Posted by Linda on April 15, 1998 at 15:35:54:
In response to Agreement, written by Myretta on April 15, 1998 at 11:00:24
](snip) I enjoyed it because it gave a narrative form to the meagre facts and illuminated the environment in which Jane Austen lived. I have probably not learned more about Jane Austen from reading this biography, but it has provided a coherent skeleton of her life onto which I can hang whatever else I can glean from her letters and writing.
Because I was frequently out of sync with the reading schedule, I was unable to participate, but I do have some opinions.
I, too, enjoyed the narrative that made the book so much more readable than just the relating of facts.
This is my first bio and neither have I yet read the letters, so I learned a great deal about the life of my favorite author; uneventful though it may have been.
I agree that Tomalin did not give her opinions as facts. But, her opinions about the novels were so much at odds with my own, that I found myself quite wary of many of her conclusions. For example, her description of JA's feelings after the marriage proposal.
Chapter 17, page 180
...Seven years before, she had danced here at Manydown with all the elan of her love for Tom Lefroy; she had sat out with him, joked with him, done everything that was profligate and shocking, believed he cared for her and known she cared for him. She had let the world see it, not minding if she were talked about. It was even possible that Harris had kept a vision of Jane as she had been then, dancing so recklessly and happily. She had only to compare the emotions of that night with this one to realize what a gulf lay between real happiness and delusive dreams. The night went by, and Jane stayed awake, like heroine in a novel who cannot sleep because too many emotions are pressing in on her: "the sleepless couch, which is the true heroine's portion ... a pillow strewed with thorns and wet with tears," as she had written mockingly herslf. She thought and thought; and in the morning she packed her bag, dressed herself grimly, and sought someone - Alethea perhaps - who would find Harris. Again they were closeted alone in the library or the small drawing room, and this time Jane explained, with all the delicacy in her power, that she had made a mistake and could not after all marry him. She esteemed him, she was honoured by his proposal, but on thinking it over she realized that esteem and respect were not enough, and that she would not be behaving fairly or rightly towards him if she accepted the offer of his hand.
I found the satements that I have emphasized as a little too speculative. I found myself saying; "not necessarily". Granted, I know, and have read, very little about JA except her novels and fragments. But, nothing that I have read has made me feel that these would have been her feelings. There are a number of other instances throughout the book that made the same impression.
But all in all, I really did enjoy this read. I enjoyed reading your opinions and I am very sorry that I was unable to be an active participant.
- Final (only?) thoughts... Tracy Y 20:18:19 4/16/98 (3)
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