Just Jane

Written by Nancy Moser

This fictional biography of Jane Austen, published by a house better known for Christian fiction, spans the period of her life from Tom Lefroy to the publication of Emma. Jane writes in first person, as if setting down her private thoughts in a journal, on the events Austen fans know well, such as their poverty while living in Bath after her father’s death, visiting siblings and their children, and the trials of becoming a published author.

Moser uses Austen’s own words where possible, imagination coming into play mainly when she tries to decipher Jane’s feelings, according to an appendix explaining what was fact and what fiction. Other supplemental materials include a cast of characters, what happened after the book ends, and a book club discussion guide. The target audience seems to be the general readers who may have seen film and TV adaptations of Austen’s work, but don’t know much about her life. Austen scholars and fervent Janeites might object (e.g., some Americanisms creep into the text), but it’s a good introduction to Austen’s life for that audience, and ought to spark enough interest to lead readers to try Austen’s letters or a straight biography.