Sunday, May 16, 2010

Christian Encounters: Jane Austen

Today was the final concert of the school year. Molly didn't get as many solos as she usually does, but she got to dance in two numbers, and that was a lot of fun to watch. This concert always marks the beginning of the end of the school year. Only three more weeks of school, just two more Mondays, and the kids will be home for the summer. Doogie is already home from college; he was done last Wednesday. It's hard to imagine that in just a few weeks, Molly will be senior, and this time next year, we'll be preparing for her graduation. I am so not ready for that!

Christian 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.
Thank you to Phenix & Phenix Publicity for providing me with a copy of this book for review!