Peter Leithart brings forth a dossier on the life of Jane Austen, a beloved author highly thought to be Christian, but reading through, I found it a little bit unsettling being taught by her father, a clergyman that religion was a priority, she found it out of her character to allude to any kind of proselytizing in her writings. In my humble opinion, the desire to proselytize happens to be a given especially when one is being sold as a Christian (This book happens to be sold as a “Christian Encounters” Series). Although it’s undeniable she exudes religiosity having a recurring theme of charity, something the author herself valued as referenced in this book, and her indignation on the evils of pride, prejudice in regards to social status and hypocrisy reflected in her works.
Theologian G.K. Chesterton says of Austen, “she could coolly and sensibly describe a man” and expectedly so having lived in a male dominated household with 6 male siblings and Cassandra, her only sister and closest confidant, whose real life “reserved and austere” character happens to resemble that of Jane Bennet Bingley, the older sister in one of her bestsellers “Pride & Prejudice” and herself resembling the wit and character of Elizabeth Bennet. The irony however is for someone who wrote about what to expect in love, she ended up a spinster. Maybe she was governed way too much by her ideals?
As I read more about Jane, it appears her writings were seeming eyewitness accounts of her own and her relatives’ experiences cloaked in fiction from the influence of her father’s ministry (reflecting clergymen characters), her brothers’ naval military occupation, the disdain she had for marriage of convenience, the unfortunate compulsory reliance on people’s kindnesses after a devastating death of a family member etc. In essence, she was true to herself, unpretentious and wrote about what she knew best. Hence a lot of her readers can relate. Afterall, she wrote about the ongoing social affairs during her time, and not without application even to this day that her works are treasured as classics carrying on even centuries and beyond.
This was a good read for me but I’m sure my sister would enjoy this book more than I find it as she is a hard core Jane Austen fan.
[This is my unadulterated review for a complimentary copy I received from booksneeze.com]