Regular price: $24.95

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free.
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price.
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love.
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel.
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month.
OR
In Cart

Publisher's Summary

Which important Austen characters never speak? Is there any sex in Austen? What do the characters call one another, and why? What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? In What Matters in Jane Austen?, John Mullan shows that we can best appreciate Austen's brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction. Asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals the inner workings of their greatness.

In 20 short chapters, each of which explores a question prompted by Austen’s novels, Mullan illuminates the themes that matter most in her beloved fiction. Listeners will discover when Austen's characters had their meals and what shops they went to; how vicars got good livings; and how wealth was inherited. What Matters in Jane Austen? illuminates the rituals and conventions of her fictional world in order to reveal her technical virtuosity and daring as a novelist. It uses telling passages from Austen's letters and details from her own life to explain episodes in her novels: listeners will find out, for example, what novels she read, how much money she had to live on, and what she saw at the theater.

Written with flair and based on a lifetime's study, What Matters in Jane Austen? will allow listeners to appreciate Jane Austen's work in greater depth than ever before.

©2012 John Mullan (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    28
  • 4 Stars
    20
  • 3 Stars
    19
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1

Performance

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    19
  • 4 Stars
    20
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    2

Story

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    25
  • 4 Stars
    17
  • 3 Stars
    17
  • 2 Stars
    1
  • 1 Stars
    1
Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • SandieRS
  • Anaheim, CA, United States
  • 04-15-13

Just okay

Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

The subject matter was interesting but the narrator sounded as if he was reading it aloud for the first time during most of the narration, and although I love dear Jane, by the end of it I was trying to just not fall asleep. Only ardent Janeites will be able to get through this one.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

What matters is a helpful and very fun book

I bought this book both printed and audible. So interesting, engaging and very educational. Would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Jane Austen.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

For Austen Lovers Who Want To Know More

This book is an excellent glimpse into some of the "between the lines" aspect of Austen's novels. While the narration is a bit dry (to be expected in a non-fiction book, I suppose), it is still easy to listen to it and the information is enjoyable.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Intriguing details and background

This delightful book begins with curiosity, applies facts and literary insights, and solves mysteries through logical literary analysis and historical background. A fascinating read for anyone who enjoys Austen's six classic novels. As if they needed it, Austen readers will discover a thousand reasons to read each novel all over again.

John Mullan writes with humor, and a conversational, rather than purely academic, style. After listening to it in audio, I bought the book so I can read sections again.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Robot narration

What did you love best about What Matters in Jane Austen?

Great close reading

What was your reaction to the ending? (No spoilers please!)

N/A

Would you be willing to try another one of Paul Collins’s performances?

Nope.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No--better to get it in dribs and drabs.

Any additional comments?

Interesting topic; such a struggle to listen to due to the narrator

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Great for Austen Fans

This was really fun. I learned a lot about the time period and the secondary characters.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Robyn
  • United States
  • 12-11-17

Interesting, but not for everyone

I really enjoy observations by others when it comes to interpretations of Jane Austen's writings. This book raises some interesting topics for consideration, but I think some of it presents observations as fact rather than interpretations. Also, some of the "puzzles solved" are a real stretch and debatable on many levels. For a good well-versed in Jane Austen's writings, wt would be great to discuss this author's ideas and observations..

The narration is not appropriate and does not enhance the book. The reader sounds too much like he's reading the news. It makes the content comes across as flat and I think it impacts the overall impression of this audiobook.

Sort by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Lauren Moss
  • 04-06-18

Austen wrote novels, not cryptic crosswords

Mullan establishes up front that his goal is to explore historical context and the linguistic theory associated with Austen's oeuvre... but he happily dismisses the significance of feminist (and presumably other theoretical) readings of same, so proudly that you just know he was the guy on the Literature 101 course who memorised every theoretical term and definition in the course documents and volunteered boring, by the book responses in every discussion.

At one point he starts to get close to addressing what later readers found in the texts... and side steps that entirely.
Austen wrote novels, not puzzles, and Mullan doesn't seem to care about teasing out reader response at all.

While I found it smug, didactic, and reductive, this research is absolutely impeccable and well organised, and I imagine extremely useful for academic work (though with this audio version I can't get a look at any bibliography).

Sadly Paul Collins sounds like he was generated by Google, extremely disinterested in the text. Something a little disingenuous about being told about Austen by two men... can't think why.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Pamela
  • 03-22-17

Interesting but...

Any additional comments?

Every chapter, in itself, was interesting explaining the mores of the time; mourning, dress etc. But since there is only a small number of Jane Austin novels the same events and characters got explained again and again from different perspectives. Not a criticism of the author though (nor of Jane Austin!) and well worth a listen. Perhaps it may have been better to dip into a chapter at a time rather than as a continuous read.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • April
  • 01-17-15

Fun.

A great book with annoying moments. If you can look past some very irritating mispronunciations and a slightly dull reading voice it's a great book with some fascinating information and plenty of points to ponder further.