Jane Austen: Christian Encounters Series
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Christian Encounters, a series of biographies from Thomas Nelson Publishers, highlights important lives from all ages and areas of the Church. Some are familiar faces. Others are unexpected guests. But all, through their relationships, struggles, prayers, and desires, uniquely illuminate our shared experience.
Jane Austen is now what she never was in life, and what she would have been horrified to becomea literary celebrity.
Austens novels achieved a timelessness that makes them perennially appealing. Kipling and Churchill found solace in her writings during times of war and illness. Mark Twain had a love/hate relationship with her work. And then, theres our celebrity culture: the television hit Pride and Prejudice, the award-winning 1995 film Sense and Sensibility, and all the remakes and prequels and sequels. Modern-day Jane Austen fans just cant seem to leave her characters alone.
Janeia is the authors term for the mania for all things Austen. This biography captures the varied sides of Austens character and places her Christian faith in a more balanced light and with less distortion than has been achieved previously. It is a delightful journey through a life spent making up stories that touched the lives of millions.
I was riveted by Leithart's excellent biography of Austen, the woman who profoundly influenced me to search for the universal truth in my novels. I was able to see the flesh-and-blood woman I've admired since my teens. Highly recommended for Janeites like me!
--Colleen Coble, best-selling author of The Lightkeeer's Daughter
Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, a leadership training program in Birmingham, Alabama, and serves as Teacher at Trinity Presbyterian Church. He is author, most recently, of *Delivered from the Elements of the World* and *The End of Protestantism.* He and his wife Noel have ten children and seven grandchildren.
While author Peter Leithart doesnt bluntly present Austens faith, he does provide plenty of information on the authors life -- information unlikely to be found in any other history source. Leitharts gentle presentation of Austens faith and the faith of those who surrounded her blends easily with the biographical nature of his book. Some readers may find the book doesnt deliver on its promise of providing a Christian encounter, while other readers are likely to enjoy Leitharts subtle chapters on the Christian background of the Austen family. Of course, when an author leaves behind so little information about her life, the reader should expect a biography to include little information.
However, readers are likely to agree on certain elements lacking in Jane Austen. Its difficult to find a reason to keep reading when the pace of the book moves slowly, for example. Also hindering readers is the lack of an organized and non-confusing use of names.
Christian Encounters Series: Jane Austens failure to provide more specific religious information and less specific familial details keeps it from standing out. Leithart does provide some interesting details on the moral inspirations behind her books, proving the evidence of Ephesians 6:16 in her work: In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Fans of Jane Austen will still find Leitharts Jane Austen an interesting and worth-while read, but all others will better spend their time elsewhere. Harmony Wheeler, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
JenniferBCanadaAge: 35-44Gender: Female3 Stars Out Of 5July 21, 2010JenniferBCanadaAge: 35-44Gender: FemaleThough Ive read many of Jane Austens novels, and several works of historical fiction based around her life, Jane Austen by Peter Leithart, part of Thomas Nelsons Christian Encounters series of short biographies is the first formal biography Ive read of Austens life.Jane Austen was a so-so read for me. It did touch upon Austens rather subdued, formalized Anglican faith, and the outward demonstrations of it in her good works, but the authors main thrust was rather to present his portrait of Jane, which he feels is a correction from the idealized one generally presented. In that, he succeeds. However, in some way I found his work unsatisfying. It is certainly competently written, but it aroused no great interest or passion in me, and left me feeling rather neutral.Leithart also very rapidly introduces Janes extensive family connections in the books first chapter, and it is difficult to keep up with all of the names and family ties. Because of my previous familiarity with Austens life through historical fiction, some of these ties were already established in my mind, which certainly helped, but even so, it was too much, too soon.In conclusion, I cant particularly recommend Jane Austen, but neither can I recommend readers avoid it. In the end I dont have much of a stand to take on this brief (153 pages) biography, but if you are looking for a short introduction to one of the worlds most beloved novelists, you may want to consider this title as an option.
Christy Lockstein4 Stars Out Of 5May 16, 2010Christy LocksteinChristian Encounters: Jane Austen by Peter Leithart is the newest edition in a terrific series about famous Christians in history. I am a big Austen fan, but I've never read any of her biographies. Although she's been dead for nearly two hundred years, her popularity continues to grow with the constant updates of movies based on her popular novels, as well as in novels like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Creatures. Jane's image has undergone several incarnations over the course of history, but it seems only in the late twentieth century has she been acknowledged as the witty, clever, and ironic creator of the English novel. Leithart does a wonderful job of recreating Austen's life (Jenny, as he calls her), with her large, loving, and literate family. He doesn't try to make more of her faith than is truly on the record. Austen had a true and deep faith, but it was that of the eighteenth century: quiet, unspoken, and humble. He uses letters between family members and friends, Jane's books, and prayers she wrote herself to support his thesis. Leithart portrays Jane as a favorite aunt, one who was always ready with a funny story, had time to play games with bored children, and loved to laugh. This biography will not only shed light on Austen's faith, but on how her upbringing contributed to her ability to write such timeless stories.
Susan V.2 Stars Out Of 5April 29, 2010Susan V.I have never read any books written by Jane Austen, but have heard so much about her writings that I decided to read this book. I struggled through the pages of this biography. It was hard to concentrate and hold onto the information presented, and I found myself rereading words -trying to grasp their message. I was disappointed that, although this is a Christian Encounter series book, not much was presented about Jane's faith or walk. I did think it was interesting to note that, although an English clergyman, her father was part of the 18th century clergy when much of their time was devoted to activities that were not related to their parish and that Jane did not get along well with her mother.Although I am sure that much effort went into the writing of this book - the gathering of dates, quotes, and historical facts, I found it to be boring and uninspiring.
Andre Rook5 Stars Out Of 5April 19, 2010Andre RookI think I may boast myself to be, with all possible Vanity, the most unlearned, & uninformed Female who ever dared to be an Authoress; so Jane Austen speaks self-deprecating. But such is evidence of her characteristic humor and deep wit. Jane Austen, a new biography by Peter Leithart, sheds light onto the person and work of the famous novelist. What Leithart calls Austens playful piety, is her uncanny ability to not take herself seriously. Spending most of her time editing her own work, Austen wrote nearly entirely for pleasure, fashioning stories for the entertainment of her family. Leading a relatively simple life, Austen never got married, never procured for herself a career (as was the norm for women in that era), and thus left for herself much time to write and story-craft. Her blessing is surely our gain. I myself have never read any of Austens novels, but I went out and bought a set after reading this biography. Safe to say, it accomplished its task, and I enjoyed it tremendously. My only criticism (and a small one at that) is that it seemed unnecessarily detailed at times, such as describing precise ongoings of Austens extended family, introducing them all in the first chapter. That aside, I give my thanks to Thomas Nelson for giving me this ARC.
Amanda Bird3 Stars Out Of 5April 17, 2010Amanda BirdThe biography Jane Austen written by Peter Leithart is one of a series of biographies published by Thomas Nelson. Mr. Leithart did a thorough job of research in this work and covered extensively the events from before Jane Austens birth until after her death.One must be very familiar with all of Austens work to completely relate to and understand this book. I found it a little too tedious to be enjoyable. Mr. Leithart discusses in great detail plots or characters from Austens books, then immediately switches to events or speculations about Janes actual life. It was a difficult book for me to follow. There are innumerable names throughout the book; both real life and characters. As I mentioned, one would have to be very familiar with all of Austens work and her relatives to digest it all.I would conclude that Mr. Leithart put a great deal of energy into Jane Austens biography. It contains much information and is an informative work. My main complaint with the book is that it was not a book based on facts. Many assumptions and theories fill it and I personally prefer a more straight forward and factual account.I received a review copy through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program.
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