Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
As an ardent admirer of the impeccable research and informative prose found in Kim Wilson’s previous works – Tea with Jane Austen and In the Garden with Jane Austen – I was beyond excited to see she has yet again published another comprehensive and artfully arranged tome about Jane Austen’s life and time. Instead of focusing on tea or gardens, Kim Wilson takes readers on a virtual tour of the many places Jane Austen lived and visited, and gives insight to what she saw, did, and experienced in all these places. With one hundred and twenty color images and one hundred and forty-four pages filled with a bevy of information readers can truly see the places and sights that encompassed Jane Austen’s world.
At Home with Jane Austen is divided into eleven chapters which cover the places Jane Austen lived, such as Steventon, Bath, Southampton, and Chawton; and places where Jane Austen visited and traveled to for brief periods of time, such as London, boarding school, Godmersham Park, Stoneleigh Abbey, Lyme, Worthing, and Winchester. Besides a well-researched write-up of Jane Austen’s experience and history in each locale, every chapter cites passages from Jane Auten’s works, letters exchanged between the Austen family, and stunning and lush large high-quality images that greatly enhance this edifying work of nonfiction. I loved how the chapters were segmented and arranged to proceed in a timeline that was concurrent with Jane Austen’s life, very well organized! I also greatly appreciated how all the images had captions nearby and being able to use the very extensive and helpful index located in the back of the book.
While I loved learning about where the Austen’s lived and traveled I think my favorite aspect of this book was seeing and understanding more of how they lived. What were their daily duties and routines, what were their social activities, what was their home life like in each place. I also loved seeing the comparison made between places Jane Austen visited and places she created in her works of fiction. It was interesting to suppose her inspiration for places like Mansfield Park, Sotherton Court, Barton Cottage, and Pemberley came from her travels across England.
A thoughtful, engaging, and superbly executed compilation! A must read for any Janeite who wants to share a visit with Jane Austen at home. I sincerely hope we will see more books of this nature from the talented pen of Kim Wilson (my fingers are crossed for something about music – maybe Music with Jane Austen?) Brava, Ms. Wilson! This one is another gem!
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*Image credits: Abbeville Press