Becoming Jane Austen shows how Jane Austen's own personal experiences resonated throughout her work, from her juvenilia to Sanditon. Two people, above all, affected her life and caught her imagination. The first was her flirtatious and exotic cousin, Eliza de Feullide, married to a French count who was later guillotined. The second was the young Irish lawyer, Tom Lefroy, with whom Jane fell in love and whom she hoped to marry. Jon Spence traces the deep emotional impact that her encounters with Eliza and Tom had on her, and shows how she worked this out in her life and in her work, including in her major novels.
Amanda Grange continues her series of much-loved Jane Austen retellings with "Captain Wentworth's Diary". It is 1806, and the Napoleonic wars are ravaging Europe. Frederick Wentworth, a brilliant young man with a flourishing career in the navy, is spending his shore leave in Somerset, where he meets and falls in love with Anne Elliot. The two become engaged, but Anne's godmother persuades Anne to change her mind, leaving Wentworth to go back to sea a bitter and disappointed man. Eight years pass, and peace is declared. Wentworth is no longer a young man with his way to make in the world, but a seasoned captain with a fortune at his disposal. He is ready to marry anyone with a little beauty who pays a few compliments to the navy - or so he says - until he sees Anne. Anne's bloom has faded, yet she has the same sensibilities and superior mind she had eight years earlier, and before he knows it, he is falling in love with her all over again. Can there be a happy outcome for them this time around, or have they lost their chance of love forever?
Jane Austen's letters afford a unique insight into the daily life of the novelist: intimate and gossipy, observant and informative, they bring alive her family and friends, her surroundings and contemporary events with a freshness unparalleled in modern biographies. We recognize the unmistakable voice of the author of 'Pride and Prejudice, ' witty and amusing as she describes the social life of town and country, thoughtful and constructive when writing about the business of literary composition.