Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Becoming Jane Austen by Jon Spence ~ Book Review

In August, I joined the Austen in August reading challenge at Lost Generation Reader, committing myself to reading only books by or about Jane Austen and her works. I'd had this book, Becoming Jane Austen, in my possession for several years and hadn't mustered the courage yet to dive in. It wasn't that the book itself seemed uninteresting to me, it was just that I wasn't impressed with the film that came out of it, so it was hard to get excited about reading it. I'm so glad that I did, however---it is the perfect book for the Austenite who thinks she knows everything there is to know about Jane!

I've always believed that all writing is autobiographical in some way. In Becoming Jane Austen, author Jon Spence draws parallels between Jane Austen's real life and the characters and plot lines in her novels. Focusing mainly on her cousin Eliza, as well as rumored love interest, Tom LeFroy, Spence gives ample evidence that Austen's own relationships were woven deeply into her works---even to the point of leaving clues for others to find about themselves.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the Austen family "scandals" that influenced works like Love & Freindship (sic), as well as the many ways in which she brought her personal life into the stories; the connection of Pride and Prejudice---and everything that came after it---to Tom LeFroy, for example. I've read lots of commentaries claiming there was really nothing between her and Tom and that modern readers just want to find a love story where one seems to be lacking. However, I think this book makes an excellent case for there having been a romantic relationship there---even if just from Jane's perspective.

This is definitely no quick and easy read. If you're not a die hard biography person, hungry for any unknown morsel about Jane, you might want to skip this one. But, if you're like me and just can't get enough of Austen, Regency England, or how an author's personal life and relationships can affect every aspect of her writing, Becoming Jane Austen, is an excellent choice for your cold weather reading!


  1. I might have to read this during my winter...thanks for the review!

  2. It sounds very interesting! Thanks for sharing your perspective! Stopped by via Booknificent Thursday!

  3. Love Jane Auten, but not sure if I could find time to read this. I sure do love her movies! Thanks for sharing with SYC.