Jane Austen's six novels have been read, talked about and turned into plays, movies, etc. And yet, while her work is celebrated worldwide, her life is often thought of as fairly unremarkable. Austen's own nephew helped to promote this view when he published a biography of her life (30 years after her death). Nancy Moser's new novel, Just Jane, gives readers a glimpse into what Austen's life might have truly been like.
Moser paints a colorful picture of Austen and her family. Born in 1775, Austen lived in a world where women were second-class citizens. They could not inherit and enjoyed very few of the privileges that women today do. Austen was not able to publish her books under her name and they were simply credited as "By a Lady." Yet, against all odds she did have her work published. She didn't live to see her final two books in print and yet her novels are still widely read today. Her writing has even spawned Jane Austen fans clubs around the world.
This bio-novel of Jane Austen's life is as close to her real story as possible. Moser has done her research and shares about her findings in a section at the back of the book. She explains that she used a combination of historical documents and writings, as well as letters that Austen herself penned while alive – mostly in correspondence to her sister, Cassandra.
Moser's novel shows a side of Jane Austen that most fans have never experienced. The story begins with a listing of when each Austen child was born – she was the seventh of eight children – and then begins the story when she is twenty, shortly after she has met Tom LeFroy, the love interest that has been admittedly "Hollywood-ized" in the movie, Becoming Jane.
Just Jane is a wonderful book for any Austen fan. It gives a glimpse of her as a real person – flaws and all.