Jane Austen lived for nearly all her life in two Hampshire villages: for 25 years in her birthplace of Steventon, and then for the last 8 years of her life in Chawton, during which she wrote and published her great novels. While there are plenty of books describing her periods of urban life in Bath, Southampton and London, and the summer holidays in Lyme Regis and other West Country seaside resorts, no book has given consideration to the rural background of her life.Read more...
Jane Austen lived for nearly all her life in two Hampshire villages: for 25 years in her birthplace of Steventon, and then for the last 8 years of her life in Chawton, during which she wrote and published her great novels. While there are plenty of books describing her periods of urban life in Bath, Southampton and London, and the summer holidays in Lyme Regis and other West Country seaside resorts, no book has given consideration to the rural background of her life. Her father was not only the rector of Steventon but a farmer there as well, managing a property of some 200 acres. Her brother Edward, in addition, was a large landowner, holding the three estates of Godmersham in Kent, Steventon and Chawton in Hampshire. Agriculture, in all its aspects, was even more important to Jane than clerical life or the naval careers of her younger brothers. This book fills a gap in the Austen family background, discussing the state of agriculture in general in the south of England during the wartime, conditions which lasted for most of Jane Austen's life, and considering in particular the villages and their inhabitants, the weather conditions, field crops, farm and domestic animals, and the Austens' household economy and rural way of life. Apart from these obvious sources, there are other Austen family manuscripts, as yet unpublished, which provide particular and unique information. Richly illustrated with contemporary depictions of country folk, landscapes and animals, Jane Austen's Country Life conjures up a world which has vanished more than the familiar regency townscapes of Bath or London, but which is no less important to an understanding of this most treasured writer's life and work.
- ISBN-13: 9780711231580
- ISBN-10: 0711231583
- Publisher: Frances Lincoln
- Publish Date: June 2014
- Page Count: 272
- Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.85 pounds
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2014-05-12
- Reviewer: Staff
Biographer Le Faye (Jane Austen: A Family Record) brings her skills to bear on this examination of rural England in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, during Jane Austen’s lifetime—a setting that the Austen memorably depicted in her novels. Notes and letters from Austen’s life mingle freely with passages from her books, showcasing life in the countryside, from the summer beauty of Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley estate to a detailed account of pig slaughter that appears in Emma. The text jumps from novel to novel, which may confuse readers less familiar with Austen’s work. Moreover, Le Faye rarely delves into the narrative context of her examples, so readers looking for literary analysis are likely to be disappointed. However, the book’s friendly, rambling tone belies the thoroughness of its sources: passages from the local newspaper of Austen’s hometown, Steventon, illustrate the problems of rural crime, while historian Gilbert White describes the impact of a volcanic eruption on the weather of the period. The book is richly illustrated throughout with paintings and sketches contemporary to Austen’s writing. Fans will come away with a deeper appreciation for the world in which Austen and her characters lived. 70 illus. (June)