Posted by Cyndie on March 24, 1998 at 15:14:45:
I have finshed Claire Tomalin's book (before discovering this site) and I have to say that I was excessively dissappointed with it. It is so full of her own hypotheses, speculations, and pschoanalysis that the facts become blurred in the mix. I found the book quite inferior to other Austen biographies; notably Park Honan's and Dierdre LeFaye's. I felt throughout that Ms. Tomalin could not possibly have read Jane Austen's letters thoroughly (though I know she must have), or she would never have speculated so freely on questions that, in my opinion, are answered quite clearly in the letters. Ms Tomlin, in my opinion, also displays a lack of knowledge considering the fine lines of distinction between classes that motivated Jane Austen in so many of her actions and were instrumental in forming her opinions and personality. The best of Ms. Tomlin's story occurs at the end...where she confesses that no one will ever know the true story of Jane Austen...a fact that she studiously ignores throughout the book.
I expect replies from people who disagree with my opinion, but I strongly suggest to readers who may be new to Austen biographies that they NOT start with Claire Tomlins inferior account. I implore you to start with "Jane Austen's Letters" compiled and edited by LeFaye. The new edition came out in Oxford Paperback in '97 (ISBN 0-19-283297-2) and is excellent! Let Jane Austen herself tell you her OWN story, and THEN read the biographies.
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