Jane Austen: A Life Revealed
Jane Austen: A Life Revealed
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Annotation: Biography of Jane Austen for students that provides an overview of her personal life, writings, and influence on world literature.
Genre: Biographies
Catalog Number: #600015394
Format: Ebook
All Formats: Search
Special Formats: Graphic Novel Graphic Novel Manga Manga Ebook Ebook Downloadable Downloadable
Common Core/STEAM: Common Core Common Core
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2011
Edition Date: 2011
Pages: 1 PDF file (192 pages)
Territory: North America
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-547-57414-2
ISBN 13: 978-0-547-57414-1
Dewey: 921
Language: English
Horn Book
Reef combines firsthand accounts of Austen written by relatives and friends, information about late-1700s Britain, and Austen's own novels and surviving letters, highlighting the connections between Austen's works and her life. For devout Janeites it's fascinating to see all this information combined, and for others it's a worthwhile introduction. A family tree, notes, and a list of Austen's works are appended. Bib., ind.
Kirkus Reviews
It is either daring or foolish—or both—to use the subtitle, "A Life Revealed," when the biographer states that little is known about the biographee. It is true that much is known about Jane Austen's novels now, thanks to films, adaptations and television specials, "[b]ut very little is known about the woman herself." Of the thousands of letters she wrote, only 139 survive, the rest destroyed for reasons unknown. She was a writer but left no diaries. What is a biographer to do to fill in the many, many lacunae? Provide whatever information is available about cousins, uncles, aunts, brothers, father, mother, nephews—all of which can become confusing without a Venn diagram. Then...give plot summations of Austen's novels. Those who have read the books or seen the films—the book's likely audience—may not need these book reports, which take up a sizable portion of the biography. Reef's histories of Austen's travels and her observations of Georgian society and its movements nicely delineate the settings and people her subject used as material, and Austen's sometimes acerbic comments about her characters help enliven the explications of the novels. Illustrations are mostly from movies and early-20th-century editions as well as portraits. Perhaps this work will lead readers to Jane Austen and imaginatively apply the facts of the author's life to the novels—or vice-versa. (afterword, family trees, notes, selected bibliography, index) (Biography. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up&12; Reef beefs up what little is known about Austen's life by blending in social history and substantial descriptions of her novels. While the author's writing style is clear and unaffected, the book lacks organization. The text jumps from topic to topic, sometimes within the same paragraph, all without the benefit of headings and subheadings. For example, Jane and Cassandra's friendship with Martha and Mary Lloyd, Mary's attack of smallpox, smallpox statistics in general, symptoms, the side effects that Mary experienced, and the Lloyds' relationship to the Fowles family are covered in that order in three paragraphs. Reef includes extensive source notes and a selected bibliography. Still, there is at least one major factual error. Early in the book, Reef writes, "No one knows Jane Austen's views on religion&30;." In truth, there are dozens of references to Austen's strong Christian beliefs in letters she wrote and in things that other people wrote about her. Also, she wrote at least three long, characteristically eloquent prayers. Flashes of bias show up, too. When Reef describes a time when Austen learned the news that she had to move from her home, she writes, "Anyone would assume that Jane wrote to Cassandra right away&30;." Later, Reef refers to Austen's assessment of a sick niece as "cold-hearted." Occasional black-and-white illustrations are lackluster. Consider Juliane Locke's England's Jane: The Story of Jane Austen (Morgan Reynolds, 2005) instead.&12; Jennifer Prince, Buncombe County Public Library, NC
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Veteran nonfiction writer Reef, whose E. E. Cummings: A Poet's Life (2006) and Ernest Hemingway: A Writer's Life (2009) both received starred reviews in Booklist, contributes another encompassing, neatly synthesized introduction to a famous writer. Jane Austen is a particularly challenging subject, since many of her letters were burned after her death, and she left behind no diaries. It's even unclear what she looked like; no portraits exist, except a "poor likeness" painted by her sister. Pulling from wide-ranging research, Reef gamely mines the available resources and pieces together contradictory views of the writer, from a "sweet, forgiving creature" to a wickedly funny, unsparing observer of human behavior: "For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbors, and laugh at them in our turn." Along with extensive details of Austen's family, with whom the unmarried author lived her entire life, Reef deftly sets the biographical facts onto a larger cultural and historical canvas that will give readers a much deeper understanding of Austen's novels, and well-chosen images, from period paintings and photos to contemporary film stills, add even more context. Closing with a long bibliography and source notes for direct quotes, this is an obvious choice for student research, but Austen's enduring popularity and the never-ending stream of fiction inspired by her work om pink-covered chick lit to zombie-filled horror ll draw pleasure readers, too.
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Starred Review ALA Booklist
Horn Book
Kirkus Reviews
School Library Journal
Bibliography Index/Note: Includes bibliographical references (pages 173-177) and index.
Word Count: 29,477
Reading Level: 7.8
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 7.8 / points: 5.0 / quiz: 144034 / grade: Middle Grades+
Reading Counts!: reading level:10.3 / points:9.0 / quiz:Q57943
Lexile: 1090L

Jane Austen’s popularity never seems to fade. She has hordes of devoted fans, and there have been numerous adaptations of her life and work. But who was Jane Austen? The writer herself has long remained a mystery. And despite the resonance her work continues to have for teens, there has never been a young adult trade biography on Austen. 

Catherine Reef changes that with this highly readable account. She takes an intimate peek at Austen’s life and innermost feelings, interweaving her narrative with well-crafted digests of each of Austen’s published novels. The end result is a book that is almost as much fun to read as Jane’s own work—and truly a life revealed. Includes bibliography and index.


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