Nicole (Reading Books With Coffee)'s Reviews > Becoming Jane Austen

Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence
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's review
Sep 12, 2011

did not like it
bookshelves: history, memoir-biography, 2011, non-fiction
Read from September 12 to 25, 2011

We started off with a detailed family history, and it was really hard to keep track of everyone because the same few names appeared rather frequently.

As much as I love Jane Austen, I couldn't get into the book. While Jane's family had a big influence on her writing, I felt like they were more prominent than Jane herself. The book itself was really dry, and I had a lot of trouble getting through it. Sadly, I don't remember much of anything from the book, mostly because I couldn't bring myself to care.

There was a lot more speculation than I thought. We don't know a lot about Jane Austen, so I'm okay with some speculation. The problem is that he presents it as facts, and tells us how Jane felt, when can we know what she was feeling? And the cover was misleading- on the front cover, it says (and I quote), "the true love story that inspired the classic novels." The back cover mentions that Tom Lefroy, a young lawyer that Jane met, "affected her life and caught her imagination." It's misleading in the fact that he's only mentioned a few times. And the whole "we don't really know for sure, but her sister Cassandra would have known" thing...well, why bother making it seem like her meeting Tom Lefroy is a big deal, when it really wasn't?

I might be somewhat accepting of the fact that Tom Lefroy may have inspired Pride and Prejudice, but I just couldn't believe that 20 years later, she was still pining for him and that meeting him had an influence on both Persuasion and Emma. For all the influence he supposedly had on her life, it would have been nice to learn more about him and what happened to him.

Another thing that I didn't like was the ending. For a book that started back in the 1600's, it would have been nice to see what happened with her posthumously published novels. The book literally ends with Jane's death, and a few more pages about how her death impacted her family.

I have to give a 1 out of 5. I couldn't like it, and while I'm curious about Jane Austen and her life, this book did nothing to satisfy that curiosity.

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Reading Progress

09/23/2011 page 141

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