Book Review: Becoming Jane Austen

Jon Spence
Continuum, 2007
312 pages
trade paperback


This is the book the film Becoming Jane was based on. Now to be fair, my husband and I had tried to watch Becoming Jane a couple years back and couldn't get into it, so we turned it off after 15 minutes. Maybe we were just in the wrong frame of mind, or maybe this is the kind of story that doesn't translate so smoothly. Dunno.

I picked up the book because at some point it occurred to me that although I like Austen's writing (and yet I haven't read all of her work, though I probably should), I knew very little about her as a person. So I got curious. And then I went to the library, and this was one of the most recent books they had on the biography shelf. I figured recent information was probably better than, say, books from the 60s and 70s, so . . .

Becoming Jane Austen is good. It's well written, thorough, but not dry. Very accessible. It's almost a shame there's not more concrete information about Austen's life, but Spence does very well with what's available.

And I have to say I find it a fun fact that Jane and I were born almost exactly 200 years apart, plus one day . . . I guess I'd better hope I don't die at age 41, though.

Bottom line is I now know more about Jane Austen than I did, which was the goal. And had a nice time learning, thanks to this book.

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