Friday, May 6, 2011

Review: Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

My students took their AP English Literature and Composition exam on Thursday, and from the sound of it, they all seemed to feel pretty good about the test.  Although I was anxious, and always feel like I could have done so much more to help them prepare, it wasn't as nerve-wracking as normal.  All I can say is--whew!  I now feel a huge weight lift off of my shoulders.  Maybe I'll pick up a bit more reading?

Recently I finished an interesting little information book about Jane Austen, called Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef.  It was short and sweet, and pretty fun to read!

Synopsis:  In this short informational book, we learn more about the life and history surrounding the famous author Jane Austen.  Included are short synopses of each of the books she wrote, at the time she wrote them.  Altogether, the information gives the reader a good overview of Austen and her influences.

Review:  Although short and simple in its information, this little book seems like a nice source for basic background on one of our most famous authors, Jane Austen.  Since many of her letters were destroyed after her death, she didn't seem to keep a journal, and died much too soon to really write a self-penned autobiography, we're left with secondhand accounts, biographies, and recollections.  Reef gives some nice background history about the period to add to her novels.   For instance, we learn that Austen was pushed to write a dedication to the Prince Regent, George III in her novel Emma.  She wasn't a real fan of the King and her publisher had to help her out with a nice sounding dedication. 

For the casual fan of Jane Austen, this is the perfect, short read.  It isn't too weighty, nor does it list off names and dates at random; the piece feels like a nice history that one can sit down and read through like a story.  I'll admit to thinking that summaries of each novel a little unnecessary, but I'm thinking it was for the benefit of readers who might not have read her work.  My guess is that this is the perfect resource for a first time reader of Austen's work or history, and would be ideal for students who need some basic information.  I still liked this brief little read.

*FTC Disclosure:  Review was based on a copy of the book provided through the Amazon Vine Program. 


  1. Reef has also written a biography about Ernest Hemingway. All you've said about the Austen bio applies here, too... I really enjoyed it!

  2. Jane Austen class in 2012? ;)

  3. JoAnn--That's interesting to know that she has written other bios as well! Thanks for letting me know.

    Heidenkind--LOL. I don't know if I would get a big enough HS crowd for that one!

  4. I'm going to have to give this one a try-it sounds really interesting. I'd love to know more about her life.