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Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World    by Claire Harman order for
Jane's Fame
by Claire Harman
Order:  USA  Can
Henry Holt, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth

The flyleaf of the book Jane's Fame by Claire Harman states that 'When the publisher Thomas Cadell declined an unsolicited manuscript in 1797 he made one of the biggest mistakes in publishing history.' Sure, you guessed it. He turned down one of Jane Austen's novels an early version of Pride and Prejudice - and Jane was destined to become one of the most recognizable names in literature.

What is known about Jane is open for discussion. So many family stories passed down through the years prove to be mostly speculation. Even a true facsimile of her is known to be altered to be more pleasing to the eye. Her history is vague, as far as her likes and dislikes go.

What is positive is that you either love Jane's writing or hate it. Seems to be evenly divided. Jane certainly did not have much in her own life to draw on. She was quiet and reserved, a real homebody who wrote to increase the family coffers. Her writings revolved around 'three or four families in a Country Village'. Books about her abound, though biographers didn't have much information with which to work. But they managed to glean enough material to write about Jane's life. And readers buy their books to learn just a smidgen more about 'the Divine Jane.'

Harman explains how over two hundred years, Jane's work has been scrutinized, criticized, lauded and defamed by statesmen, anarchists, romance writers, critics, as well as being translated into numerous languages. Imagine how surprised she would be to see her books still being reprinted and in such demand. Her characters stand out and are recognized by the world - Mr. Darcy being a case in point

Jane Austen clubs cover the globe. Her books are read and reread up to at least fifteen times! Known as Janeites, her followers feel she had and still has a great cultural impact. Claire Harman does justice to the iconic writer's life and to her lasting influence in Jane's Fame.

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