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Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810932857
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810932852
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,915,894 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Jane Austen's novels were published, some readers dismissed them as "too natural to be interesting." Yet their very true-to-lifeness helped earn Austen (1775-1817) her place in the literary canon. Nearly 200 years later, many praise what Austen scholar (and obvious fan) Le Faye calls her ability to create the "sensation that we are visiting genuine places and joining in the lives of genuine people." Le Faye (Jane Austen: A Family Record) argues that modern readers need a thorough explanation of Austen's milieu-Georgian and Regency Britain-in order to fully understand and enjoy her fiction. She provides just that by weaving together carefully researched biographical information, meticulously detailed descriptions of everything from social hierarchy to cosmetics and sanitation, as well as summaries of and contemporary reactions to Austen's novels. Color illustrations and maps provide further illumination, particularly the portraits suggesting what beloved characters such as Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet might have looked like. Although the volume comprises distinct sections of biography, history and criticism, the three are intermingled throughout. This generally succeeds at making the book more engaging, but sometimes Le Faye fails to clarify whether she's discussing Austen's siblings, Englishmen of no relation or fictional characters, which may frustrate readers who aren't that familiar with Austen's work. Despite this, and the fact that some points are almost painfully obvious-of course contraception and refrigeration have improved since 1817-this book is a worthy addition to the Austen fan's library. 100 illustrations, 80 in full color.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Kate Jayne on February 2, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am a Jane Austen fan, to say the least. I have read all her works and enjoyed them. The only thing that annoyed me was the fact that I knew little about culture and life in her day. When I saw this book I was very excited. It gives a brief history of England (during the time of Jane Austen's life), a biography of Ms. Austen, explination of the culture, and detailed explinations of each book. This book is packed with pictures and maps that are also very helpful and give each of Jane Austen's stories a "face." If you are a Austen fan, you need to read this book!
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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful By Dee on February 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Being a bit of a Jane Austen magpie and already owning other books by Le Faye, I looked forward to gaining more background to the time period with this book. While there was much of interest, I'd have to say that overall I wouldn't recommend it. There were some inaccuracies in the plot summaries (minor, but there all the same), but the biggest problem for readers who may be new to Jane Austen was the lack of delineation between the real people (family members, friends) mentioned and characters from the books. I could see this becoming fairly confusing for someone who hasn't already read other biographical material. Still, it's a decent read and the information presented may stimulate a person's interest enough to want to find out more.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Such a nice book! This is a cozy volume, filled with background information on Jane's life, her novels, and the Regency era. Excellent pictures, interesting and well-written text. A perfect book to peruse while you drink a cup of tea on a winter's night. Would make a great gift for any Jane Austen lover.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book disappointing and would not likely have purchased it if I could have looked through it in advance. The information isn't detailed enough (or footnoted) to be a useful reference work (I have better sources of all it's information), nor are there enough unique pictures/illustrations for it to hold my interest as a visual reference. I was hoping it would have more illustrations, particularly pictures of items mentioned in the novels that modern readers might not be familiar with - while there are a handful featured (a black and gold japanned table cabinet remarkably like the one described in Northanger Abbey, for example), I'd like to have seen more of this and less plot synopsis. It's intended not as an exhaustive history of course, but an overview. I would not normally buy a history book that doesn't have notes/sources, but as the author is a noted Austen scholar I trust its facts to be correct. The fun twist here is that Le Faye relates the history to Jane Austen specifically, either her books or self/family/friends.

All this being said, it's a handsome volume printed on high quality paper that would be a nice gift for a new Austen fan or someone who is not already quite familiar with late 17th-early 18th century England. Note the cover dust jacket on this (2002, Harry Abrams, NY) edition has the same illustration as an edition of the similarly titled Jane Austen's World by Maggie Lane (2005 Carleton Books) - so just make sure you have the right one before checkout! The Lane book, as well as Jane Austen's Town & Country Style by Susan Watkins are actually more along the lines of what I was looking for.
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By M. Hoyt on November 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A very beautifully produced book, full of period illustrations in color (except when the original wasn't) and free of the pop-psych nonsense that various other Jane Austen books have thrown at us. I especially appreciated that in the latter part of the book, which covers each novel in detail, the author has provided us with contemporary portraits of Georgian people that she thinks resemble the main characters in the books. The only one I disagree with is her selection for Mr. Darcy - not haughty enough. She even shows us what she thinks might be the portrait that Jane Austen's letters refer to as being the picture she saw at the Royal Academy that was clearly of Mrs.Bingley (nee Jane Bennet). I rather wish she'd provided us with several choices for each character, so we could choose which one we think is most like our favorite (or least favorite) character - but I expect the publisher would have shrieked at so many more color illustrations.
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