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Jane Austen (2001)

de Carol Shields

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7252124,421 (3.71)69
"In her fictional biography, The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields created an astonishing portrait of Daisy Goodwill Flett, a modern woman struggling to understand her place in her own life. With the same sensitivity and artfulness that are the trade-marks of her award-winning novels, Shields here explores the life of a writer whose own novels have engaged and delighted readers for the past two hundred years." "In Jane Austen, Shields follows this superb and beloved novelist from her early family life in Steventon to her later years in Bath, her broken engagement, and her intense relationship with her sister Cassandra. She reveals both the very private woman and the acclaimed author behind the enduring classics Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. With its fascinating insights into the writing process from an award-winning novelist, Carol Shields's magnificent biography of Jane Austen is also a compelling meditation on how great fiction is created."--BOOK JACKET.… (més)
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Es mostren 1-5 de 21 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Well, I was definitely interested in the subject matter. This was actually the first biography of Jane Austen that I've read. And it was interesting and easy to read. But I wish there would've been more depth to it and I think it was altogether too short, the actual biography being less than 200 pages. But I would say this was an ok starting point for me. Looking forward to reading more :) ( )
  RankkaApina | Feb 22, 2021 |
I read this book as part of the Dead Writers Society's Genre Fiction Challenge for June 2016 and the Literary Birthday Challenge for 2016. At this point I am wishing I chose the other book for the genre challenge.

I don't know what to say here besides this entire book read as someone who seemed to think that Jane Austen was not that attractive, was bitter and angry that she was a spinster, and who apparently was jealous that her sister Catherine was away from her.

Shields really doesn't give you any insight into Jane Austen. She has a bunch of theories that are based on the books she wrote. For example, she says that Austen must have only loved bookish men because all of Jane Austen's heroes read books. Hell I remember reading Mansfield Park and I don't recall Edmund reading. I do remember how sanctimonious he was to Fanny though.

I really wish that Shields had stuck with a straight autobiography. Instead this whole book read like a very badly put together Buzzfeed article mixed with some references to Wikipedia.

I also really didn't like that the timelines were all over the place. Shields at times expects the reader to already know who people are at times and I got confused when she would retell certain people's biography again and again in the story (e.g. Austen's cousin Eliza is mentioned a lot in this book).

The writing is not much to write home about and I thought the flow was terrible. If the book had told a straightforward tale from Austen's birth to death that would have been something. Instead we jump around way too much.

I really don't know what else to say except that I found this book to be a complete waste of time and I only kept reading because I started to find it hilarious that if Shields saw that the color blue is mentioned in a story that must mean that Austen liked it. ( )
  ObsidianBlue | Jul 1, 2020 |
Insightful, although at times it seems that Shields tried to find Jane Austen in the contents of her fiction, and makes some powerful assumptions based on Austen's writing. One of these assumptions, that Austen may have been atheist based on the omission of any reference to faith in her books, is absurd. Disbelief would not have occurred to a clergyman's daughter in that era - or even later times - especially without outside influence, of which there was little in Austen's world. Despite other minor quibbles, mostly regarding a lack of focus, repetition, and financial details, this is a nice little book, useful for reference, that I will keep. Now I will follow up with a recent acquisition A Memoir of Jane Austen by her Nephew by James Edward Austen-Leigh as a comparison while Shields' work is still fresh in my mind, although without giving examples, Shields claims he "got a lot wrong". ( )
1 vota VivienneR | Mar 23, 2017 |
This is a solid little biography about Jane's life, going more into detail about how the events of her life shaped and affected her writing, than the actual life events. I know the basic outline of Jane's life and her publishing struggles, so it was interesting to get this author's insight into how Jane's life shaped her personality. I would recommend this for casual Austen fans as it helps give the authoress some life but isn't too heavy on details, keeping it from potentially being dull. ( )
  MillieHennessy | Feb 13, 2017 |
Amazing that so short a book could be so unsatisfactory for so many reasons. Just a few examples:

Shields insists all throughout the book that Austen "longed" all her life to be married, and that any happiness she managed to find was because she learned to live with disappointment. (Shields also mentions how annoying it is when readers conflate a fiction writer's life with her writing, right after "explaining" how much Austen has in common with the heroine of "Persuasion.")

Hold this book carefully if you do read it. If you tip it the least bit, all the billions of "Austen must have"s, "Austen would have"s, and "Austen surely"s will fall out and break your foot.

Shields hates "Lady Susan." HATES it. How on earth can anyone who loves Austen enough to want to write even a brief biography of her not enjoy this darkly hilarious novella?

Shields describes the money left to Austen's sister, Cassandra Austen, as not very much -- "certainly not enough to live on." The sum was a thousand pounds. A YEAR. The main character family (mother, two grown daughters, and one teenager) in "Sense and Sensibility" manage to live in cozy gentility, employing three servants, on 500 a year. A thousand pounds a year for a single woman with no dependents would have been *ample.*

Shields says that Emma is her favorite Austen heroine. She describes Mr. Knightley as drawing up lists of books for Emma to read. In fact, Mr. Knightley mentions admiring the lists of books Emma drew up for *herself* to read at various times of her life. The reader gets the feeling that she spent more time writing these lists than she ever did reading. Mr. Knightley saved one of the lists for some time, but he *never* wrote one for her.

At the end of the book, Shields offers a bizarre list of body parts Austen never mentions in her novels, including toes.

I could go on and on. Suffice it to say that halfway through this book, I was begging Jane Austen to die and put me out of my misery. ( )
  Deborah_Markus | Aug 8, 2015 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Carol Shieldsautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
Längsfeld, MargareteTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Lyytinen, MariaTraductorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat

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"In her fictional biography, The Stone Diaries, Carol Shields created an astonishing portrait of Daisy Goodwill Flett, a modern woman struggling to understand her place in her own life. With the same sensitivity and artfulness that are the trade-marks of her award-winning novels, Shields here explores the life of a writer whose own novels have engaged and delighted readers for the past two hundred years." "In Jane Austen, Shields follows this superb and beloved novelist from her early family life in Steventon to her later years in Bath, her broken engagement, and her intense relationship with her sister Cassandra. She reveals both the very private woman and the acclaimed author behind the enduring classics Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. With its fascinating insights into the writing process from an award-winning novelist, Carol Shields's magnificent biography of Jane Austen is also a compelling meditation on how great fiction is created."--BOOK JACKET.

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