was a mystery. She was described in conflicting terms by family members and friends. Her own words had been lost through destruction from these same family members and friends as if Austen had asked for her correspondences to be destroyed after her death (as implied by Reef). Reef even said Austen was described by family in a way that would be favorable-- like how you would describe someone in your family to outsiders.

In other words, we can't
Little is known of the life Jane Austen (1775-1817), but amazingly there are some hefty, scholarly biographies in print. Two of my favorites were both published in 1997 and confusingly share the same title. Jane Austen: A Life, by Claire Tomalin and David Nokes are both detailed and far-reaching in scope, elaborating on Austen’s life, her family and historical context. That is great for the ardent enthusiasts or budding scholars but might scare the heck out of a young reader or someone who is ju ...more
Apr 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a wonderful little peek into the life of Jane Austen. It is unfortunate that the majority of her letters have been destroyed, but the hundred or so that have been left behind offered an idea of her as a person. I enjoyed reading about the history of the time period, as well. I also liked the original reviews, as well as, the summaries of her books. A fun, light, read.
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: high school students

A short biography that is a little heavy on plot summaries, but Reef admits we know precious little about the author herself.
Colline Vinay Kook-Chun
The pages within the book were disappointing though. A few tidbits of Austen's life were given, but these were very brief. The description written of her life was dry and factual (and not at all fun to read). Many of the pages described the story lines of the books she had written - books that I  had already read and knew. I would have preferred a description of a day in her life, as well as a more detailed discussion of the troubles she would have had publishing in that era as a woman. Even tho ...more
Cristi McGill
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I wondered when I chose this book how much of a biography the author could write about Austen's short life. I was right to wonder: Easily half the book are synopses of Austen's famous novels: Sense & Sensibility, Pride & Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Persuasion. 35 of the 192 pages are source notes and the index.

Having said all that, what was there was very interesting. It's a quick read stuffed with period details and I enjoyed the illustrations. I'm not sure I would
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have read several Austen biographies and this one did not add too much to the general knowledge pool, though it was well-written and organized.
I checked it out from my library's regular biography section, but I think it is more of a juvenile or student book. The author took time to explain basic differences between life in Austen's day and today, and the approach made it seem that it was written for a younger audience.
All in all, an easy read, lots of letter excerpts, some interpretive content
Rae Shue
Nov 07, 2018 rated it liked it
It was a quick and easy read on the life of Jane Austen. Janeites will reasonably enjoy this book, but the author assumes that the persons reading this book have no clue what Jane's books are about and describes them as though there is no understanding. It is either because she doesn't know her audience or needed extra pages to fill. It was enjoyable, but how much more so without the plots of Jane's books...
Victoria Simpson
Oct 25, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a good, easily understood biography of Jane Austen and her family. Some parts are a bit disjointed and the author adds in unnecessary details, such as a description of Austen's father being very attractive and going into detail about his hair. Most if her information is backed up with resources, but some of it seems speculative. However, overall this book is a good beginning biography of Jane Austen which includes small synopses of her novels.
Jul 08, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
A very readable YA biography. Thoroughly researched, with pictures, index, and references. Somewhat watered down, but important events in the author Jane Austen's life are covered. I recommend this as an introduction to the life of the author, but if you want more details, follow up with another Austen biography.
Mar 06, 2019 rated it liked it
This is definitely a book for teens, which I hadn't noticed when I checked this out from the library. It is interesting, but rather on-the-surface of everything. And it is a small book, with lots of space given to complete plot summaries for each of Austen's books, so less of a biography than you might think at first.
Jan 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This book did give a lot of information about Jane Austen, her family, and her novels, but some parts I thought we unnecessary. I don’t think Reed needed to include long summaries of all of Austen’s books. Also, I got confused with all of Jane’s siblings quite often.
Nov 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I'm crying bc I just love Jane so much that it hurts
Jan 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one seems to be one of the best out of what I've read this go-round as far as a time-line and a set-up for a day in the life of Jane Austen.
Feb 16, 2018 rated it liked it
I wouldn't recommend this book to readers who want to read Jane Austen. All her books are basically spoiled for those who haven't read some/all of them.
Tonya Shaw
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Straightforward biography of Austen that gives the reader a good background of the author.
Nov 24, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Well written though a bit dry and long to come to the point "historians don't know much". I did find the illustrations interesting and the historical context interesting.
Nov 22, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
This is a young adult biography (though it did feel elementary). It skimmed over facts quickly and included a whole bunch of background information (mostly short history lessons where the author felt it was necessary). The author clearly admires Austen and, by default, the reader can't help but feel a little rush of excitement for Austen's work as well. So! I think this is a great introductory to Austen's life.

BUT. I do have some bones.

First, I felt like everything written in this book could hav
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
The Short and Sweet of It
Jane Austen is a biography written for younger readers, and while it works for its intended audience, it may come across as superficial and disjointed to older readers.

A Bit of a Ramble
Reef covers Jane's life quickly and efficiently in this work, focusing primarily on her interpersonal relationships with family and friends. The problem is that Jane had a large family and a lot of friends - or rather, acquaintances - so things feel a bit rushed in this biography. In just
Kelly A.
Jan 04, 2011 rated it really liked it
Jane Austen may be the author of easily one of the most popular novels of all time, but how much to her readers actually know about her? In my case, not much. Sure, I knew a few things about her, such as that fact that she never married, and....well, that's it.

After finishing 'Jane Austen,' this is in no way true anymore. Catherine Reef's book, while favoring a younger audience, is extremely well written, interesting, and very informative. The book covers Jane's entire life and almost every aspe
Apr 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
This book caught my eye for its clean, well styled cover and hooked me with its promise of a simple and concise biography of Jane Austen written for young adults. I love Jane Austen and am a huge fan of her novels, their movies, and their many spin offs. But, aside from what I knew from watching Becoming Jane, I didn’t know too much about the author herself. This book was the perfect toe in the pool and revealed Jane Austen in a way that was engaging and interesting and left me eager to re-read ...more
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Catherine Reef is the author of more than 35 nonfiction books for young people. Her books for Clarion include the highly acclaimed JOHN STEINBECK and SIGMUND FREUD, which was the recipient of the 2002 Sydney Taylor Award, presented by the Association of Jewish Libraries. She lives in College Park, Maryland.
“Pride and Prejudice opens with one of the most famous sentences ever written: "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." With these words, Jane Austen announced to her readers that they were about to meet such a man and the people eager to marry him off. What was more, they were going to have fun. The dark cynicism of Sense and Sensibility was largely gone, blown away by a clean, fresh wind.” 3 likes
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