"Jane Austen at Home offers a fascinating look at Jane Austen's world through the lens of the homes in which she lived and worked throughout her life. The result is a refreshingly unique perspective on Austen and her work and a beautifully nuanced exploration of gender, creativity, and domesticity."--Amanda Foreman, bestselling author of Georgianna, Duchess of Devonshire
Take a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses--both grand and small--of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a 'life without incident'.
Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows readers a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but--in the end--a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.
Illustrated with two sections of color plates, Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new book about one of the world’s favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.
This enthusiastic, though often slow-going, biography by Worsley (The Art of the English Murder) delivers a portrait of the novelist in her successive homes, pondering the differences that place makes to Austen's fiction. As a young girl in Steventon Rectory, for example, Austen became a consummate novel reader who dreamed of joining the cadre of popular female novelists of the time, such as Fanny Burney and Ann Radcliffe. In her years at Steventon, Austen wrote an early draft of the novel that later became Sense and Sensibility and she observed many of the details of domestic life that she would include in her novels. Living for a short time in straitened circumstances after her father's death, Austen, according to Worsley, refused to sink into misery but instead turned her situation into art. When she moved into Chawton Cottage, Austen completed Mansfield Park, a novel that disparages the idea that an individual's birthplace is more important than "life experience or talent." In her final novel, Persuasion, Austen opens with the loss of a home and a period of rootlessness, and ends with the protagonist's finding a permanent home, brings this thematic preoccupation of hers full circle. Worsley's careful research delivers no dramatic new revelations about Austen's life or writing, but Janeites will flock to the book nevertheless for its fresh perspective on their idol.