Jane Austen /
Carol Shields.
New York : Viking, 2001.
185 p. ; 20 cm.
0670894885 (alk. paper), 9780670894888 (alk. paper)
More Details
series title
series title
New York : Viking, 2001.
0670894885 (alk. paper)
9780670894888 (alk. paper)
general note
"A Lipper/Viking book"
catalogue key
A Look Inside
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Drainie-Taylor Biography Prize, CAN, 2002 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 2001-01-08:
Penguin's wonderful series of "lives," biographies unique in their manageable length and careful pairing of subjects with authors who are themselves important creative figures, delights once again, this time with a pithy literary biography of Jane Austen by Pulitzer Prize-winning fiction writer Shields (The Stone Diaries; Dressing Up for the Carnival etc.). With frankness, warmth and grace, Shields writes of an "opaque" subject who lived a short life and about whom very little is known beyond family letters. "Jane Austen belongs to the nearly unreachable past," Shields notes. There is no diary, no photograph, no voice recording of her; her life was filled with lengthy "silences," notably a nearly 10-year "bewildering" period starting in 1800, when Austen, unmarried and in her mid-20s, moved with her family from rural Stevenson to the more urban Bath. This period also "drives a wedge between her first three major novels and her final three: Mansfield Park, Emma, and Persuasion" and suggests Austen's "reconciliation to the life she had been handed... in a day when to be married was the only form of independence." Shields is especially interested in the sisterly relations between Jane and the "subsuming," older Cassandra, as "each sister's life invaded the other, canceling out parts of the knowable self." The insularity evident in their letters to each other reveals something puzzling about Austen herself. She is relatively provincial and inexperienced in matters both social and sexual, yet conveys a "trenchant, knowing glance" throughout her novels. Shields seems to conclude that of the two sets of writingsÄthe private letters and the published novelsÄthe novels themselves offer the greater insight into Austen's artful imagination and shrewdly judgmental character. (Feb. 19) Forecast: Recent film versions of Austen's novels have revived public interest in this classic writer. With Shield's high-profile name also on the cover, sales should be strong and steady (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Appeared in Library Journal on 2001-01-01:
Shields, a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist (The Stone Diaries) and devoted reader of Jane Austen, explores the family, private, and writing lives of the author of such beloved classics as Pride and Prejudice. Like Claire Tomalin (Jane Austen: A Life, LJ 1/98), she attempts to dispel the myth that Austen was oblivious to the world and its events. In chronicling her subject's life and personality, Shields emphasizes Austen's keen ability to listen, observe, and capture clearly the social mores of her time and explore human nature in her writing. Shields contends that historical references are behind many of the scenes and characters in Austen's novels, and as a way of more clearly personalizing Austen's experiences or feelings, she interjects commentary regarding writing and publishing that is presumably based on personal experience. These interjections tend to be a bit distracting but are fortunately brief and infrequent. This is a good introductory biography of Austen, but it lacks the interesting, intriguing, lively detail and scholarship of Tomalin's biography.ÄJeris Cassel, Rutgers Univ. Libs., New Brunswick, NJ (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews, December 2000
Booklist, January 2001
Library Journal, January 2001
Publishers Weekly, January 2001
Guardian UK, February 2001
Los Angeles Times, February 2001
Quill & Quire, April 2001
Globe & Mail, June 2001
Books in Canada, April 2002
New York Times Book Review, May 2005
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Unpaid Annotation
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist celebrates the life of Jane Austen, one of the most renowned and beloved female novelists of all time, revealing both the very private woman and the acclaimed author of such enduring classics as "Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice", and "Emma".
Unpaid Annotation
A Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist celebrates the life of one of the most renowned and beloved female novelists of all timeIn her brilliant 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 trademarks of her award-winning novels, Shields explores the life of a writer whose own novels have engaged and delighted readers for the past two hundred years. Jane Austen reveals both the very private woman and the acclaimed author behind the enduring classics Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, and Emma. With her forceful insight and gentle wit, she was the ultimate chronicler of the mores and manners of her time as well as a groundbreaking author who would influence many of our greatest contemporary novelists.Who was this woman that created both characters that leap off the page and entertaining plots, yet managed to quietly challenge a strict social order? What gave her the motivation to continue writing when women were excluded from the publishing world? In this compelling and passionate biography, Carol Shields explores the life of this amazing woman: from her early family life in Stevenson, to her later years at Bath, her broken engagement, and her tumultuous relationship with her sister Cassandra.

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