Jane Austen: Selected Letters selected and introduced by Vivien Jones
Anyone interested in Jane Austen’s life beyond her novels will enjoy reading her letters, which brim over with the literary traits that make her novels so attractive.
Particularly her letters to her beloved sister Cassandra are a joy to read, as the close bond between them warrants a wealth of details about their daily lives and social circle, observed with a keen eye and wittily phrased.
The letters selected by Vivien Jones begin in 1796, with a birthday letter from Jane to Cassandra, which also reflects the liking the young Jane felt for Tom Lefroy, and the closeness between the sisters which led Jane to include such unembarrassed confidences. Continuing to the end of May 1817 – Jane Austen died in July of that year – the letters in this collection highlight all the main events in the author’s life, but also give many insights into her day-to-day reality, and reflect her character, her hopes and ambitions, and her enjoyment in life and living. Even the letters describing her final illness contain witty lines and an interest in her surroundings and what absorbed the contemporary public.
The selection draws on the text of the letters printed in Deirdre Le Faye’s edition of Jane Austen’s Letters, and Jones also usefully provides a chronology, explanatory notes on the individual letters, and a glossary of people and places mentioned.
Both as a reference work and simply as an enjoyable read for Jane Austen lovers, this selection provides an excellent way in to the realities of the environment out of which Jane Austen’s novels developed.
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