The Real Jane Austen
A Life in Small Things
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In The Real Jane Austen, acclaimed literary biographer Paula Byrne provides the most intimate and revealing portrait yet of a beloved but complex novelist.
Just as letters and tokens in Jane Austen’s novels often signal key turning points in the narrative, Byrne explores the small things – a scrap of paper, a gold chain, an ivory miniature – that held significance in Austen’s personal and creative life.
Byrne transports us to different worlds, from the East Indies to revolutionary Paris, and to different events, from a high society scandal to a case of petty shoplifting. In this ground-breaking biography, Austen is set on a wider stage than ever before, revealing a well-traveled and politically aware writer – important aspects of her artistic development that have long been overlooked.
The Real Jane Austen is a fresh, compelling, and surprising biography of the author of some of our most enduring classic books – from Pride and Prejudice to Sense and Sensibility, Emma to Persuasion – and a vivid evocation of the world that shaped her.
Paula Byrne brings Jane Austen lovingly to life
A riveting read: you can read it straight through or dip into it for interesting insights into Jane Austen's life and those of family and friends within her sphere. Paula Byrne provides an engaging and new approach to the biography of this beloved author. Recent biographies recount Austen's influence on her writing by a hither-to uncelebrated love interest of Tom Lefroy, but Byrne puts matters in perspective, noting the real affection Jane Austen shares with her sister Cassandra, and how that relationship, as well as Austen's own sense of self, guide her. While examining the interest of several young men in Austen, Byrne reveals her to be the author of her destiny. A balanced and delicious account of a woman whose life and work inspire us still.