My reading has slowed the last few weeks, as I’ve been putting more time towards writing and organising attendance to certain events (my WFA fund just tipped 48%!). But we all know a writer is nothing if they don’t read, so I want to pick it up again to meet my Goodreads target for the year, and thin out my precarious, tottering TBR pile! I also have a few beta-reads to get through for friends, eek!
So far, I’ve read three of Jane Austen’s novels, and watched numerous adaptations. I like her work very much; however, I came to this biography with very little knowledge about her life besides the broad strokes: homes in Hampshire and Bath; an early death.
‘Jane Austen at Home’ was a real eye-opener for me, as it went into unexpected detail about the buildings in which she’s known to have lived or visited, and the circumstances of her eventual publication and success. Lucy Worsley has combined quotes from Jane’s letters, recollections of her extended family, and census or accounting records to build a tangible picture of life in the Georgian era. Jane herself comes across at her best through her letters: acerbic yet accessible — a woman I would have dearly loved to meet!
Even someone with only a passing interest in Austen will find plenty of historical insights into late 17th-century life to keep them interested. For a hardcore ‘Janeite’, this book may cover too much old ground — I wouldn’t know — but I think it’s valuable nonetheless. It definitely set my resolve to finish my Austen collection and visit Chawton cottage as soon as possible.
‘Snowspelled’ seemed the perfect follow-on, set as it is in a magical Regency-esque ‘Angland’, complete with strict etiquette and social expectations. It does, however, feature elves, trolls, and an interesting bit of world-building which sets women at the top of the political pile, leaving magic to the domain of men.
Stephanie Burgis excels at the novella here. The pacing is perfectly suited to one or two reading sessions, and while the main conflict seemed slow to start, once it gets going it streamlines to tell the most compelling story possible. The romance is enjoyable, as is the promise of future instalments. . .
Overall, this worked well as a piece of escapism. It was a fun, quick read, and I look forward to the sequel next year! Thanks, Stephanie!