Monday, January 11, 2021

3. Jane Austen's Best Friend

Jane Austen's Best Friend: The Life and Influence of Martha Lloyd. Zoe Wheddon. 2021. Pen and Sword. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It is also a truth universally acknowledged that a woman in possession of a great talent must be in want of a brilliant best friend and Jane Austen was no exception. She may even have appreciated that friend more than we will ever know. That is to say she enjoyed the delights of having someone in her life who would become one of her closest and dearest, nay even beloved people, but was not bound to her by the calls of family duty or a father’s will.

Premise/plot: Jane Austen's Best Friend is a biography of Martha Lloyd that focuses on the friendship between Jane and Martha. The two were close, as close as sisters. Their friendship spanned decades. Jane was around twelve years old when the two met. This perspective gives readers an inside glimpse of Jane's personality. Wheddon writes, "Through tracing the tale of Martha and Jane, we will get to see the human side of our heroine author and really feel like we can get to know her better. In looking back somewhat longingly at Martha and Jane’s friendship we can examine all their shared interests, including the hits and misses of their romantic love lives, their passion for shopping and fashion, their connection to their community and the female biography of the period, their family histories, their lucky breaks, their epic fails and their girly chats. In this way, it is my aim for us to ‘recover a personal Jane Austen’, to allow us the opportunity to spend time in a ‘plausible emotional and psychological hinterland’, to create something like our own time-travelling coffee shop, wherein Jane Austen is revealed to us in a different context, in a different light, through the prism of the magical link of friendship."

Martha wasn't just close to Jane, she was close to the entire Austen clan. (Later in life, Mrs. Austen, Jane, Cassandra, and Martha lived together.) Several years after Jane's death, she marries one of Jane's widower brothers.

The chapters:

  1. In the Beginning
  2. Early Writings
  3. Moving Away
  4. Love Lives
  5. Fashion Fun
  6. Fun and Frolics--Out and About
  7. In Sickness and In Health
  8. Home Is Where the Heart Is
  9. Charity Begins At Home
  10. Our Chawton Home
  11. The Character of Friendship
  12. Anything You Can Do...
  13. The Spirit of Friendship
  14. Life After Death
  15. Friendship Never Ends

My thoughts: This book was a good fit for me!!! I really love reading Austen and reading about Austen. I would recommend this one to anyone with similar taste. Love reading Austen's novels? Love reading about Jane Austen? Love the Georgian/Regency time period? Love history? This one may be for you. It releases in April 2021. 


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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