Read Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley Online

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On the eve of the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen's death, take a trip back to her world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses - both grand and small - of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the endOn the eve of the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen's death, take a trip back to her world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses - both grand and small - of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'. Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but - in the end a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy. Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's At Home with Jane Austen is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home."...

Title : Jane Austen at Home
Author :
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ISBN : 9781250131607
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 387 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Jane Austen at Home Reviews

  • Diane
    2019-03-26 11:35

    I loved this biography of Jane Austen so much that while reading it I was bursting with enthusiasm and couldn't stop talking about it.Historian Lucy Worlsey focused on Jane's experiences in her different homes and on how her novels treated life at home. I especially appreciated the details about Jane's relationship with her parents and siblings, the joy of when she got her first writing desk (which I was lucky enough to see on display at the British Library), and the details about how her work finally got published. I have read several books about Jane Austen, and this is one of the most enjoyable for its mix of real life and details from her writing. I thought the whole book was fascinating, and the author's examples from Jane's work made me want to reread all her novels. (Although this is not a new phenomenon; on any given day, whatever I'm doing, I'd likely rather be reading a Jane Austen novel. Or watching one of the movies.)Anyway, I enjoyed this biography so much that I want to get my own copy and add it to my Austen shelf. "One can never have too many biographies of Jane Austen," is a thing I have actually said. Highly recommended for Janeites. Now pardon me, but I need to go watch "Pride and Prejudice" for the thousandth time.Meaningful Passage"For Jane, home was a perennial problem. Where could she afford to live? Amid the many domestic duties of an unmarried daughter and aunt, how could she find the time to write? Where could she keep her manuscripts safe? A home of her own must have seemed to Jane to be always just out of reach. With only a tiny stash of capital hard earned by her writing, the death of her father forced her into a makeshift life in rented lodgings, or else shunted between the relations who used her as cheap childcare. It's not surprising, then, that the search for home is an idea that's central to Jane's fiction."

  • abby
    2019-03-04 13:14

    Jane Austen is a household name, and we know very little about her. Historian Lucy Worsley seeks to change that by focusing on the famous author's life at home-- and lack there of one. What emerges is a story of the precarious business of being a woman in Georgian England. Your home is wherever your male relations deem to keep you. And it was no different for Jane Austen. When her father retired, she lost rights to her beloved childhood home in Stevenson, and all of her possessions, including books, were sold for the trouble. It began an almost nomadic existence for the unmarried Austen women, dependent on the generosity of more moneyed relations, living wherever they could be stashed conveniently and cost effectively.Worsley ties the circumstances of Jane's home life to that of the characters in her novels. For me, it's a bit contrived. Worsley's writing style is enjoyable, and infused with a wit would make her idol proud. Even so, I found this book dragged. There really isn't enough known about Austen to write a full length biography. I commend Worsley for not going down the road of many of her predecessors in trying to sensationalize or romanticize Austen or make her life into more than what it was. However, what that leaves is a short, rather dull story. Is it possible that someone so endearing and sharp in print as Jane Austen was in fact boring in life? Yes, I think so.Worsley makes her 350 pages by shifting focus to many of Jane's relatives. I read an advanced copy, so I don't know what changes have been made to print, but a family tree would have been a helpful addition. It seemed like every other female relative was named Fanny, and it was difficult to follow at times. This isn't a bad book, and Worsley is a good writer and historian, but it was a bit of a chore to finish.Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for giving me a copy of this book to review.

  • Tony Riches
    2019-03-19 09:36

    I can say with some confidence that, after reading this book, you will never read Jane Austen’s works in quite the same way again. I also wonder if, like me, your mental picture of Jane Austen is a blend of the famous ‘portrait’ by her sister Cassandra and Anne Hathaway’s memorable portrayal in TV’s (historically inaccurate) ‘Becoming Jane’? If so, you must read this brilliant new work by Lucy Worsley.Lucy’s lively style and relish in fascinating details shines new light on the real Jane Austen. Most of what I thought I knew was right – but lacking the vital context provided as we study the reality of Jane’s home life. In the modern vernacular, we would say she was ‘just about managing’ for most of her time, although Lucy helps us understand what was considered normal in Georgian society – and what was not.Jane’s sister destroyed many of her letters deemed ‘personal’ and those which survive have been described as ‘mundane.’ Lucy Worsley disagrees and finds delight in the trivia. She says, ‘...her personality is there, bold as brass, bursting with life, buoyant or recalcitrant as each day required. These letters are a treasure trove hiding in plain sight.’ I was also fascinated to realise Jane knew her letters could be read aloud, often over breakfast, so used a code known to her sister to ensure discretion.To return to what Jane might have looked like, Lucy suggests she was around five feet seven, with a twenty-four inch waist (the alarming consequence of wearing tight stays as a girl). She rebukes biographers who describe her as a ‘plump, dumpy woman’ based on Cassandra’s portrait rather than the evidence. Similarly, the romantic image of a lonely writer fits poorly with the known facts.I was intrigued by the glimpses of the author’s own formative years. By wonderful coincidence Lucy attended the Abbey school in Reading where Jane Austen was sent as a border at the age of thirteen. (She also stayed at the same house as Jane Austen by the sea in Lyme Regis.) As we approach the two hundredth anniversary of Jane Austen’s death on the 18th of July, I highly recommend this new book, which establishes Lucy Worsley as one of my favourite authors.Tony Riches

  • Emma
    2019-03-21 16:28

    I'm not usually a fan of biography but this was truly fascinating: an homage to the single woman. As with many people of genius, her work never really brought her fame or wealth during her lifetime ( she made about £600) over her lifetime). The historical context of her life, spanning the napoleonic war, the details of the bawdy rowdy Georgian years and sensibilities, the irony that Austen, creator of the modern romantic sensibility should herself never marry or find that kind of love, very much struck a chord with me. I chuckled at the fact that, while Bath is a city for Austen fans, Jane herself disliked it for its rowdy elements and was unable to write while living there!Recommended.

  • Teresa
    2019-03-12 08:22

    This is a fantastic read. I've read a few Jane Austen Biographies and some were a bit high brow and I had to trudge through others. It's all change with this one. The chapters were laid out clear and concisely. It started with her early days and went right through in order. As usual the chapter about her death is extremely sad but very well done. I thought I knew all there was to know about Jane but I picked up some new snippets here. I was pulled into this book as soon as I started reading. I stopped to do a group read of another book and couldn't wait to get back to it. Enthralled again as soon as I picked it up.For anyone who's new to Jane Austen's novels or just Jane herself, I'd highly recommend this book.

  • Kristin Davison
    2019-03-02 12:25

    To celebrate the 200th anniversary of the death of Austen, Worsley has come out with a lively biography that focuses on Austen’s homes (or lack of them). This angle gives an interesting insight into how Austen lived her life day to day and how much this influenced her work. Worsley’s style of writing is clear, entertaining and easy to read, I flew through the book. The information that is presented is very well researched and gives a real idea of who Austen really was and what she looked like. What Austen looked like is hard to determine, but Worsley presents a clear image that is oddly familiar. Austen becomes a “modern” woman with a temper and a want of independence. This biography packs a punch, I learnt so much from it. It has just the right amount of contextual information is included, informing the reader about the era without overwhelming them or turning the biography into a textbook on the era. Worsley debunks myths about Austen herself and the era in which she lived and wrote. I loved that Worsley includes historical and archaeological evidence, as a hopeful future archaeologist myself, this is refreshing. The influence behind Austen’s novels is obviously discussed, but Worsley brings forward new and interesting ideas. The idea of Austen as a “modern” woman who didn’t like having to do domestic chores is explored along with the subtlety of her novels and where the original spark of imagination for her writing came from. I love that Worsley suggests that this may have come from Austen’s time at the Abbey school Reading, though I may be bias as I was born in Reading. In conclusion this is a fantastically entertaining book that is completely worth picking up, I now have a list of places I want to visit and stay at along with books to read. Dr Lucy Worsley is the Chief Curator of Historic Royal Palaces, covering Hampton court, the Tower of London, Kensington Palace, Banqueting Hall, Kew Palace and Hillsborough Castle. Worsley gets amazing behind the scene access to these properties and often tweets about the goings on. She is an insightful writer having recently released two childrens’ fiction books based on Katherine Howard and Queen Victoria and is also regularly seen on TV, including her latest series Six Wives. Twitter = @Lucy_Worsley------------------------------------------------I would like to thank Lucy Worsley and Maddy Price at Hodder & Stoughton for sending me a physical proof copy! I look forward to reading it :)

  • Abi White
    2019-03-04 12:19

    I am a massive Janite, but am still Shocked that I have read a biography at such a pace. This really did "feel" more like a work of fiction, and managed to be fun despite doing nothing to gloss over the fact that being a poor unmarried "gentleman's daughter" sounds like my idea of hell. I will certainly be seeking out Lucy Worsley's other books, and will be making a pilgrimage to some of the places described in such great detail. I cried at the end. Does that count as a spoiler?

  • Damaskcat
    2019-03-08 09:34

    I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley.Lucy Worsley succeeds in presenting a three dimensional Jane Austen in this fascinating biography. She shows how the Austen family tried to sanitise the picture which was presented to the world after Jane's death but the evidence is still there if you choose to look for it. By reference to previous biographies, primary sources, the novels themselves and the juvenilia the author pieces together a very much more robust picture - warts and all.It is well known that Cassandra Austen - Jane's sister - destroyed some of her letters after her death to help create the picture of her which has been handed down through the generations. But there is enough evidence in the surviving letters to show that Jane's character was not all sweetness and light. She was someone who belonged to the more robust culture of the eighteenth century rather than the more mealy mouthed and buttoned up nineteenth century culture.You only have to read Sense and Sensibility and appreciate the earthy vulgarity of Mrs Jennings to know that Jane Austen must have been aware of aspects of life which would not automatically be associated with a maiden aunt. Her letters show she was something of a flirt and had many possible suitors - all of whom she refused in the end. Jane Austen was very much aware of the facts of life.She also had a very well developed sense of the ridiculous and a sense of humour which could see something amusing in most situations. She also enjoyed misleading people and her letters and the novels can be read on many levels and it is very far from clear whether she is joking or being serious.This is a book to read and re-read and Lucy Worsley has written what to my mind is one of the best books about Jane Austen ever written. The book contains a comprehensive bibliography as well as an index ad notes on sources throughout the text. If you only read one book on Jane Austen this year then make it this one.

  • Leslie
    2019-02-27 16:21

    This is a meticulously researched bio of Jane Austen, warts and all. We follow Jane and her family from home to home, including schools, visits, vacations, assemblies, even occasional Inns. This is a book by a Janeite for Janeites. There were some points where I was reading about cousins and neighbors and wondering 'wait where is Jane in all this again?'You really understand the 'genteel' poverty the Austen women suffered from after her father's death. And will marvel at how some relatives of means could have easily elevated them but didn't. Ms. Worsley even points out how miserly their existence at the cottage compared to the luxury of the Knight family enjoyed only a few yards away. The text ends at 74% on the Kindle with the remainder of the book filled with acknowledgements and the meticulously researched footnotes.

  • Siria
    2019-03-14 08:10

    This year is the bicentenary of Jane Austen's death, and Lucy Worsley's biography is an excellent memorial to her. The prose does at times get a bit affected, but this is overall a warm, clear-eyed look at the life of a pioneering author. Worsley is careful to avoid sensationalism—she neatly dismantles, for instance, the old canard that Tom Lefroy was the "real Mr. Darcy", the love of Austen's life who got away—or the temptation to assume that all of Austen's heroines are somehow copies of her, their narratives the key to Austen's own private life. Instead, to much greater effect than any other biography of Austen's that I've read, Worsley teases out the quiet desperation of being a woman perched on the precarious ranks of the lower gentry in Georgian England, the way Austen's novels turn on issues of home and security, and the then revolutionary nature of Austen's prose and her concern with the importance of women's feelings. (How many novels before Austen foregrounded women's wants and desires?) It's still quite astounding to think that a woman with little formal education, who was never part of salon society or a correspondence networks of other authors, managed to sit in a succession of small rooms and come up with an entirely new approach to novel writing which may now seem commonplace but which still resonates.

  • Tiffany
    2019-03-01 12:18

    I received this as an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher. I enjoyed Worsley's approach in explaining Jane Austen's life according to her residences. The enthusiasm and detail that shines through kept me engaged from page one through to the conclusion. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to gain insight into the life of Jane Austen-not just her works, but how she lived her day to day. I can also see this as a useful companion book to a class being taught about Jane Austen, particularly at the graduate level.

  • Galena Sanz
    2019-03-24 11:20

    Cuando vi que este libro iba a salir a la venta supe que quería leerlo. ¿Conocéis esa sensación de cuando veis un libro e intuís que os va a gustar? Obviamente en este caso acerté, ha sido una lectura maravillosa.He descubierto muchas cosas que no conocía de Jane Austen y aunque en Cartas ya había visto mucho de su vida, con este libro me he organizado mejor sobre quien era quien y qué posición ocupaban en su vida sus padres, sus hermanos, sus cuñada, sobrinas y pretendientes. La autora hace un gran trabajo citando dichas cartas, pero no se limita a las de Jane o su familia, sino que también aporta citaciones de otras personas contemporáneas de esa época para que podamos hacernos una idea clara de lo que significaba vivir en ese momento histórico.También ha sido magnífico que la autora relacione hechos de la vida de Jane con sus novelas. Podemos ver como se inspiró en algunos de sus familiares para crear algunos de sus personajes, a veces incluso intuimos que en ella misma. Por ejemplo, la señora y la señorita Bates, en Emma, junto a su sobrina Jane Farifax podrían haber sido Jane, Cassandra y su madre, viviendo juntas en una pobreza que nunca se imaginaron. Asimismo, se desprende mucho de la importancia que Jane le da al hogar y podemos ver cómo va evolucionando su opinión sobre el tema en sus diferentes novelas. Las descripciones de las casas parroquiales tienen mucho de lo que ella vivió, de la costa y el mar, de las grandes mansiones…Para mí, Worsley hace un gran trabajo al relacionarlo todo, podemos ver el conjunto. No solo a la Jane escritora o a la Jane tía y hermana, todo junto y bien contextualizado. Creo que esa es la razón por la que sienta que conozco mucho mejor a Jane Austen y su contexto, entiendo mejor a lo que se tuvo que enfrentar y a lo que se debían enfrentar las mujeres en su época. O se casaban y se centraban en ser madres (muchas de ellas corriendo grave peligro) o se quedaban solteras, dependientes de sus familias, a veces sin hogar y sin recursos, y por supuesto, ocupaban un papel en la sociedad muy denostado.También podemos seguir de cerca sus peripecias a la hora de publicar y escribir. Quería ganar dinero con sus novelas y lo hizo, aunque no tanto como debiera. A Jane le gustaba leer las críticas sobre sus novelas y he disfrutado mucho esos momentos, podemos intuir la emoción de ganar por fin su propio dinero, de saber que su escritura era valorada (en su entorno familiar James Austen, su hermano, era considerado el escritor de la familia).El estilo narrativo es muy ameno, Lucy Worsley deja caer su opinión bastantes veces y no me avergüenza admitir que suelo estar de acuerdo con ella. Somos fans de Jane Austen y se nota, por ese si te gusta la autora este es un libro que no te puedes perder, dudo que defraude a nadie.Dicho esto, os animo a darle una oportunidad a esta biografía y a las novelas de Jane Austen, si todavía no lo habéis hecho, es una escritora que merece mucho la pena. Sus novelas mejoran con cada relectura, tiene el poder de mostrarnos algo nuevo cada vez que las leemos y son una joya para mostrarnos cómo era la vida en su época.

  • Nancy
    2019-03-06 14:27

    I have been reading Jane and about Jane for thirty-nine years. I found Jane Austen at Home to be revealing and thoughtful, expanding my understanding, and bringing Jane to life as a living, breathing woman. I so enjoyed every bit of Jane Austen at Home. "Miss Austen's merits have long been established beyond a question: she is, emphatically, the novelist of home."Richard Bentley, publishing Jane Austen's novels in 1833Worsley offers this quotation at the beginning of her Introduction. The search for home is central to Austen's fiction, Worsley contends. Jane herself lost her first home, the Stevenson parsonage, upon her father's retirement. She moved from rental to rental before her eldest brother Edward, adopted into a wealthy family, offered his mother and sisters Chawton Cottage.Austen's characters are in need of a home, have lost a home, are concerned about home in some way. Charlotte even enters a loveless marriage with Rev. Collins to have a home. And yet Jane turned down the opportunity to be a woman with a substantial home with the brother of her dear friends.The book is about the importance of 'home' and how Jane was impacted by her homes. It is also about family, and friendships, and love affairs, and the greater world, and most of all, Jane's dedication to her novels and how she used the world she knew to create her fictional worlds.The book appears in four acts, a nod to Jane's love of theater and plays.Act One: A Sunday Morning at the Rectory presents Jane's childhood home and younger years, including her teenage trip to the Bath "marriage mart."Act Two: A Sojourner in a Strange Land follows Jane and her family into the series of rental homes, vacations, and visits after her father's retirement from ministry: Bath, Southampton, Lyme Regis, and their Bigg's friend's home Manydown. All of these locations appear in her novels.Act Three: A Real Home finds Jane, Cassandra, their mother and Martha Lloyd living in a gifted home provided by Edward (nee' Austen now Knight).Act Four: The End, and After concerns Jane's later years, last novels, and illness and death.It was interesting to read that, based on a pelisse Jane may have worn, her measurements were 33-24-33 and that she was a stately 5'7" tall. The small waist would have been from wearing stays as a girl. She had high cheek bones and full cheeks with good color, and long light brown hair with a natural curl.Jane had many suitors over her life; those who perhaps she wished would make an offer did not, and those who showed interest or did offer she turned down. As Worsley remarks, consider the novels that would never have been born had Jane wed! Had she married she may have ended up like her niece Anna, worn out by age thirty from successive pregnancies.Jane died two hundred years ago. Her family lived into the Victorian Age and endeavored to make Jane palatable to the new era by presenting a pious and loving Aunt Jane who excelled at spillikins. The real woman had a sharp wit and acerbic pen which she employed to earn money to live on. And Mrs. Austen, for all her ailments, loved to put dig her own potatoes and muck about in the kitchen garden! No wonder this Austen family seemed lacking in sophistication by Victorian standards.The impact of slavery, plantations in the Caribbean, and the Napoleonic Wars on Jane's world and her family are also shown. With brothers in the navy, relatives invested in slave plantations, the bank failure of one brother and an aunt who was charged with shoplifting, Jane's life was anything but sheltered!I am asking for this book as a birthday present, to sit on my shelf with my Jane Austen sets.I received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

  • Andrea
    2019-02-25 12:34

    Después de pasar unas cuantas semanas sumergida en la vida de Jane Austen me resulta muy difícil cerrar definitivamente esta admirable biografía. Esta especie de diario privado de alguien a quien quieres y ya no está aquí. No puedo decir otra cosa que: gracias, Lucy Worsley. Gracias por darnos a conocer "otra" Jane.

  • Eliza
    2019-03-20 10:11

    It's a little embarrassing to admit how much I cried at the end of this book -- especially since it's not like I didn't know how things would end! But I think my strong emotional reaction is a testament to how deeply Lucy Worsley draws you into Jane Austen's world. And despite my (many) tears during the last chapters, the vast majority of this book is enjoyable to read. I love how Worsley takes little things like furniture purchases and uses them to examine the day to day details of Jane Austen's life. I also love how she ties these details in with Austen's own letters to capture her spirit and humor. I'd highly recommend this to any Austen fans, even if you don't (like me) usually read a lot of biographies.

  • Katie
    2019-03-05 14:36

    When I was nine years old I had to do a report at school on a “Famous Woman.” I picked Jane Austen. Naturally, our tiny school library had no biographies on Austen, so I grabbed a book on Queen Elizabeth I instead. The irony here is that I would develop a lifelong obsession with the Tudors—but after reading this book, I learned that Jane Austen deeply disliked Queen Bess. Oops!What Lucy Worsley does with this book is truly astonishing. It’s meticulously researched, providing intricate details about the daily life of the Austen family. It also presents rich context into how Jane Austen’s relatives, experiences, and acute attention to changing public interests likely shaped the stories she told. I love the parallels that Worsley draws between Jane’s life and her works, but I also love that she stresses the difficulty of some things we take for granted, like travel (50 miles was an arduous distance to cover), and the expense of publishing when paper was a luxury.Twenty years after I went looking for this book, I’m so glad it found me at this time. I’m reminded why I love Austen’s work, of course, but this also brought me back to that indescribable feeling of experiencing her art for the first time. This book was truly a gift that arrived at the perfect moment.See more of my reviews: Blog // Instagram

  • Angela Smith
    2019-03-15 14:11

    I am an admirer of Lucy Worsley's history programs that she presents on television and her love of history is infectious. (Although I caught the bug for history at an early age) When this book came up for me to read and review I jumped at the chance because I wanted to see if her love of history transmitted as well to the written page. Jane Austen is a subject dear to my heart as well.I have read several books about Jane Austen and her life as well as her letters to her sister Cassandra. While I have enjoyed those books, none so much as this book about Jane's life. Lucy presents many interesting details about how the real Jane Austen was through thorough research. (You should see the extensive notes and bibliography listed at the back of the book)She presents a Jane Austen as a woman ahead of her time. There are various references to people that she could have married but it really seems she decided on the single life at an historical time when it wasn't acceptable to be unwed. After Cassandra lost her fiancée she never showed interest in finding another potential suitor either. Marriage wasn't a particularly appealing prospect back then except for financial security and the comfort of a roof over your head. The book tells Jane's life in depth without becoming bogged down and you can feel the author's love of the subject matter in how she writes it. However, this is no star struck account of Jane and hints at her wilder side that was supressed by the times that she lived in and how she was "expected" to behave. The book tells of her life from birth right up to past her death and how the family hoped to profit from her two unpublished manuscripts Northanger Abbey/Persuasion even after her death. There are family fallings out, hopes of expected inheritances, Jane's struggles to get published and even what many authors face, rejection of her work. There is a feeling that although she loved writing that she never really believed in herself. I wonder if it was due to members of her family downplaying her talent and focusing more on a brother who had had published sermons. It seemed Jane was only considered good as free childcare and in a domestic role rather than her talent as a writer. Life was tough and lived on a shoestring budget, even more so after the death of their father. It was fascinating to read about her development of her stories and I was surprised to read that Persuasion (My favourite Jane Austen novel) was started on August 8th (1815) which is my birthday. Reading about her stories, there was a lot of similarity in names of people she knew in real life that were very close to names she gave to characters of her books.This is a well rounded book that gives an interesting insight to one of Britain's most beloved classic writers. On the front of the book it says The perfect marriage of author and subject and of that I agree.

  • Amy
    2019-02-24 12:29

    2.5 StarsIn some respects, this book was a worthy addition to the saturated world Jane Austen biographies. It centers around the idea of the importance of a home in Jane Austen's life and writing. I enjoyed the author's emphasis about the single - and married - women who impacted Jane Austen's life and the way they banded about her. This is particularly contrasted with her more erratic brothers' behavior. Yet honestly, this book was a trudge to get through. I do not care for Lucy Worsley's style at all. She interjects herself into the narrative far too often. She repeats facts and stories and quotes in a redundant and annoying manner. She makes a few points about sex that really are meaningless and- as one other reviewer pointed out - exist only for shock value. Austen's various suitors get drummed up and dismissed as unworthy. In fact, Worsley dismisses marriage and childbearing as often as she brings it up. The "modern" attitude pervades each page and seriously distracts from her point about a home. Finally, what annoyed me most consistently about this book was the way Worsley persists in "finding" Austen in her novels. She pushes the idea that Austen represented her views about life in this character or that; Austen's plots must reflect the emotion and characters of her life. I just don't buy it. I will swallow that she based Emma off of her two favorite nieces, but not that her writing represents some secret, deep feelings she couldn't otherwise express. As this author is ever so fond of saying, you find in Austen's works what you look for. And in that sense, I do find Worsley and I come to very different interpretations!

  • QNPoohBear
    2019-03-04 10:20

    A new biography focusing on the domestic life of Jane Austen by historian and curator Lucy Worsley. Lucy Worsley takes into consideration the most recent scholarship on Austen and draws conclusions from examining private papers to attempt to flesh out the mere facts known about Jane Austen's life.While Lucy Worsley is a fun and engaging TV presenter, her writing style is a bit dry. This reads like a traditional biography and not one of her TV shows, unfortunately. Having read extensively about Jane Austen's life and times, this biography wasn't exactly what I was looking for. What I really liked was the quotes from diaries and letters of Jane Austen's contemporaries to give a better sense of what was going on at the time and what other women's lives were like. I also liked learning more about the extended Austen family and the affair of Stoneleigh Abbey. Also new and interesting is the fates of the Austen family homes. Lucy Worsley is guilty of speculating at times of what Jane actually meant. She also goes off on tangents at times on things indirectly relating to the home. Source material from Jane Austen is quite thin but I was expecting this book to stick to the subject of the home. A much better book about Georgian era homes and women is Amanda Vickery's Behind Closed Doors: At Home in Georgian England. Combine that with a good biography of Jane Austen and you'll have a pretty complete picture of what we know about Jane Austen. All the rest is conjecture.Be sure to watch the documentary that accompanies the book though. Lucy Worsley gains access to places not normally open to the ordinary public and visits places Jane Austen once lived. If you've never been on a Jane Austen pilgrimage of England, this is a must-see and even if you have, it's worth a watch.

  • Girl with her Head in a Book
    2019-02-23 12:30

    For my full review: http://girlwithherheadinabook.co.uk/2...Another day, another Jane Austen biography, this time coming from the undisputed high queen of BBC history documentaries, Lucy Worsley.  I had noticed this one being heavily trailed when I visited the Jane Austen House Museum - unsurprisingly, it also came with an accompanying television special.  Given Worsley's long-standing hobby of poking round old houses and talking about the lives of those who inhabited them, it makes sense that she has chosen to tell the story of Austen's life through an investigation of the places that she lived.  Linking these together, Worsley considers what the theme of the home meant to Austen both as a person and as an author.  Of course, the bigger question though has to be what, if anything, marks this biography out from the crowd?Worsley is clearly a long-term Austen aficionado, even noting with a certain amount of breathlessness that the two of them had attended the same school, although two centuries apart.  Indeed, Jane Austen At Home is a truly warm-hearted biography, full of admiration and respect for its subject.  Like so many others, Worsley seems to have her own ideas about the misconceptions which have gathered around Austen's life, noting that the Hollywood and BBC adaptations have tended to film in houses which would have been far bigger than the ones that Austen would have visited, let alone lived in.  Over time, we have raised Austen to a far grander life to the one she actually lived.The concept of the Big House is an important one within Austen's fiction - Elizabeth Bennet jokes that she fell in love with Mr Darcy upon seeing his 'beautiful grounds at Pemberley' and although we know she is not being entirely serious, we see what she was getting at.  Getting a home no matter its size means a lot to Austen's more impoverished heroines - Charlotte Lucas will even put up with Mr Collins to achieve this - something which is interesting since Austen's own domestic set-up was unstable for years.  After her father retired from Steventon, he decamped with his wife and daughters to Bath, apparently against Jane's will.  Once there, the family moved from lodging to lodging, each less pleasant than the last.  After his death, the women's circumstances declined still further until they were finally given a cottage by Jane's elder brother Edward.  Austen legend has long had it that Jane's writing is divided into two creative periods, one while living in the rectory at Steventon as young woman and a second once they had finally found their home at Chawton.  Supposedly, she needed a home to have the space to write.  Worsley explores why this might have been - questions of physical space must have been in place in cramped lodgings, particularly if, as Austen legend has always had it, Aunt Jane was so private about her work that she could never bear that anyone might see it.Still, Worsley dives into the family dynamics within the family with great gusto, speculating on Austen's relationship with her sisters-in-law, pondering what it meant that her brother George Austen was sent away.  She imagines the family theatricals, the drama around Edward Austen's adoption and her sister Cassandra's ill-fated engagement to Tom Fowle.  She pores over the letters from Austen's various brothers and decries their miserliness towards their mother and sisters.  While reading this, I could not help but hear the voice of Worsley herself throughout, particularly in the way in which she concludes paragraphs with acerbic comments which would fit in nicely in one of her documentaries.  She scolds biographer David Nokes for describing Austen as a 'plump dumpy woman' based on the rear sketch by Cassandra, noting that all he is really saying is that Austen 'doesn't look like a twentieth-century film star'.  Her use of exclamation marks and would-be cheeky remarks niggle in terms of style, such as the comment about how gusts of wind could make a muslin dress reveal 'the wearer's bum'.  Interestingly for someone who has tried their hand at writing fiction, I found Worsley's prose style to be less than smooth.I did feel a certain sense of fatigue though when Worsley suggested that while she held it to be highly unlikely that Austen ever had sex with a man, she could not rule out lesbian sex.  She explains about how the 'stakes would have been much lower', that this was an age when 'women very often shared beds' and that people were 'much less worried about lesbian sex in general', before conceding at the end of the paragraph that while the 'door of possibility' remains ajar, it is 'only by the very tiniest crack, and only in the absence of evidence either way'.  Ever since that ludicrous article about Jane sharing a bed with her sister Cassandra, the suggestion has been trotted out - can Austen hold no interest as a writer and a person without the world finding some way to sexualise her?  Certainly, Worsley is eager to point out all of the rude jokes that Austen obviously understood.  Not just the 'rears and vices' in Mansfield Park, but when Maria Bertram is visiting Sotherton, she climbs over a fence to follow Henry Crawford, only for Fanny to warn her, 'You will hurt yourself on those spikes'.  Worsley intones solemnly, 'And Maria does, in every sense'. Later she explains how the sea is synonymous with sex in Austen's fiction and that for Georgian gentlewomen, being buffeted by waves 'was a source of physical pleasure'.  It all felt like a slightly lame attempt to titillate and shock.One of the weaknesses of the book is how far it seems to echo Paula Byrne's The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things.  Byrne's 2013 book took a similarly domestic focus, looking at various artefacts from Austen's life to build a clearer picture of who she was as a person and a writer.  I was surprised though to realise that others have felt the same - Private Eye actually came out and accused her of direct plagiarism.  It seems unlikely that Worsley would have done so deliberately, but the situation does highlight the challenge of producing something fresh from such well-worn material.  Byrne has a smoother writing style than Worsley and has a more in-depth knowledge around Jane Austen herself.  On the areas where they differed - such as which family member was the subject of the not-so-flattering portrait of Elizabeth I (Byrne thought Aunt Leigh-Perrot while Worsley favoured Jane's mother), I tended to side with Byrne.Worsley approaches interesting material though when she considers how times were changing during Austen's life.  While nieces and nephews would anxiously tell biographers that their grandmother waited for company inside, Worsley points out that Austen's mother kept cows and had to work the land to make sure  her children were all fed.  There were recipe books around the house which the ladies obviously used.  With the advent of the Victorian era, Austen's descendants would come to feel embarrassed of their famous relative not merely because she wrote but also because she was insufficiently refined.  Jane had domestic duties which she frequently complained of and although her nephew emphasised that the ladies of his family 'had nothing to do with the mysteries of the stew-pot or the preserving pan', he is pretending towards a gentility which his family did not at that time possess.However, there is a certain superficiality to Worsley's pronouncements on Austen's romantic affairs, her certainty that were five suitors (at least one of whom I had never read anything of before) and that Jane refused them all because she wanted her novels to be her progeny - it felt like a very twenty-first century conclusion and seems to have little basis in evidence.  Likewise for Worsley's decision that Austen was 'let off' household responsibilities by her sister, mother and housemate Martha Lloyd because of her writing talent.  I think I might have enjoyed the television documentary but I found myself thinking that I had read a lot about the contemporary context in Eavesdropping on Jane Austen's England and then most of what was specific to Austen, I knew from The Real Jane Austen.  I also found myself thinking of Yaffe's observation through meeting lots of Austen fans in Among The Janeites, that people tend to see themselves in Austen.  Worsley got herself in hot water a few years ago for saying 'I have been educated out of the natural reproductive function. I get to spend my time doing things I enjoy.'  While I have absolutely no issue with her decision, it struck me that in this book, she seemed to impute a similar outlook onto her interpretation of Jane Austen and this seems a risky approach for a historian.It seems to me that far too much of this review has been spent picking holes in a book which I actually did enjoy.  Worsley writes with real enthusiasm and has clearly read the novels closely.  Jane Austen At Home contrasts sharply with Jane Austen The Secret Radical, particularly in its frequent quotations from the other traditional Austen scholars of whom Helena Kelly, author of Secret Radical, seemed to think so little.  Rather than being dismissed in a footnote, Claire Tomalin's Jane Austen: A Life is praised as 'a work of great perception and subtlety', although a few sentences later, Worsley completely disagrees with her.Still, I mentally raised my hands and cheered when Worsley observed how something 'a little strange happens to [Austen's] story-telling' when it comes to the crucial moment in her marriage plots - she suddenly steps back.  It becomes 'abrupt, almost perfunctory'.  The true excitement comes from the domestic set-up afterwards - Fanny Price finds the parsonage 'as dear to her heart' as anything else.  Yet Jane herself did not 'marry a house' as Worsley puts it, since she turned down Harris Bigg-Wither.  Worsley points out though that in her fiction, Austen's novels built a meritocracy, since in Persuasion, Sir Walter Elliot's improvidence means he has to leave Kellynch Hall and let the Navy move in.  Another fascinating observation Worsley made though was that the heroines she created while living in Steventon - the Bennet girls and Catherine Moreland - are quite immune to the fact that they will be leaving their homes upon marriage.  Those she wrote while living in Chawton, after all of the years of upheaval - Emma, Fanny Price and Anne Elliot - all tend to have more complex feelings about the idea.  Home really is a state of mind.One could almost fancy oneself as following in Worsley's footsteps as she pottered from the shadow of where Steventon rectory once stood, on to Bath, to Lyme and then to Chawton.  She reveals details of what each place would have been during Austen's time which are truly original.  Austen's books were grounded in the real world which she saw going on around her, but to the modern reader much of this context has been lost.  I liked too how Worsley tries to tap into this network of spinsters - Jane Austen, Cassandra, Martha Lloyd and the Bigg-Wither girls - who tried to support each other where they could.  Being an unmarried woman in Regency Britain was not for the faint-hearted - the more one reads of it, the more one could almost excuse Lucy Steele her bloody-mindedness - so it is heartening to read more of how they banded together.Jane Austen at home is a light-hearted and accessible exploration not just of Austen's life and routines but also of the Regency era as a whole.  Tracing through the homes that Austen walked through, it is thought-provoking to consider how different her life was, how enclosed her circumstances as a female and how utterly forgotten she would have been if she had never lifted her pen.  Worsley is a speculative writer, but her suppositions and theories are not unpleasant.  Worsley has written a pretty, pleasant book about a writer who she clearly adores and if feels more than anything like a retread, she would hardly be the first.  First-timers to an Austen biography need look no further.

  • Nick Imrie
    2019-03-14 11:19

    Lucy Worsley loves Jane Austen. It's very sweet to see her flare up, jumping into the text, not caring that she's got her authorial opinion all over the nice clean history. When Austen's ungrateful niece sneers at Austen for being less than a lady, Worsley leaps in to point out that the niece is prejudiced by her Victorian priggishness. When a nephew asserts that his aunt was certainly a lady who had no part in housework, Worsley stoutly defends the immense amount of work that the Austen women did as they clung onto gentility by their finger nails. When one biographer has the audacity to say that Austen might've been a bit chubby, Worsley is all fired up with measurements of Austen's surviving pelisse to prove that she was at least 5'7" and had a 24 inch waist.Worsley is utterly exasperated with biographers who bemoan how little we know about Austen, complaining that Cassandra burned or redacted so many of Jane's letters, that she left us no diary, that she had few possessions. There's plenty of Austen to be found for those who aren't too proud to look into the everyday details of women's lives and possessions. And Worsley does this with impressive scrutiny. She clearly has a vast knowledge of the time period, all the places Austen lived, and the customs and expectations of the time, the details of women's lives. The book would be worth it just for the extensive and fascinating information on the regency period, so it's somewhat marvellous that that's just a backdrop to a truly compelling life story.I was very emotionally invested in the story of Jane Austen's life. I was so sad for her when she had to leave Steventon, selling all her books. I was furious when her bloody brothers were swanning around with incomes in the thousands and couldn't even spare a hundred for their mother and sisters. And I simply cannot bear how many great women have died barely into their 40s. It's so tragic. We've got six wonderful books to remember her by, what a shame it wasn't more.

  • Jaksen
    2019-03-25 12:06

    Good book for the die-hard Austen fan. I read some sections, skimmed others, went back to re-read, and tbh, skipped parts here and there that just didn't interest me. Overall a rather meticulously-researched, diligently-written book on Austen that only adds to what we know, or think we know, about the author.Dry in places, but many a book like this is. Heartily recommended for those who can't get enough of Jane.I won this book through the Goodreads giveaway program, so as always, thank you, Goodreads!

  • Mandy
    2019-03-14 14:36

    A thoroughly readable and enjoyable account of Jane Austen and her world, with a well-judged balance of scholarship and anecdote. The tone is a little breathless at times, to be sure – but then it is Lucy Worsley and the occasional exclamation mark is to be expected. I’m not sure that we learn anything new here but it’s all presented in a fun and accessible way. Worsley is a populist historian and this is a populist book, but none the worse for that. I really enjoyed it, learnt quite a lot, and found that Jane Austen came alive in a way she sometimes doesn’t in more academic biographies.

  • Sofía Aguerre
    2019-03-25 12:26

    Me encariñé mucho y ahora estoy muy triste pero WORTH IT.

  • Rose (atelierofbooks)
    2019-03-06 12:28

    4.5 starsI confess I'm a notorious page skipper of biographies. I pass the dry, boring bits and only read the "good parts". But, somewhat annoyingly, even when I wanted to skip pages in this book I. Just. Couldn't.I was surprised by how emotionally invested in this I became. I felt stressed when Austen was forced out of her home, elated when she was published, nervous when she went to visit the king, and strangely bereaved when she died.Do I really care about Jane Austen's neighbor's wife or her cousin's first husband? No. Not initially. But I still ended up devouring every little word about them. Likewise with Georgian illnesses and petty crimes and all of the other hundreds of facts and anecdotes surrounding Jane Austen's life. Lucy Worsley places Austen within the context of her world and the result is a biography thats actually super fun to read! Biography often involves a lot of subjective interpretation (especially in the case of an elusive subject like Austen) but Worsley always presents a good argument and meticulous sources for her conclusions, drawing not only from historical materials but also consulting modern experts in everything from Georgian fashion to disease. She also presents important caveats to past Austen biographies. I think a large flaw in many of them is that they take Austen far too seriously. Worsley, however, reminds us that Jane Austen was funny! She was often joking, being sarcastic, and poking fun. I think its really important to view her letters through that lens.This book is mostly chronological but there is some jumping around in the timeline. This makes for a more interesting narrative but it can also become confusing because the cast of characters is huge. Many people are briefly introduced, disappear, then pop up in the story chapters later. Worsley does try to remind readers who these people were and what their relation to Austen was, but I sometimes wished I had been taking notes (I couldn't for the life of me keep all her brothers straight for instance). There's just as much Lucy Worsley in this biography as anything else. Her asides, commentary, and personal thoughts are peppered throughout and that could be a good or bad thing depending on how well you agree with her or enjoy her tone. She makes conjectures that the reader might not always agree with (I sometimes didn't), but that's fine! I find it way more fun to read a biography with personality (or else I'd just read Jane Austen's Wikipedia page).I do think its necessary to be familiar with at least some of Austen's work to fully enjoy this book because there are constant references to Austen's characters and plotlines. However, the weakest part of this book were the attempts at literary analysis. Worsley's literary interpretations felt...out of place. Almost like half formed ideas sandwhiched in between the narrative of Austen's life. They were more like suggestions with no space to grow and no elaboration. But they were also few and far between, only two or three paragraphs in length at a time...which is good (?) because I didn't care for them, but that also contributed the feeling that it didn't quite belong in this medium. Likewise the idea of Austen's Georgian legacy clashing with and being colored by the more repressed Victorians was super intriguing but only hinted at in the end. I understand this isn't a book about the Victorians or even Austen's legacy, but if you're going to bring it up... Ultimately, this is a biography you can curl up with and binge read like a novel. I was glued to it and a large reason was Worsley's sparkling humor and brightness. I'm a huge fan of Austen's work yet I had never been especially interested in her life. But I'm honestly so glad I read this because Jane Austen is someone well worth knowing.

  • Nikki
    2019-03-22 09:09

    This is the best biographical book on Jane Austen I have ever read. There are items of real interest in it, things I have never heard before. Lucy describes Jane’s life through the houses she inhabits, and gives real domestic insight into life in the Georgian age. Whilst she talks in depth about all of Jane’s novels, she also reveals to us Jane’s tiny novel written when she was young, were the chapters are all the sizes of tweets! I thought this was so clever to tell us Jane’s story in a modern way we can understand. This continues throughout the book, and I really felt I was reading with fresh eyes about an old loved subject that I already know so much about. If you love Jane Austen, and Lucy Worsley too, read this book, you will love it.

  • Elizabeth Moffat
    2019-02-25 09:28

    I have to admit to having a bit of a tentative relationship with Jane Austen when I was younger. I studied her novel Mansfield Park for English Literature A Level here in the U.K. and didn't relish the process when I was doing it! However, it was only afterwards when I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility that I realised what a brilliant novel it actually was and it gave me a newfound respect for her writing. I now consider myself a devoted Jane Austen fan and was delighted when Hodder and Stoughton sent me a copy of Lucy Worsley's new biography of Jane and the homes that she lived in throughout her life to celebrate the 200th anniversary of her death, bringing fresh insights into her character, family, hopes and dreams and how passionate she was about getting her work published.Jane Austen At Home is a tremendous piece of non fiction. It's obvious that the author is, in turn, also passionate about her subject and has carried out meticulous research in uncovering things that may have otherwise remained hidden from the general public. It was interesting to discover that a lot of things about Jane Austen were deliberately erased, like certain letters by her sister Cassandra or various tidbits of information about Jane's personality - goodness knows why as it was perfectly obvious to me that Jane was a normal (albeit incredibly talented!) human being just like anyone else. She had multiple suitors and marriage proposals rather than being the lonely spinster that has been occasionally portrayed historically. Jane made the decision herself not to marry/have children in the end which was hugely brave at a time when marriage would have given her financial stability especially when at times her family was at risk of becoming impoverished.I was also fascinated to learn about her work and her struggle to get published in more detail - how long it took, the difficulties she faced etc and was filled with admiration for her determination not to give up and the way she continued writing, in her own unique manner, refusing to change her style to conform with fashion. Of course, an author must draw a lot of inspiration for her characters from those around her but it was quite eye opening to discover who may have influenced some of her most beloved (and not so beloved!) characters in her real life situation. One of my favourite things about this biography was learning how much hardship Jane and her family went through i.e. being forced to move from her childhood home and sell her things, living in unsuitable places where she did not feel comfortable and constantly felt uprooted and their fight for financial security that was denied over and over again purely because they were the wrong sex.If you're an Austen fan like myself, Lucy Worsley has written a brilliant, captivating biography that really gets to the heart of what Jane Austen was all about as a person and as a writer. I was hugely compelled all the way through and even bitterly sad towards the end. Although we know Jane Austen died at a ridiculously young age it seems so unfair, being a writer of such promise that didn't receive half the recognition she deserved in her lifetime. This was actually my first experience of Lucy Worsley's writing and not only am I excited to see what she does next but I'm determined to re-visit her back catalogue. Thank you so much to Hodder and Stoughton for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review.For my full review please visit my blog at http://www.bibliobeth.com

  • Jasmin
    2019-03-08 12:32

    I love Lucy Worsley as a documentary host. And I love reading about female authors, my sisters in ink. So I fell deeply in love with this book. But it also made me feel more connected with Jane Austen then most book, Jane was more realistic without damning. The allowance of both temper and imperfections I love this Jane. The realist version of Jane I've been introduced to and is deeply one I can enjoy. The Victorian Jane is not, to quiet and too perfect. Someone like this Jane is one I can deeply admire. Thank you for this lovely book :)

  • Anna Middlewick
    2019-02-26 11:13

    I am usually not a huge fan of reading biographies for pleasure- as research, yes, but I always found them a bit boring for a bedtime read. Until this one. Lucy Worsley has been one of my favourite TV historians for a long time- her modern take on some older topics while being true to the facts really appeals to me, and this is the same when reading this book. The tone is modern and fast paced enough to keep the attention of a casual modern reader without sacrificing any detail of the historical facts- at times it feels more like a historic novel than a biography, really giving Jane Austen a character that modern readers understand and relate to, whether that is through politics or family trouble. Worsley really brings Austen to life in a way that sweeps away the idea of Jane Austen novels as being deep and complex, but shows the story of a young woman writing what she would like to read, even though her society was not ready for her.

  • Beth
    2019-03-21 11:36

    I was lucky enough to win a goodreads giveaway of an advance uncorrected proof of this book in softcover format. It took me a long time to get through the book, but it was partially because I've become so accustomed to reading e-books that it felt strange to pick up an actual book. And, I found myself wanting to savor the book and not hurry through. This author is an incredible researcher, and managed to weave in all the factual tidbits she discovered to make an incredibly complete picture. As Jane Austen was so under-appreciated in life, it had to be so difficult to find verifiable details of her life. As with Jane Austen's books, this biography was rich with the details of daily life that I always eat up in the books I most enjoy.