Friday, February 18, 2011

Just Jane...A Novel of Jane Austen's Life by Nancy Moser

"Oh Mr. Darcy..."  

I believe Pride and Prejudice is the most famous of Jane Austen's novels.  Set in the English countryside, who cannot fall in love with the Bennett family as Mrs. Bennett desires to wed her young daughters to a better station in life?  And with such drama and flair, Mrs. Bennett is a character to watch.  One of my favorite lines said by Mrs. Bennett is this, ""Nobody can tell what I suffer! -- But it is always so. Those who do not complain are never pitied."  But it is her daughter, Elizabeth, and the young Mr. Darcy that captures one's attention.  It is about this character that Moser notes about Jane, "unable to find her own Mr. Darcy, she created him."  

Just Jane is a fictional autobiographical story of what Jane Austen's life could have been like based on family letters, historical writings and research.  Moser takes the reader back to the early 1800s, to the English countryside, to experience life as Jane Austen.  What was it like having grown up as a daughter of a clergyman?  Did she obtain ideas for her characters in her novels from life at home?  Is Mrs. Bennett similar to her mother?  an aunt?  a neighbor?  

Or how did Jane begin to write stories?  who read them?  

Did she fall in love?  find HER Mr. Darcy?  

Interestingly, Jane Austen writes about romance but truly never experiences the romance that she penned.  So her life story is not what you would expect....or it wasn't what I expected.  I have read all of the Austen novels and why did I think her life would be like her stories?  Just the opposite....her real life was full of disappointments, trials, and heartache.  Yet somehow she managed to create novels that have endured centuries, been made into movies many times over, and are studied as classics.  Yet...Moser captures her life in two simple words....Just Jane.  I would add "a real woman."

If you like anything about Jane Austen....her novels, her biography, any movie that has been made about would probably enjoy this book.  Nancy Moser has a way of writing that draws you into the time period....where you can almost taste, smell, and hear what is happening.  She does the same with the characters in the book...they have become your friends (or enemies) by the end.  

Go ahead, grab a cup of coffee, and pick up this book for a relaxing read.  Just be might not surface again until you have reached the end!

4.5 stars