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Showing 1-10 of 11 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 32 reviews
on March 14, 2016
I feel that it is a book published for a specific market that looks for precise detail, text book style. It is a compendium of everything having to do with Jane Austen. Even if you are a fan of Jane Austen, this much detail is tiring.
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on April 21, 2010
I am giving this book five stars though I have not finished it. It is clearly an excellent book.

However, the Kindle edition has a terrible problem. It is entirely in italics.

I have not had this problem with any other book.

It is not ALWAYS entirely in italics. If I go to certain chapters and then come away from them, suddenly the book is NOT all in italics.

I think this is probably the result of faulty display coding of some kind.

In any case, I have not been able to control this phenomenon, so that the book is USUALLY all in italics. Imagine reading page after page, all in italics. It strains your eyes far more than, say, reading on a non-Kindle computer.

I have tried this, by the way, on Kindle for PC as well as on my Kindle 2 and the same phenomenon exists, so it clearly has nothing to do with my Kindle 2.

I am contacting Amazon customer service about this, but I think it's only fair to alert fellow readers to the problem.
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VINE VOICEon August 5, 2010
I was all ready to love this book, and there are parts that I did mark so as not to lose. The first is on pages 69-70, a comment exploring how Austen "gave away more about how women think and behave than any previous writer." In passing, there are also some good brief remarks (for example, that Benjamin Disraeli, who said that if he needed to read a good novel he would write one, had nonetheless read Pride and Prejudice 17 times). But on the whole the author seemed to go into the greatest detail on matters that to me seemed tangential and to skim the surface on things I wanted to hear more about. This may be due to Austen having both a popular and a literary following and the resulting difficulty of knowing how to satisfy both. I think the book leans toward the interests of the first. Harman tells us that the earliest biographical writings about Austen by her family members were largely embroidered and not that reliable--and then for some reason we get a multi-page guided tour of each point these tainted sources supply. On the other hand, there is only a one-sentence mention (on page 182) of the first time that Austen was viewed as having pioneered the great tradition of English novel writing (as F.R. Leavis assessed it). If you are interested in what this or that scholar or writer added to our understanding of her books, you're mostly out of luck. Tony Tanner, whose introduction to the old Penguin edition of Pride and Prejudice was so highly esteemed that it was reprinted in the back of the new edition even though a newly commissioned introduction by another writer appeared at the front, is mentioned only once in a list of Austen scholars who have had insightful things to say about Jane. Well, great, but just what were some of their insights? This probably sounds harsher than I mean it to. Harmon seems to be addressing an audience of mostly general readers and not going very fully into the contributions of a century or more of literary study.

One other example: Emma Thompson said in writing the screenplay to Sense and Sensibility that the sentences in the novel itself were sometimes hard to adapt to spoken screen dialogue so she resorted at times in her script to excerpts from some of Jane Austen's letters to make comparable points--that the letters employed an idiom more suited for the screen. There's no mention of that in the book. Harmon discusses the Ang Lee/Thompson movie in about a page--mostly to say that casting Hugh Grant was an attempt to cash in on the success of Four Weddings and an Funeral, and Harmon also mentions the publication of Jane Austen's correspondence in a longer section elsewhere. Of course you can't cover everything in a 200-page or so book, but getting those two topics together more deeply would have addressed a real need here--that at times the book is maybe a bit rushed and skimming the surface of things.
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on November 17, 2010
Read this book and passed it on to my Sister who also loves Jane Austen. It was a great book!
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Jane Austen is my favorite author, one I have admired ever since I first read Pride and Prejudice more than two decades ago (though my favorite of her novels is Sense and Sensibility). I have a tendency to reread her novels on a yearly basis, and I have also watched the numerous screen adaptations, primarily by BBC, the latest being "Emma". After watching Emma (2009), I craved for some new insights into the author's life and "Jane's Fame" fits the bill perfectly. It is a witty treatise on how the author achieved world renown, and of how that fame has endured all these years later.

The book challenges the traditional and widely accepted portrayal of JA as a refined and modest English gentlewoman who tried to be discreet in her writing endeavors, an image perpetuated by her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh in A Memoir of Jane Austen: And Other Family Recollections (Oxford World's Classics). Reality, according to author Claire Harman, was quite different. I found it interesting that reactions to Jane Austen's works veered from absolute adoration to disgust (Mark Twain could not abide her writing style, and Charlotte Bronte once made a scathing remark about the author's work). There are others who provide insightful observations, for example the observation that heroines in JA's novels reveal women's true characteristics, even if this is not always flattering (which I can't help but agree with!) In all, readers are afforded compelling insights into various opinions on JA and her work, almost 150 years of it. Harman writes in such an entertaining manner that "Jane's Fame" makes for a compelling reading experience, and I never found my interest waning. Other suggested reading:
Jane Austen: A Life
Jane Austen: Her Life: The Definitive Portrait of Jane Austen: Her Life, Her Art, Her Family, Her World
Jane Austen's World: The Life and Times of England's Most Popular Novelist
Jane Austen: The World of Her Novels

and, a BBC production:
Miss Austen Regrets: The Life and Loves of Jane Austen
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on April 2, 2011
An interesting read (or listen, actually... I borrowed the audio book from the library and liked it so much I bought the hardcover for all my budding writers to read.)

The later chapters of this book explain how Jane Austen's popularity progressed through the fashions of time. More importantly, using primary materials it revises the picture we have of both the young and mature Jane as someone who grew up in a community of family writers and who was very much interested in publication. Very engagingly written... a must for Austen fans and writers alike.
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on May 23, 2013
got for mom so have no idea if good or not..she was happy so i guess it is worth it
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on October 28, 2014
A good read. The first part of the book is devoted to factual information about the life and profession of Jane Austen. The author is very successful in pointing out that the existing factual information about Jane Austen is very thin. The author did a commendable job presenting this limited information in a readable form allowing the reader to form a “mind’s eye” picture of Jane Austen and her life, her work, and the times she lived. The second part of the book is devoted to modern information about Jane Austen. I feel Ms. Harman did a good job improving my understanding about Jane Austen, the author, and all that other stuff. My favorite take-away is “…you read them again and again. But after reading them fifteen times, you begin to want more. Anything that will evoke the work of Jane Austen becomes very appealing….” I think the bottom line [for me] is just read and enjoy Jane Austen’s books as they were written by Ms. Austen.
I read this book on a KINDLE Paperwhite.
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on April 11, 2012
I listened to the audio version of the book (borrowed from a local library) in my car during commutes and enjoyed it very much. I purchased the hardbound version as a gift for another Austin fan I know.
This review is based on my listening to the CDs and presumes that it is more or less the same as the hardbound version that I purchased.
The book covers two areas of "Austinia" -- the first is an intellectual biography of Jane Austin herself, locating her writing endeavors within a family where many members wrote stories and poems for each other. While uniquely gifted, Jane Austin was not unique in writing for others from a rather young age. The second aspect is a history of how her writings were published and received. Most attention is given to her work in England, but there is information about how her work came to the States and how it found its way to other parts of the world.
The author takes note of earlier treatments of these topics (such as a relative's biography of her) and either cites them as sources, or cites their shortcomings as reliable sources. The general approach to the topic is, "How did Jane Austin's novels acquire such popularity? How is it that even people who have not read the books, are still familiar with her characters and plots, and even some of the more memorable lines ("It is a truth universally acknowledged . . . ")?
The author deals (rather hastily, ISTM) with the recent film and miniseries adaptations; I wish she had done more there, as well as with the phenomenon of "fan fiction." Both of these get some attention toward the end, but not enough to do justice to them, especially in light of the details provided in other aspects of "Jane's Fame." For a book published so recently, I think there could have been more there. The book is so well written, I would have gladly read (or listened to) another 100 pages.
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on November 25, 2012
Do not mistake this book for a biography about Jane Austen, but it contains biographical information about Jane Austen. In fact this contained more biographical information (i.e. family, personality etc) then the previous 1000 page biography I read. This is the story of Jane Austen's writing and her rise in fame thru the centuries. I appreciated the minimal perspective that is available from her family and a more concise record of her life. So little is available about her, but this sticks to the facts and discusses the outside forces which have continued her career. Several times she was out of print, her family sold the copyright because they lost hope that it would ever be worth something and what her contemporaries. If you interested in how the publishing world really works I would highly recommend this book.
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