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England's Jane: The Story of Jane Austen (World Writers) Library Binding – February 28, 2006
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From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Drawing on letters, biographical works, archival pictures, and Austens novels, Locke offers a readable biography for students who cant manage a larger work. The language is uncomplicated and the topics are aimed at helping readers better understand Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Austens other writings. Some of the topics discussed include childhood, family, village and social life, manners, customs, entertainment, historical background, career, and writing style. The numerous illustrations, many in color, include reproductions, drawings, portraits, maps, sketches, engravings, silhouettes, and facsimiles of Austens letters and writings. Students will be able to learn from both the pictures and the text what Austen and her characters looked like, how they lived, what they wore, what the English countryside and houses looked like, and what they did with their time. A useful, attractive book.–Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA
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Gr. 8-11. In an impressive first effort for YAs, Locke offers a biography of a charismatic figure whose life, gratifyingly enough, offers many of the same elements as her beloved novels. Locke begins by suggesting ways Austen's bookish family environment may have kindled her genius, swiftly moving on to later details that will resonate most with teens: She loved parties; she plunged into prickly funks during which she "could not anyhow continue to find people agreeable"; and she suffered several courtship humiliations and catastrophes. An unconventional happily-ever-after arrived in spinsterhood, however, through novels that challenged assumptions about gender (one skeptic memorably deemed Pride and Prejudice "much too clever to have been written by a woman"). The narrative can be uneven in its level of sophistication, and while quotations are sourced, certain subjective assertions are not. But there is enough momentum in this lively presentation, amplified by well-chosen quotes and full-color images, to warrant a hearty recommendation to Austenites and dutiful researchers alike. Jennifer Mattson
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