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Becoming Jane Austen (2003)

de Jon Spence

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638826,901 (3.66)27
Jon Spence's fascinating biography of Jane Austen paints an intimate portrait of the much-loved novelist. Spence's meticulous research has, perhaps most notably, uncovered evidence that Austen and the charming young Irishman Tom Lefroy fell in love at the age of twenty and that the relationship inspiredPride and Prejudice, one of the most celebrated works of fiction ever written. Becoming Jane Austen gives the fullest account we have of the romance, which was more serious and more enduring than previously believed. Seeing this love story in the context of Jane Austen's whole life enables us to appreciate the profound effect the relationship had on her art and on subsequent choices that she made in her life. Full of insight and with an attentive eye for detail, Spence explores Jane Austen's emotional attachments and the personal influences that shaped her as a novelist. His elegant narrative provides a point of entry into Jane Austen's world as she herself perceived and experienced it. It is a world familiar to us from her novels, but inBecoming Jane Austen, Austen herself is the heroine.… (més)
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    Orgull i prejudici de Jane Austen (Kegsoccer)
    Kegsoccer: After learning about Jane, be sure to pick up her books. This one is perhaps her most well known.
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Can't ever have enough Jane Austen... but really thrilled at the movie that was created from the whisper of Tom Lefroy in this biography. ( )
  lissabeth21 | Oct 3, 2017 |
I've been a fan of Jane Austen's writing since I was 13 years old but I didn't pick up a biography on her until a couple years ago and I finally got around to reading it. Although I've known the basic biographical outline of Austen's life for a long time, it was interesting to get a far more in-depth treatment.

This is the biography that was used as the basis for the film Becoming Jane (and while I know and understood why others had issues with it, I love it) so Tom Lefroy is given a bit more consideration than I would imagine he garnered in other Austen biographies. However, I felt the biography was well-balanced and gave equal space to each phase of Jane Austen's life. I also found the Austen family history included in the book interesting although the continued reusage of the same names in each generation did make it difficult to keep everyone straight at times.

Because Jane Austen did not keep a diary and only some of her letters survive, Spence does make some speculations about her life, emotions, and thoughts that some people may find contentious. I took no issue with his arguments but I can understand why others could and my viewpoint may change when I eventually get to reading Jane Austen's letters. His discussion of themes in her various novels and how they were influenced by her life experience were interesting and the only point where I found it wearing was in his discussion of the fragment Sanditon, which seemed too long. My only complaint is that Spence ended the biography with Austen's death and did not cover the posthumous publication of her last two novels nor give any explanation about the lives of the rest of her siblings which I felt would have been a slightly more satisfying conclusion.

An interesting biography and one I would be tempted to compare with other Jane Austen biographies to see how Spence's interpretations differ with those of previous biographers. ( )
  MickyFine | Jun 23, 2011 |
Becoming Jane is an enlightening read; I do not agree with all Spence's arguments, but he does raise some intriguing points.

Read my complete review here: http://things-she-read.org/2010/05/03/becoming-jane/ ( )
  emperatrix | May 3, 2010 |
Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence is a pleasant read even though the first 30 or so pages of the book is a bit like reading someone's description of a topographical map: lineage descriptions are too tedious. After the initial laying out of the Austen family tree, the pace of the book improves. Spence makes a case that her personal experiences and family history inform her writing much more than a string of classic plays or novels read as a part of her formal education. He certainly indicates that she took plot lines or names from a beloved book or family history and adapted them to her own works, but the significant issue to Spence is that she wrote about her own life and the lives of her family and friends under cloak of fiction. I'm not sure that that idea alone is all that ground-breaking, but the application of that idea to what is known of her life and her novels is interesting to consider. I wish we had more information about her life and that more of her original letters still existed. I assume the point of these sorts of pieces is to inspire readers to go back to the original works and read them with a different set of questions/information in mind. If that's the point, then Spence was successful. ( )
  Voracious_Reader | Mar 28, 2010 |
I actually read the first 2-3 chapters of the book before the library loan expires, then I forgot/confused which exact page I left last, so I am thinking of just starting from beginning again. ( )
  nothingtosay | Jan 16, 2010 |
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Ich stimme völlig zu, daß man es als Historiker mit dem Detail sehr genau nehmen muß ; solange man nicht alle beteiligten Charaktere und uMstände in Betracht zieht, läßt man Fakten außer Acht.
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To Phyllis Yohe, Franklin Dyal and Mary Stevenson- friends of my youth
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In 1704, the presumed heir to the Austen family fortune, John Austen, lay dying of consumption at the age of thirty-four.
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Jon Spence's fascinating biography of Jane Austen paints an intimate portrait of the much-loved novelist. Spence's meticulous research has, perhaps most notably, uncovered evidence that Austen and the charming young Irishman Tom Lefroy fell in love at the age of twenty and that the relationship inspiredPride and Prejudice, one of the most celebrated works of fiction ever written. Becoming Jane Austen gives the fullest account we have of the romance, which was more serious and more enduring than previously believed. Seeing this love story in the context of Jane Austen's whole life enables us to appreciate the profound effect the relationship had on her art and on subsequent choices that she made in her life. Full of insight and with an attentive eye for detail, Spence explores Jane Austen's emotional attachments and the personal influences that shaped her as a novelist. His elegant narrative provides a point of entry into Jane Austen's world as she herself perceived and experienced it. It is a world familiar to us from her novels, but inBecoming Jane Austen, Austen herself is the heroine.

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