Bestselling novelist with an enormous critical reputation takes on one of the most popular and enduring English novelists of all.The prizewinning novelist Carol Shields, whose novels have themselves been compared to the works of Jane Austen, gives us a beautifully written, perceptive look at the life of one of the finest and most popular English novelists of all time.Jane Austen spent the first 25 years of her life in Steventon and the last eight in nearby Chawton, and did most of her writing in these two places. She never married although many of her novels are about marriage, and always lived with her parents and sister Cassandra. Whilst not unaware of the larger political and social goings-on at the time, she chose a small canvas for her novels, preferring to focus on the family as a microcosm through which to explore human nature.Carol Shields has written a wonderfully observant and revealing biography of this remarkable writer whose characters are as alive today as they were two hundred years ago, when Jane Austen first gave them breath.'An excellent biography' Mail on Sunday
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It's a perennial source of frustration to Jane Austen's admirers that so little is known about her quiet existence as an unmarried woman seeking an outlet for her ferocious intelligence in genteel, rural England at the turn of the 19th century. Carol Shields, who won a Pulitzer Prize in 1995 for The Stone Diaries, has already proved herself a writer who can convey large truths with an economical amount of material, which makes her an excellent choice as Austen's biographer. Shields's brief but cogent text makes persuasive connections between Austen's novels and her life (the plethora of unsatisfactory mothers, for example, and the obvious sympathy for women barred from marriage by poverty and from careers by social custom), but she never forgets that fiction expresses first and foremost an artist's response to the world around her, not actual personal history. In fact, Shields argues, it may well have been Austen's sense that the novels she loved to read didn't provide a very accurate picture of the society she knew that fired her own work. Her merciless portraits of the economic underpinnings of marriage and family relations are in many ways more "realistic" than male writers' dramas of battle or females' fantasies of romantic bliss. As for her life's lack of incident, its one major disruption--her parents' move to Bath--prompted a nine-year silence from their formerly prolific daughter. Shields gleans as much as she can from Austen's letters, while remembering that they too gave voice to a persona, not the whole truth, in order to delineate a quirky, sometimes cranky, sometimes catty woman who was by no means the perfect maiden lady her surviving relatives sought to immortalize. An Austen biography will never be as much fun as an Austen novel, but Shields does a remarkably entertaining job of discerning the links between the two. --Wendy SmithAbout the Author:
Carol Shields was born and brought up in Chicago, and has lived in Canada since 1957. She is the Chancellor of the University of Winnipeg.
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Book Description Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2001. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0297646192