Book Review: Jane Austen – A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

I’ve made it known that I’m quite inexperienced when it comes to Jane Austen. The only Austen novel that I have completed (and thankfully, enjoyed!) is Pride and Prejudice.

I first noticed this particular book because of its cover (simple, yet pretty) and then realised it was a biography of Jane Austen written for young people (12+). Even though I’m not that young (hey, early 20s isn’t old!), I figured it’d be a good opportunity to learn more about Austen and the context she was writing in. The book promised a “highly readable account” of Austen’s life as well as summaries of her novels.

It is very simply and conversationally written (similar to a textbook or children’s documentary) and so I can understand why the recommended age is so young, and would be readable to those even younger. It only took a couple of hours to read. However, it was enjoyable and informative: I didn’t know about her unfinished novel Sanditon, or that Jane’s deaf and mute brother George was made to live with the neighbours, or that Jane nearly died as a child due to illness. The illustrations, paintings and family tree also added a nice touch.

While I think “almost as much fun to read as Jane’s own work” is stretching the truth a little, it makes a lovely introduction to Austen for young people who may be intimidated by “classics” like I was at that age.

This book was obtained as an eGalley from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.

My Rating: ★★★

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