The only best-selling authors in Jane Austen’s league in the English language today are Shakespeare and Dickens. In the twenty-first century her boundless appeal continues to grow following the enormously successful TV and film adaptations of Mansfield Park, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, and of course, Sense and Sensibility.
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 dйcor 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.