Book Recommendations – What Matters in Jane Austen?

What Matters in Jane Austen?What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Book Description from Goodreads:

Is there any sex in Austen? What do the characters call each other, and why? What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? And which important Austen characters never speak? In What Matters in Jane Austen?, John Mullan shows that you can best appreciate Jane Austen’s brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction – by asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals their devilish cleverness.

In twenty-one short chapters, each of which answers a question prompted by Jane Austen’s novels, Mullan illuminates the themes that matter most to the workings of the fiction. So the reader will discover when people had their meals and what shops they went to, how they addressed each other, who was allowed to write letters to whom, who owned coaches or pianos, how vicars got good livings and how wealth was inherited. What Matters in Jane Austen? explores the rituals and conventions of her fictional world in order to reveal her technical virtuosity and sheer daring as a novelist. Though not a book about Jane Austen’s life, it uses biographical detail and telling passages from her letters to explain episodes in her novels; readers will find out, for example, what novels she read or how much money she had to live on or what she saw at the theatre.

Inspired by an enthusiastic reader’s curiosity, written with flair and based on a lifetime’s study, What Matters in Jane Austen? will appeal to all those who love and enjoy Jane Austen’s work.

I recieved an ebook ARC from Netgalley.

If you have ever asked yourself any of the questions asked above or any of the other questions posed in What Matters in Jane Austen? than this book has your answers. I liked this book, but I don’t see it being a top book for all Jane Austen fans. Some of the articles can get a bit scholarly which can turn off some casual Austen readers. This book is more for the reader who has found fault in the movie adaptations, has questioned character behavior, and wondered just why this or that has happened in the book. There is quite a bit you miss out on in reading her novels if you don’t have the right frame for reference. This book provides that frame and allows the reader to have a better undertanding of some of the subtle jab/wittisims Jane used in her work.

Each question is it’s own chapter, and you can skip around and read the ones that interest you most. It’s a great book to have on hand for those intense Jane Austen discussions. Some of the answers tend to get a bit long winded (in my opinion) and they lost me after the initial explanation of the answer. Besides that I throughly enjoyed the book and plan and purchasing it for myself.

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