The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things
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.
In this paperback of the landmark biography, bestselling biographer Paula Byrne uses objects that conjure up a key moment in Austen’s life and work – a silhouette, a vellum notebook, a topaz cross, a writing box, a royalty cheque, a bathing machine, and many more – to unlock the biography of this most beloved author. The woman who emerges is far tougher, more socially and politically aware, and altogether more modern than the conventional picture of ‘dear aunt Jane’ allows. Byrne’s lively book explores the many forces that shaped Austen’s life, her long struggle to become a published author, and brings Miss Austen dazzlingly into the twenty-first century.
”'The perfect companion to the novels … Tremendous” - Joanna Trollope, Sunday Telegraph
”'Brilliantly illuminating … Its great merit is [that] by focusing on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allow us to grasp the richness of Austen's inner life” - Guardian
”'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