BOOK REVIEW: Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley

The Blurb (from Goodreads):

On the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen's death, historian Lucy Worsley leads us into the rooms from which our best-loved novelist quietly changed the world.

This new telling of the story of Jane's life shows us how and why she lived as she did, examining the places and spaces that mattered to her. It wasn't all country houses and ballrooms, but a life that was often a painful struggle. Jane famously lived a 'life without incident', but with new research and insights, Lucy Worsley reveals a passionate woman who fought for her freedom. A woman who far from being a lonely spinster, in fact, had at least five marriage prospects, but who in the end refused to settle for anything less than Mr Darcy

My Thoughts:

I am a proud Janeite, and have read many books and articles about Jane Austen and her vibrant, amusing and clever novels. This one is a fabulous addition to the oeuvre, and particularly suitable to those who want to understand more about the famous writer and her times without having to slog through the many thick dense academic treatises. Lucy Worsley’s style is warm and intimate, and her knowledge is immense. She has a particular knack for giving us a quick but keen insight into Jane’s life that helps illuminate her writing.


For example: ‘Jane all her life would be interested in ordinary, unexceptional girls and what might happen to them. Her quietest heroine of all, Fanny Price, had ‘no glow of complexion, nor any other striking beauty’, while Catherine Morland had ‘nothing heroic’ about her, and was ‘occasionally stupid’. Jane’s great achievement would be to let even the ordinary, flawed, human girls who read her books think that they might be heroines too.”

Later, writing about how modern and liberated her heroines seem in comparison to other literary women of the time, Lucy Worsley writes: ‘the enduring reason for Jane’s popularity today is that she seems born outside her time, to be more like one of us, for she lifelong expresses the opposite point of view: in favour of vitality, strength, independence.”


A wonderful literary biography with lots of insights into what everyday life was like for Jane and other women of the early 19th century.

You might also like to read my review of Anne Bronte: Take Courage:

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Kate Forsyth
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