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The Real Jane Austen

A Life in Small Things

This book can be downloaded and read in iBooks on your Mac or iOS device.


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.

From Publishers Weekly

Feb 04, 2013 – Just in time for the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (first published in January 1813), comes Paula Byrne's vivacious new portrait of its author. The approach Byrne takes is refreshingly material-based and the book is experimental in structure; each chapter unfolds from the biographer's description of a small object associated with Austen's life (chapter titles include "The East Indian Shawl", "The Cocked Hat" "The Card of Lace", "The Crimson Velvet Cushions", and "The Topaz Crosses"). This technique serves two functions: firstly, it honors the precision for which Austen was famed by drawing attention to the material artifacts of her life; secondly, it challenges the " official' family biography of Jane Austen," which stresses the novelist's "enclosed, sequestered world", coloring Austen's life with the same "ivory miniature" quality she famously ascribed to her fiction. Byrne's Austen, as revealed through this archive of objects, emerges as a worldly woman, profoundly enmeshed in a wider world than she's often acknowledged to occupy. This is an Austen with a sense for the political as well as for the finer points of sensibility and one who will be unfamiliar (though never unrecognizable) to many readers.

Customer Reviews

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.

The Real Jane Austen
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  • $10.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Biographies & Memoirs
  • Published: Jan 29, 2013
  • Publisher: Harper
  • Seller: HarperCollins
  • Print Length: 400 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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