What matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

Cover What matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan

Twenty puzzles in Jane Austen’s fiction – twenty (possible) solutions.

In a nutshell:

Short synopsis:

John Mullan shows that we can best appreciate Austen’s brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction. Asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals the inner workings of their greatness.

Language I read the book in:  English

Did I like it?  Yes

For people who:  hate it when apple blossoms turn up in June and nobody has an explanation for it.


My thoughts: 

Both for Jane Austen aficionados as well as for those who simply want to learn more about her this is a must read. In various chapters we are being told about all the little details in her books that most readers don’t even notice and never think about.

Who does never speak? Who calls each other by their first names and if they don’t, why? Not only gives the book insight into the books that you would otherwise not have, it also tells you a lot about the time Jane Austen lived in, her life, letters and circumstances. It dissects the stories, but not in a way that you think “oh, I am sick of Jane Austen now and never want to read anything by her again” but rather in the way that you want to go and re-read all her books once more and discover all those things yourself. You will see her stories in a different light because this book opened your eyes for them.

I will probably buy this book in print and then start to re-read Austen. Also, I will buy it for my Austenite friend. I know that she will love it, too. And, I am sure, so will you. 


Movie tip

Any Jane Austen movie. My recommendations: Pride and Prejudice TV mini series and Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow.


Product info and buy link :

Title What matters in Jane Austen?
Author John Mullan
Publisher Bloomsbury Publishing
ISBN 9781620400418
I got this book from Netgalley
Buy link Buy What matters in Jane Austen? (out in Jan 2013) or an older edition What matters in Jane Austen?

If you click on the buy link above you will be taken to The Book Depository.co.uk. If you buy the book through this link I will earn a small commission. You can find my general affiliate links to The Book Depository, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com here.

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

8 Comments Write a comment

  1. Sounds really nice ! And reread all Jane Austens ??? Yes, definitely a good idea !
    On the other hand it may be a possibility to hear some of them (I’ve already heard “Persuasion” and liked it very much), but then I will choose the german version – I’ve tried “Pride and Prejudice” once, but all the uncommon words were to much for me…even if I must have read the book 20 times before. Nothing for non native speeker …
    Annette’s last post ..Man soll ja…

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    • Audiobooks sind nicht so mein Fall. Und es stimmt, in Englisch sind sie manchmal recht schwer zu verstehen, abhängig vom Vorleser. Aber wir haben ja die Wahl.

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  2. I am not Austen’s biggest fan, so I don’t think this one’s for me. I’m reading “Death comes to Pemberley” by P.D James right now and loving it though, there is some covert critique of Austen’s style and plots there 😀
    Elena’s last post ..A Question of Identity

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