Narrated By: Louise Hulland
Duration: 11 hours
What to expect
Since her death , people have got Jane Austen wrong. The real Jane – revealed for the first time in this landmark biography – was a less cosy, more spiky, more modern figure than she is usually imagined to be. Far from retelling a familiar story, Byrne’s book uses new research and new techniques to give us Jane Austen for the 21st century.
Paula Byrne – an internationally renowned Jane Austen scholar and a best-selling biographer – has uncovered a very different Jane Austen to the Jane of popular imagination.
This Jane is a woman deeply immersed in the culture around her, but also far ahead of her time in her independence and tough-mindedness.. Throughout, this audio-book gives the sense of Austen as an astute commentator on human nature in general and her own age in particular, and above all as a writer of independence and ambition.
Each chapter is focussed on a key moment in Austen’s life: eg. when her handicapped brother is removed from the family, when her exotic cousin Eliza arrives in the family circle, when her aunt was arrested for shoplifting, her time alone in London. The book also gives detailed attention to the novels themselves.
After this book, no longer can Austen be viewed as someone who did not engage with the great political events of her time. How many lovers of her work are aware that the Prince Regent kept a debauched household down the road from her village, that she was related by marriage to other major literary figures of the time such as the libertine Gothic novelist William Beckford and her favourite poet George Crabbe. The book will also identify her long lost seaside love as well as argue that her assumed ‘genteel’ sense of humour could also be savage, highly subversive irony.
Biography, Literature & Literary studies, Biography: literary
Listen to a sample
‘Brilliantly illuminating … Its great merit is … by focusing on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allow us to grasp the richness of Austen's inner life’ Guardian
‘Perceptive and energetic’ Sunday Telegraph
‘Byrne's essays add up to a fine appraisal of the novelist's environment, truly Austenish in the way they burrow into a sequestered and often secretive private world’ Observer
‘A neat approach to biography, allowing Byrne to burrow deep beneath the surface of Austen’s existence. The result is a delightful and engrossing portrait’ Sunday Times
‘A perceptive and energetic guide to Austen and her surroundings … Byrne’s critical study consists of a series of beautifully written, interrelated essays … [her] style gives fresh charms to her subject matter. ‘The Real Jane Austen’ is bold, fast-moving and accessible’ Daily Telegraph
‘Engaging, compelling, a delightful and engrossing book. Of course we all know that the "real" Jane Austen will forever be a mystery, but most 21st century Janeites will adore this one. Byrne's passion is nothing if not persuasive’ Sunday Times
‘What is fresh in Byrne's biographical approach is her use of a succession of contemporary objects that Austen owned, or that might be seen in intimate connection with her interests … this adds an attractive immediacy to a well-known story … Byrne's affectionate study paints a pleasingly lively picture of Austen's life’ Independent
‘Brilliantly illuminating … riveting. By focusing, chapter by chapter, on one thread or another of Austen's experience, Byrne allows us to grasp the richness of her inner life’ Simon Callow, Guardian
‘The portrait of Austen that emerges is sparklingly multi-faceted, catching the light in intriguing ways … her Jane is far less likely to go for a quiet walk in the garden than she is to be whisked into town in search of a velvet cushion, a necklace or a smart new dress’ Irish Mail on Sunday