Tuesday, September 11, 2012

"101 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen" by Patrice Hannon

I picked this up on the bookstore's bargain shelves a couple months ago, thinking it would be basically a list of 101 random facts about Jane Austen, one to a page or something. I flipped through it a bit, saw it was more substantial than that, and figured for less than $10, I couldn't go wrong.

Turns out, this book is a little bit biography, a little bit literary analysis of Austen's works. The only purpose the 101 facts seem to serve is to break up the book into readable chunks, and they're not even presented as "facts," but more as topic headings. Here's a sampling:
5. A family member meets the guillotine
25. Arrested for shoplifting!
59. Why are there so many clergymen in Jane's Austen's novels?
As you can see, this book covers a wide variety of material, and in only 230 pages. For the casual fan of Austen, like me, it's a great way to learn more about the author and her books. Those who are avid Austenites would probably also enjoy it, particularly if they want to know more about the author herself, but don't have time for a lengthy biography. I enjoyed the bits of literary analysis the most, undoubtedly because I minored in English and still love delving deeper into books than what an initial reading gives you.

101 Things You Didn't Know About Jane Austen: The Truth About the World's Most Intriguing Literary Heroine is a fairly easy read, and enjoyable even if you haven't read all her novels yet (like I haven't). It's not engrossing, however, and it took me over a month to read it because I kept getting sidetracked by other books. But because it's broken up into 101 little chunks, it's perfect for picking up whenever you have a few minutes.

(Originally posted on The Huggermugger Blog on Nov. 16, 2009.)

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