Posted by Jane Elizabeth on August 11, 1997 at 17:38:18:
In reply to The new Jane Austen biography posted by Mary Collette on August 09, 1997 at 13:19:33
I read it recently. I have not read other bios, and am not an Austen scholar, so take my opinion for what it's worth.
Myer's peculiar time structure was alternately interesting and confusing. Rather than follow Jane's life absolutely chronologically, she grouped the first chapters around themes. This was appealing in the way it followed a thread, but since the same people popped up again in the various threads it got confusing. Especially since the Austen clan had the vexing habit of duplicating and changing names! Myers was also unable to add color to the minutia of Jane's life, which was often rather tedious.
Somehow I never felt that Myers had a real love for Austen. She seemed to warm to the subject only when she reached the rather desperate part of Jane's life when she was really quite poor and becoming bitter. I did get a sense of how grim life could become for a woman who didn't marry and had no fortune. Emma's comment about single women's propensity for being poor, as well as her rebuke to Miss Bates, seem all the more cruel. Also, Jane's sympathy for and fondness of her nieces' governess illuminated Jane Fairfax's horror at ending up as one.
If anyone has read the older bios, please post a critique. I'd be interested to read one and compare.
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