Saturday 10 June 2017

Jane Austen at Home

Another day, another book about Jane Austen!  This one is particularly enjoyable.  Lucy Worsley is a charismatic historian and television presenter and brings her signature style to Jane Austen at Home.

I've read quite a few Austen biographies but there were lots of intriguing little details in this one that were new to me.  For example, Worsley ponders whether the new and fashionable paint colour 'patent yellow' or 'Indian yellow' which was all the rage in Bath at the time Jane, Cassandra and her mother were living there was used to paint the walls in the apartment they lived in.  She comes to the conclusion that as they had to move to increasingly reduced circumstances in Bath they wouldn't have had their rooms painted. 

It is known that Austen wasn't keen on the 'white glare' of Bath and relieved to leave it, but of course it gave her the creative inspiration for two of her finest novels Northanger Abbey and the wonderful Persuasion.  Worsley is good at identifying possible building and characters that Austen utilised in her novels and it would never have occurred to me that one of her own brothers may have been the model for the awful Mr Dashwood in Sense and Sensibility!

I cannot agree with Worsley that Sense and Sensibility is the least favourite Austen novel with modern readers or that Elinor Dashwood 'is a bit dull'   In fact, she possesses a rather dry humour of her own particularly when she teases the romantic Marianne for her passion for dead leaves. That said, Worsley is clearly a fan and her passion for Austen comes through in this book.  I'm so glad she takes Charlotte Bronte to task for her famous critical comments about Pride and Prejudice.  Worsley rightly points out that Austen paved the way for subsequent women novelists.

Highly recommended if you like Jane Austen or if you are interested in the Georgians.  The cover has a simply beautiful eighteenth century textile design and a yellow spine.  They should do more books with yellow spines.


Shalet Jimmy said...

It's been long since I read a classic. But I badly wanted to read. But something is worrying me. Currently, I have Northanger Abbey...Maybe I should read that...Good blog..


Audrey said...

I can never read enough about our Jane, so I'm looking forward to this (it comes out here in July). I'm so glad you enjoyed it. But I don't think our cover is as nice as yours. It's fascinating about paint colors in old houses ... when I went to Mount Vernon (George Washington's house) I was surprised to see the dining room color was a very bright green.

Cath said...

This sounds like something I would enjoy as I quite enjoy Lucy Worsley's docs, although the constant dressing up can be a bit much. I love how much she loves reading though.

Karen K. said...

Ohhh another book about Jane Austen! It's too late to put it on my birthday wish list. . . if I get any birthday money or gift cards, I know what I'm buying next!

Nadia said...

I love books about authors and this book about Jane Austen sounds terrific. What a cover - I love it :) So glad you shared about this one - I'll have to add it to my TBR list. Cheers!!

Cosy Books said...

I adore Lucy so much that I own a pair of purple gloves, just to be like her. Well, as far as glove ownership goes. A friend is holding a copy of this book for me until I get to London - I can't wait! So glad you enjoyed it, Nicola.

Arti said...

Thanks for this good recommendation, Nicola! This July is the bicentenary of JA's death, and I'm preparing an Austen book to film adaptations post for Shiny New Books. They will have a whole month to celebrate. Will let you know when it's out. Keep up the good work at Vintage Reads! :)

Kat said...

Oh, I am so looking forward to reading this! It is just published in the U.S.

Anbolyn said...

I'm listening to this right now in my car and really enjoying it. I love discovering interesting little tidbits about her family and friends.

Vintage Reading said...

Shalet Jimmy, Hi, have you read the Northanger Abbey? Catherine is one of my favourite Austen heroines and she's a reader, too!

Audrey, yes interior colours in old houses are fascinating. Green is a very creative colour!

Cath, yes, I love Lucy but I think we've reached peak dressing up now!

Karen, I usually wait for the paperback but couldn't resist with this one!

Nadia, it's a worthy addition to the many words written about JA.

Cosy, purple gloves! I do like Lucy's style, those little cardi's and shift dresses, she carries them off so well.

Arti, will check out Shiny New Books, look forward to reading it!

Kat, you must read it, Lucy is brilliant on Austen.

Anbolyn, glad you are enjoying it!

Plexus said...

Great post tthanks