Even if you were only a girl, words made you mighty.
(from Young Jane Austen, page 79)
Quick summary: Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer is a unique biography of Jane Austen in that it focuses on her early years, from birth until she first picks up her pen. There is very little information available about Jane as a young girl, but Lisa Pliscou takes what little history there is and what is known about where she lived and when she lived and creates a beautiful portrait of “Jenny,” her relationship with her family, and the love for reading and words that would one day inspire her to become a novelist.
Why I wanted to read it: I was intrigued by the focus on Jane as a young girl, especially since I’ve read much of her juvenilia, and the cover is gorgeous.
What I liked: I loved the presentation, with illustrations by Massimo Mongiardo that are simple yet beautiful and transport readers back to Jane’s time. Like the cover, the interior is styled to look like an old book. The first half of the book is the illustrated biography, written in the style of a novel from the point of view of a growing child as she navigates her world. The latter half of the book features annotations that explain the inspiration for each little section of the biography. This structure is brilliant because it allows readers to get lost in the charming story of young Jane, nicknamed Jenny, and then delve into the history and analysis.
What I disliked: Absolutely nothing!
Final thoughts: In the introduction, Pliscou calls Young Jane Austen a “speculative biography” that straddles the line between fiction and nonfiction simply because of the lack of details about Jane’s early years. However, it is obvious that Pliscou spent a great deal of time combing through various sources about the Austen family, Jane’s correspondence, the scientific study of creativity, the history of the era in which Jane lived, and Jane’s later writings, enabling her to plug in the gaps in young Jane’s story. Pliscou takes a handful of facts about Jane Austen and makes Jenny come to life. Young Jane Austen is a must-have for any Austen fan’s collection and another contender for my “Best of 2015” list.
Disclosure: I received Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer from the author for review.
© 2015 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.