Skip to main content

Jane Austen: A Biography by Brian Wilks: A Book Review

Jane Austen: A Biography
Author: Brian Wilks
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Biography
Publisher: Endeavour Press
Release Date: 2015
Pages: 144
Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review
Synopsis: Jane Austen, one of the best-loved novelists of the English language, is unique in that her approach to art is without complication. 

     She never attempted to exceed the limitations of her capabilities or of that with which she was familiar, but wrote of ordinary people engaged in familiar pursuits and doing ordinary things. 

     Born the daughter of a country parson, Jane lived what many consider to have been a quiet and uneventful life. Yet in this book, Brian Wilks shows how rewarding a study of this deceptively quiet life can be. 

     Jane was a member of a remarkable family, and her story is one of her close involvement with its members. Personal relationships and their portrayal are the keynote of her art and they are also the key to understanding her life. 

     The successful novelist who, while being asked to dedicate a novel to the Prince Regent wrote to advise her ten year old niece on good “Auntship”, would have preferred to be remembered as an aunt rather than as a famous writer, and the glimpses of her life and family we have in her letters abound with the same wit, liveliness and shrewd observation that are found in her novels. 

     Yet there is also a wider dimension to her life. She lived at one of the most formative periods of English and European history, the time of the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars abroad, and of social unrest and upheaval at home. 

     If these events find but a dim echo in Jane’s novels, it is not because she was unaware of them. Through her wide family circle she had first-hand contact with many of the social and political currents of her day: she had two brothers who became admirals and who fought in the Napoleonic Wars, an aunt who narrowly escaped hanging for an offence she did not commit, and a cousin whose husband met his death at the guillotine. 

     These incidents are as much a part of her life as the drawing-room at Chawton where she wrote most of her novels. 

     My Review: Jane Austen is one of my favorite authors of all time. Yet, no matter how many times I have read her books and watched movies and tv adaptations of her novels, I did not know much about her. The only time I have come close to knowing about Jane Austen is Becoming Jane starring Anne hathaway. When I chanced upon Brian Wilks’s biography of Jane Austen, I decided that it was time to learn some facts about my favorite author. This biography highlights her writing career along with her personal life.

     One of the most surprising things that I learned in this novel was that Jane Austen had a dramatic life. I assumed because she lived in the country and was a spinster that her life was probably very uneventful. However, I was very wrong. Jane Austen suffered many tragedies, tribulations, and successes. Jane Austen was also a gossip, which was evidenced in many of her writings. There were other interesting facts about Jane Austen. She had a handicapped brother, and that she was writing when she was only twelve years old.

     Overall, this was a good introduction to Jane Austen for those who do not know much about her personal life. I thought that the author gave quick summaries of Jane Austen’s personal life that I wanted him to discuss in more detail. I also thought that the writing was very dry. Yet, I did find this biography to be heavily researched because he included a lot of primary sources. While I believe that this is a good biography, I do not think it will satisfy the likes of die-hard Jane Austen’s fans who know everything about her life. However, for those like me, who only know a few generalities of her life, and can only infer insight through her writings, I think you will find this biography to be enlightening. 

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars 



Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post by Allison Pataki: A Book Review

The Magnificent Lives of Marjorie Post Author: Allison Pataki Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Ballantine Release Date: February 15, 2022 Pages: 381 Source: Netgalley/Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: Mrs. Post, the President and First Lady are here to see you. . . . So begins another average evening for Marjorie Merriweather Post. Presidents have come and gone, but she has hosted them all. Growing up in the modest farmlands of Battle Creek, Michigan, Marjorie was inspired by a few simple rules: always think for yourself, never take success for granted, and work hard—even when deemed American royalty, even while covered in imperial diamonds. Marjorie had an insatiable drive to live and love and to give more than she got. From crawling through Moscow warehouses to rescue the Tsar’s treasures to outrunning the Nazis in London, from serving the homeless of the Great Depression to entertaining Roosevelts, Kennedys, and Hollywood’s biggest stars, Marjorie Merriweath

Tituba: The Intentional Witch of Salem by Dave Tamanini: A Book Review

Tituba: The Intentional Witch of Salem Author: Dave Tamanini Genre: Historical Fiction, Fantasy Publisher: David F Tamanini Release Date: 2020 Pages: 317 Source: Publisher/Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Synopsis: If you love historical fiction... come revisit Salem's terror in this provocative new telling of enslaved Tituba, no longer a caricature, but a fully human woman with magical powers.      Come! Let Tituba cast its spell with a unique and tantalizing tale that explores the wild emotions driving accusations of witchcraft in 1692.      A Promise and a Hope      Enslaved Tituba has been faithful to a promise to her dying mama in Africa. She has appeased the masters from Barbados to Boston to Salem and waited for her magic.      A Mother’s Agony      When Tituba’s only son dies trying to escape slavery, her life changes forever. After enduring the crush only a mother can feel, she rages and turns to vengeance.      Witches Tear into Salem      The villagers see wi

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) by Lucinda Riley: A Book Review

The Seven Sisters (The Seven Sisters #1) Author: Lucinda Riley Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance Publisher: Atria Release Date: 2015 Pages: 463 Source: My State Public Library Synopsis: Maia D’Apliese and her five sisters gather together at their childhood home, “Atlantis”—a fabulous, secluded castle situated on the shores of Lake Geneva—having been told that their beloved father, who adopted them all as babies, has died. Each of them is handed a tantalizing clue to her true heritage—a clue which takes Maia across the world to a crumbling mansion in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Once there, she begins to put together the pieces of her story and its beginnings. Eighty years earlier in Rio’s Belle Epoque of the 1920s, Izabela Bonifacio’s father has aspirations for his daughter to marry into the aristocracy. Meanwhile, architect Heitor da Silva Costa is devising plans for an enormous statue, to be called Christ the Redeemer, and will soon travel to Paris to find the right sculptor to