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|A familiar type of house.
Written by Rachel G
(9/27/2012 1:30 p.m.)
in consequence of the missive, I noticed, penned by Stephanie
I almost suspect that Author Austen was showing us some location she knew.
I'm very sure that she was. There are many late 18th century houses of this size and general layout still occupied today in many parts of England, and very nice they are too.
I don't know how far down the social scale the habit of reading novels extended, but assume it included both people of gentry status and some of the "middling sort". For most of JA's readership the possession of a large country house with an estate and an income of £4,000 a year would have been beyond their wildest dreams, and I'd guess many might have lived in houses not unlike Barton Cottage
So Austen's description of Barton Cottage conjures a house with which most of her readers would have been very familiar and may have lived in themselves. The advantages of a recently built home of that size, with a nice tiled roof rather than thatch (which needs regular replacement, can harbour vermin and is a fire hazard) would have been obvious to all but the most romantically inclined and the lucky few who lived in much larger houses.
JA's contemporary readership would sympathise with the the feelings of the Dashwood ladies at the loss of their luxury lifestyle. But I believe that the majority would be aware from personal experience that it was perfectly possible for four people and a couple of servants to live genteelly and comfortably in a home such as Barton Cottage.
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