Byrne, Paula The Real Jane Austen

ISBN 13: 9780007479764

The Real Jane Austen

 
9780007479764: The Real Jane Austen

Who was the real Jane Austen? Overturning the traditional portrait of the author as conventional and genteel, bestseller Paula Byrne’s landmark biography reveals the real woman behind the books.

Claire Tomalin’s biography of Jane Austen was published in 1997 and, although it contained little new research, sold xxxxxxx.

Paula Byrne – an internationally renowned Jane Austen scholar and a best-selling biographer – has uncovered a very different Jane Austen to the Jane of popular imagination.

This Jane, revealed in the first biography written for a general readership but based on the most up-to-date scholarship – is a woman deeply immersed in the culture around her, but also far ahead of her time in her independence and tough-mindedness.. Throughout, this book gives the sense of Austen as an astute commentator on human nature in general and her own age in particular, and above all as a writer of independence and ambition.

Each chapter is focussed on a key moment in Austen’s life: eg. when her handicapped brother is removed from the family, when her exotic cousin Eliza arrives in the family circle, when her aunt was arrested for shoplifting, her time alone in London. The book also gives detailed attention to the novels themselves.

After this book, no longer can Austen be viewed as someone who did not engage with the great political events of her time. How many lovers of her work are aware that the Prince Regent kept a debauched household down the road from her village, that she was related by marriage to other major literary figures of the time such as the libertine Gothic novelist William Beckford and her favourite poet George Crabbe. The book will also identify her long lost seaside love as well as argue that her assumed ‘genteel’ sense of humour could also be savage, highly subversive irony.

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Review:

‘The perfect companion to the novels … Tremendous’ Joanna Trollope, Sunday Telegraph

‘A neat approach to biography, allowing Byrne to burrow deep beneath the surface of Austen’s existence. The result is a delightful and engrossing portrait’ Sunday Times

‘Byrne's essays add up to a fine appraisal of the novelist's environment, truly Austenish in the way they burrow into a sequestered and often secretive private world’ Observer

‘A perceptive and energetic guide to Austen and her surroundings … Byrne’s critical study consists of a series of beautifully written, interrelated essays … [her] style gives fresh charms to her subject matter. ‘The Real Jane Austen’ is bold, fast-moving and accessible’ Daily Telegraph

‘Engaging, compelling, a delightful and engrossing book. Of course we all know that the "real" Jane Austen will forever be a mystery, but most 21st century Janeites will adore this one. Byrne's passion is nothing if not persuasive’ Sunday Times

‘What is fresh in Byrne's biographical approach is her use of a succession of contemporary objects that Austen owned, or that might be seen in intimate connection with her interests … this adds an attractive immediacy to a well-known story … Byrne's affectionate study paints a pleasingly lively picture of Austen's life’ Independent

‘Brilliantly illuminating … riveting. By focusing, chapter by chapter, on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allows us to grasp the richness of her inner life’ Simon Callow, Guardian

‘The portrait of Austen that emerges is sparklingly multi-faceted, catching the light in intriguing ways … her Jane is far less likely to go for a quiet walk in the garden than she is to be whisked into town in search of a velvet cushion, a necklace or a smart new dress’ Irish Mail on Sunday

About the Author:

Paula Byrne was born in Birkenhead. Her first book, Jane Austen and the Theatre, was shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize. Her second book, Perdita, was a Richard and Judy book-club pick and a best-seller. Her third, Mad World:Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead is ‘the fascinating story of a great house and a great family.’ It was published to rave reviews in 2009 and was another best-seller. She is married to Jonathan Bate and lives in Oxford.

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