Jon Spence’s fascinating biography of Jane Austen paints an intimate portrait of the much-loved novelist. Spence’s meticulous research has, perhaps most notably, uncovered evidence that Austen and the charming young Irishman Tom Lefroy fell in love at the age of twenty and that the relationship inspired Pride and Prejudice, one of the most celebrated works of fiction ever written. Becoming Jane Austen gives the fullest account we have of the romance, which was more serious and more enduring than previously believed. Seeing this love story in the context of Jane Austen’s whole life enables us to appreciate the profound effect the relationship had on her art and on subsequent choices that she made in her life.
Full of insight and with an attentive eye for detail, Spence explores Jane Austen’s emotional attachments and the personal influences that shaped her as a novelist. His elegant narrative provides a point of entry into Jane Austen’s world as she herself perceived and experienced it. It is a world familiar to us from her novels, but in Becoming Jane Austen, Austen herself is the heroine.