Review of “Jane Austen’s England”

Jane Austen's England

Jane Austen’s England by Roy A. Adkins

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Originally, I was only going to read as historical background for a work in progress set during the Regency period. The deeper I got, the more fascinating I found the subject.

The Adkinses (husband and wife team) weave a detailed impression of life at almost all levels of society (the Court is not discussed). It becomes apparent that the impression of Jane Austen’s England we get from popular media was true for only a few. The majority of the population lives in a Hobbesian world where death and illness were a common phenomenon. And even for the upper and middle classes, one of the defining characteristics of the age would be the stench.

The book is also filled with little nuggets that transform our view. Two examples –
1. Rather than the elegant clothing of wardrobe directors, most of the people would have had only one or two garments.
2. Women might get married naked or in a simple shift to symbolize that their husband did not acquire any debts that they may have had.

Bottom Line – This is a fascinating bit of research even if you are not an Austen fan, although I must admit, having read this, I have added a number of her books to my ‘To Be Read’ list.

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