Review of ‘Jane Austen at Home: A Biography’ by Lucy Worsley

This is a fantastic book about one of the world’s best loved authors – Jane Austen! In the company of historian, TV presenter and curator Lucy Worsley, herself an ‘Austenite’, the world of Jane is brought to life. I found it a fascinating read. Although it’s over 400 pages long, I didn’t get bored at all (somewhat unusual for a book of this length) and this is because of Worsley’s engaging style. Her writing is lively and amusing, like that of her literary heroine.

Jane Austen is not my favourite author. I’ve read her novels and have a particular liking for Emma, but I used to think that the author was perhaps a little over-hyped. However, this book has changed my opinion and made me realise that she was an innovator with a brilliant mind. Many obstacles were in her way, but she achieved success with some truly remarkable novels. Her stories and characters continue to influence popular culture. She’s even on the British ten pound note. This biography made me want to read her novels again.

This is a straightforward biography which follows Jane Austen’s life. It includes background on her family and friends, the historical and social contexts of the times, her possible romances and her writing process. There’s a special focus on the importance of home, as Jane had to move several times, usually as a result of (to put it bluntly) men inheriting property. I think that Lucy Worsley being a historian lends an excellent sense of detail and atmosphere to the book, more than perhaps you’d find if a literature scholar had written it. Two sections of illustrations are also included.

First published in 2017, Jane Austen at Home is one of the best writer biographies I’ve read.

 

14 thoughts on “Review of ‘Jane Austen at Home: A Biography’ by Lucy Worsley”

  1. I tend to also be in the camp of finding Austen over-hyped…or at least, maybe better put, I am puzzled by how much people love her books. I read them, recall finding them ok, but largely they were forgettable for me. Part of me thinks, hey why not reread and try to understand this cultural phenomenon better, but another part of me thinks there are just other things and styles and subjects out there that I would find more engaging. I would probably find this more interesting than the novels, I do like a good lady writer bio.

    1. I admit I’m also puzzled at how Jane Austen can be anyone’s favourite author and I wonder how much TV/film versions play a part when P&P is voted as one of the public’s favourite novels, for example. But the fact that her writing is still popular today, and not that of many other writers of her time, suggests there is a lot of enjoyment to be had from reading her books. Lucy Worsley’s bio is worth reading even if you’re not a great Austen fan!
      Thanks for your comment Nikki 🙂

  2. Ooooh, I’m dying to read this! I’ve had it sitting on my shelves since summer 2017, so I hope to get to it soon. I got her new biography on Queen Victoria for Christmas, will you be checking that one out too?

    Great review! 🙂

    1. I’m sure you will love this book! I will probably read her Victoria one in paperback.
      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  3. I was delighted to come across this review, as I am considering exploring more of Austen’s works. I was named after Emma, and have read this and Pride and Prejudice but nothing else. I might get my hands on this biography before I embark!

    1. Thank you – I really recommend this book, it’s helped me to appreciate Austen more. Apparently Sense & Sensibility is not so popular now, but back in the day it was successful because it was similar to what readers were used to, while P & P was controversial because they weren’t keen on Lizzie.

    1. Agreed! The best book about Jane Austen I’ve read. Definitely want to read her Victoria book. I’ve read a bio of Victoria before but I have a feeling that Lucy’s one will be more interesting!

  4. I’m not a fan of Jane Austen’s work (mostly because I’ve never bothered to read any of her books) but I do enjoy a biography and Lucy Worsley is one of my faves, so I’d be really interested in reading this! Also the one that she did about Queen Victoria (I think it’s for kids but still looks good) ?

    1. I think you’d like this book and it might help you to understand a Jane Austen book better if you decided to read one! The Victoria one I think is for adults, but she’s probably done books for kids too. She’s a fab author 🙂

  5. This book sounds really good, I love Pride & Prejudice a lot. I have tried to read her other novels but I just can’t ever seem to get into them as much as P&P but a book about her life still sounds interesting.

    1. I’m sure you’d like this book if you want to know more about Austen and the times she lived in, it’s ideal even if you haven’t read her books 🙂

  6. Thanks for sharing! Lucy Worsley is a fantastic storyteller, I’ve seen her in a few documentaries before. I love Jane Austen and will definitely give this biography a read! Her life is so fascinating 🙂

    1. Thank you – I’m glad you liked the review. Absolutely recommend this book and I want to read Lucy’s others 🙂

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