Lucy Worsley Jane Austen at Home Hodder and Soughton Published 02 June 2017 (Given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review)
Paula Byrne The Genius of Jane Austen Harper Collins Published (given to me by the publisher in exchange an honest review)
2017 marks the 200th anniversary of the death of Jane Austen. So, expect Jane Austen to be at the forefront of cultural attention. But, when is she not? You see her face on many tee-towels, mugs, etc, etc. Her books are continually turned into; films, theatre productions and TV shows. Her face appears on a bank note. But, how much do we really know about Jane Austen? In this new crop of books, concerning different aspects of Austen life, Worsley and Byrne attempt to cast a new light on the life of this well-known author.
Lucy Worsley, traces Jane Austen’s life through the houses she lived in and her domestic life. Worsley takes on a trip around the various locations that make up Austen’s world, examining her life through every day documents, such as; diaries, recipes, budgets, and personal letters. She goes from Steventon, where Jane was born and lived for the first years if her life, to Chawton, and Winchester, where Austen spent her final years. Worsley looks at the struggles that Jane faced simply to survive, and prosper, on a limited budget.
Lucy Worsley mentions that the Austen’s often preformed plays. She points out that Jane Austen herself wrote theatrical works. Paula Byrne expounds upon this theme. Byrne contextualises Austen’s work with an analysis of the theatrical tradition that existed during Austen’s life and analyses the productions that the Austen’s, and their circle, performed. Byrne argues that the theatre played a large role in Jane Austen’s; life, education, and literary works. Before, examining how Austen’s work has inspired Hollywood, exploring the adaptions that have been made of Austen’s novels.
These two books are both interesting reads. If you want an overview of Austen’s domestic life then the Worsley is the one you should pick up. If you require an exploration of the work, and the works that inspired them, then the Byrne is for you. It would be great to read these books together. It would be great to read these two books in conjunction with Austen’s own works. Both books would make great reading for your Austen summer.