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Jane Austen: A Companion by Josephine Ross
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Jane Austen: A Companion

by Josephine Ross

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Fun and enlightening; answered many questions and satisfied a Jane-addict geek. ( )
  Pamici | Sep 6, 2013 |
This book is a Companion in the sense that it attempts to give the reader context for reading Austen's work, not in the sense of a reference work listing all her characters, etc. It is perfect for anyone beginning to read Austen's works, especially if they have little knowledge of the era. It would also be helpful as a basic guide to the late Georgian period, which is the setting of so many historical and romance novels.

Ross starts off with a brief (44 page) biography, followed by 8 chapters on the era: "The Common Daily Routine", "Of Lovers and Husbands", "Politics and Public Events", etc. In each, Ross discusses the era in general terms, and also relates the topic to Austen's life and writings. I read the book straight through, but it appears that each chapter could stand on its own: information is sometimes repeated if it relates to more than one topic. Lydia Bennett's finding ornaments in a book store is mentioned in both "The Present Fashions" and "The Subject of Books."

There are numerous plates of well-chosen pictures relating to both Jane Austen's personal life and the era in general.

There are no notes, but there is a helpful, but admittedly not exhaustive bibliography and an unusually detailed index. This index isn't perfect, it only lists one of the references to Lydia mentioned above, but it is much more thorough and in depth than most indexes, and helpfully has little notes after some of the entries that may be enough in themselves to refresh the reader's memory. ( )
  juglicerr | Jun 11, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0813539544, Paperback)

This illuminating, entertaining, up-to-date companion is the only general guide to Jane Austen, her work, and her world. Josephine Ross explores the literary scene during the time Austen's works first appeared: the books considered classics then, the "horrid novels" and romances, and the grasping publishers. She looks at the architecture and decor of Austen's era that made up "the profusion and elegance of modern taste": Regency houses for instance, Chippendale furniture, "picturesque scenery." On the smaller scale she answers questions that may baffle modern readers of Austen's work. What, for example, was "hartshorn"? How did Lizzy Bennet "let down" her gown to hide her muddy petticoat? Ross shows us the fashions, and the subtle ways Jane Austen used clothes to express character. Courtship, marriage, adultery, class and "rank," mundane tasks of ordinary life, all appear, as does the wider political and military world--especially the navy, in which her brothers served.

This book will add depth to all readers' enjoyment of Jane Austen, whether confirmed addicts or newcomers wanting to know what all the fuss is about.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:09:35 -0400)

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