The Real Jane Austen

A Life in Small Things
Narrated by: Kate Reading
Length: 13 hrs and 31 mins
4.4 out of 5 stars (87 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things offers a startlingly original look at the revered writer through a variety of key moments, scenes, and objects in her life and work. Going beyond previous traditional biographies which have traced Austen's daily life from Steventon to Bath to Chawton to Winchester, Paula Byrne's portrait - organized thematically and drawn from the most up-to-date scholarship and unexplored sources - explores the lives of Austen's extended family, friends, and acquaintances.

Through their absorbing stories, we view Austen on a much wider stage and discover unexpected aspects of her life and character. Byrne transports us to different worlds - the East Indies and revolutionary Paris - and different events - from a high-society scandal to a petty case of shoplifting, She follows Austen on her extensive travels, setting her in contexts both global and English, urban and rural, political and historical, social and domestic - wider perspectives of vital and still underestimated importance to her creative life.

Literary scholarship has revealed that letters and tokens in Austen’s novel’s often signal key turning points in the unfolding narrative. This groundbreaking biography explores Jane's own story following the same principle. As Byrne reveals, small things in the writer's world - a scrap of paper, a simple gold chain, an ivory miniature, a bathing machine - hold significance in her emotional and artistic development.

The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things introduces us to a woman deeply immersed in the world around her, yet far ahead of her time in her independence and ambition; to an author who was an astute commentator on human nature and the foibles of her own age. Rich and compelling, it is a fresh, insightful, and often surprising portrait of an artist and a vivid evocation of the complex world that shaped her.

©2013 Paula Byrne (P)2013 HarperCollinsPublishers

What listeners say about The Real Jane Austen

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For fans of Austen, Regency England

Absolutely loved this book. The author weaves in historical events, places, objects, existing correspondence to/from/about Austen, and quotes from Austen's writing to give a fascinating view of Jane Austen and her world. It's well written and Kate Reading's narration is, as always, wonderful.

5 people found this helpful

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I keep re-listening to it!

I didn't discover Jane Austen until just after college. She has become my favorite writer over the years. I've read several biographies, but this one is different. It's about her development as a writer and a human being, appropriately through the lens of small details, some of which we wouldn't ordinarily associate with her. It's the first book I've read about her that comes closest to making Austen's personality three-dimensional, brings her to life, so to speak. Every time I listen, I better understand the subtlety of her genius, especially in the context of the times in which she lived, and how they are reflected in her books. The Narrator, Kate Reading, is a familiar voice to me, having listened to the entire Pink Carnation series she narrated. I like her reading, and her tone is just right for the subject. As an English teacher, Austen reader, and literary analyst, I thoroughly recommend this book.

1 person found this helpful

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A very enjoyable and personal biography

A long book, but still interesting. It brings a unique and detail oriented view of Jane Austen and her life and writings.

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Understanding what could have informeher writing

A lot of the biographies didn't make sense. Her writings are not at all uninformed of "the stormy sisterhood" of the passions as the Bronte (I think ) criticism states. This work follows logical and detailed paths to discover what in her life would have given her such depth of knowledge.

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Reference Book...NOT for Pleasure Reading!

Very technical and boring...probably better in print, as an actual study guide then a real easy listening biography of Jane Austen. I had to return it...it was putting me to sleep. :( I needed a book to keep me awake!