Bethany House Publishers
In Just Jane: A Novel of Jane Austen’s Life, author Nancy Moser attempts to go deeper than the biographers have ever gone. She lets the novel unfold through the eyes of Jane herself, painting a bold, intimate portrait of the author, whose personality and personal life remain largely veiled. The undertaking is admirable, but Jane Austen deserves a greater tribute. Although Moser takes a first-person approach in narration, she does not attempt to tell the story in Austen’s eloquent style. Moser admits this in an appendix at the back of the book, but the sentence fragments and three-word paragraphs will chase off dedicated Austen fans long before they reach the appendices.
The novel is not without some virtue, however. Just Jane is clearly the product of exhaustive research, and the “What Is Fact and What Is Fiction?” section is honestly and thoroughly compiled. Moser’s characterizations of Jane and Cassandra are superb, and she insightfully reveals traits in Jane’s acquaintances and events in her life that may have inspired her classic novels.
The first-person, present-tense approach gives Just Jane the feel of a journal. Like a journal, it recounts Jane’s everyday experiences, but the superfluous details bog down the storyline considerably. Just Jane deals very little with Jane’s writing, rather, the book revolves around Jane’s frequent visits with her many friends and family, no matter how trivial the visit. Each scene and chapter has its own focus, which is generally unrelated to the book as a whole. The reader would be spared many extra pages—and some boredom—if Moser had trimmed some of the deadweight, especially insignificant locations and characters. However, a family tree would have made Jane’s enormous family much more manageable.
But the last straw for many Jane-ites may be the anachronisms. Just Jane contains Austen-era English words and spellings like “chuse,” “shew,” “’tis,” “e’en,” “o’er,” and “gaol.” But sharply contrasted against these are the anachronistic references to Niagara Falls and “wannabes.”
One line in Just Jane says it best: There is “too frequent a change from one set of people to another, and ... circumstances will be sometimes introduced to apparent consequence, which will lead to nothing.” (p. 342) – Rose Rider, Christian Book Previews.com
Jane Austen lives simply in the English countryside with her beloved family, entertaining them with her stories and seeking romance. She never ventures far from her own corner of the world and struggles to find her place in it. Growing up in a clergyman's home gives Jane opportunities to observe human nature at its best--and worst.
Vivid and delightful characters pour from her pen--Elizabeth Bennet, Fitzwilliam Darcy, Emma Woodhouse, Fanny Price, John Willoughby ... Jane dreams of publishing her stories and sharing them with the world, but she's just Jane from Steventon, isn't she? Will anyone ever read her novels?
In this moving and authentic portrayal, Christy Award-winning author Nancy Moser transports readers back to the life and times of the literary world's possibly most beloved heroines.