Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Review: Jane Austen's Country Life by Deirdre Le Faye

Title: Jane Austen's Country Life
Author: Deirdre Le Faye
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Frances Lincoln
Publish Date: June 1, 2014
Source: I received a copy from the publisher; however, this did not affect my job.

What's the Story?:

From "Jane Austen lived for nearly all her life in two Hampshire villages: for 25 years in her birthplace of Steventon, and then for the last 8 years of her life in Chawton, during which she wrote and published her great novels. While there are plenty of books describing her periods of urban life in Bath, Southampton and London, and the summer holidays in Lyme Regis and other West Country seaside resorts, no book has given consideration to the rural background of her life. Her father was not only the rector of Steventon but a farmer there as well, managing a property of some 200 acres. Her brother Edward, in addition, was a large landowner, holding the three estates of Godmersham in Kent, Steventon and Chawton in Hampshire. Agriculture, in all its aspects, was even more important to Jane than clerical life or the naval careers of her younger brothers. This book fills a gap in the Austen family background, discussing the state of agriculture in general in the south of England during the wartime, conditions which lasted for most of Jane Austen's life, and considering in particular the villages and their inhabitants, the weather conditions, field crops, farm and domestic animals, and the Austens' household economy and rural way of life. Apart from these obvious sources, there are other Austen family manuscripts, as yet unpublished, which provide particular and unique information. "

My Two Cents:

Before reading "Jane Austen's Country Life," I didn't realize that Jane Austen had really not traveled anywhere outside of a couple places in the English countryside. I guess I had a picture of Austen being much more traveled being such a famous writer. Writers always have to travel, right? However, in looking at Jane Austen's books, the English countryside definitely factors heavily into the settings. In this book, Le Faye draws parallels between Austen's real life and the lives that she wrote about in her books.

This book would be a really good pick for anyone who is interested in where famous authors like Austen get their ideas from. Austen was considered a great writer in her day and really did quite well for being a woman in a time that was not always so friendly for women. She definitely has staying power as Austen's books are still beloved today.Le Faye does a really good job of explaining where Austen may have been inspired by her surroundings. She draws on letters and other correspondence to show where Austen's mind was in her writing love. 

The book is also filled with gorgeous illustrations that show what life would have been like during Austen's life. I really liked that these were included because it allowed me to more clearly see what Austen saw. The illustrations also make this a very pretty book that would be great for someone who really loves Jane Austen! Overall, this is a good book to both look at and read!

1 comment:

  1. I love to physically travel, but I also do a lot of traveling through the written word. Nice review.


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