Sunday, February 07, 2010

Jane Austen: A Life (by Claire Tomalin)

This book caused me to jaunt over to my Amazon wish list and add three more books about Jane Austen. Not a perfect book ala an Antonia Fraser biography, because Tomalin makes a few too many assumptions, some of which seem like stretches of the imagination.

Also did not answer my burning question about Jane Austen, which is, how did she name her characters? (Perhaps, given how little we know of her, this is not known.) Jane Fairfax and Jane Bennet both (obviously) share her first name, and both are looked up to by the other characters in the book. She had two Fannys in her family, and in the books are Fanny Price (goody two-shoes) and Fanny Dashwood (evil). There is her cousin Eliza and Eliza Bennet, any connection? And then there's the fact that her beloved sister was named Cassandra, and she didn't name anyone Cassandra. It just makes me curious about the overlaps and omissions. Such a minor thing, but... I always wonder.

Um, that's really beside the point. Anyway, it's good, and I did learn a lot about Austen that I didn't know. I'm hoping to visit the Jane Austen sites in England this summer, so it's a good time to read up on her!



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