Reading this, I felt like I had travelled back in time to when I first read and loved Austen in high school. The writing is so similar in style – Lucy Worsley has really captured the essence of Austen and what her stories were all about. The charm of the characters jumps off the page as the reader is carried away into their hopes, dreams and distresses. There is even a dashing, somewhat rude aristocrat to set the tone.
In this book, Jane Austen’s nieces, Anna & Fanny, are just entering 19th century English society in their first season and are feeling the pressure to become engaged. Family and societal values come into play as they are told to “set the pace for the rest of the family”, “marry for money and status” and “be taken off their father’s hands”. A member of the clergy just isn’t right even if he might be the kindest, most suitable match. The girls wrestle with questions about what they really want and if living up to what is expected of them is the most important thing.
A twist in the story requires them to become the heroines of their own stories and step out with courage to become the women they were truly meant to be. Following their aunt’s advice, Fanny and Anna choose what is truly right for them and find they are able to make a difference in society themselves. The girls are empowered and find that there is so much more to life than what is expected of them.
This book is fantastic for anyone who loves Austen or wants to introduce their children to the charm of this time and style. It is an empowering story of being true to yourself and standing up for what you believe is right. The character of Jane is a wonderful guide through the challenges of life and shows exactly what strength of character inspired her legendary books.
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