Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Manuela Santoni
Illustrator: Manuela Santoni
Publisher: Graphic Universe
This graphic novel illustrates Jane Austen’s youth and life. Jane’s family life and the social environment that surrounded her are what influenced her acclaimed books. Her father introduced her to reading and writing, while her mother pressured her to learn piano, embroidery, and to marry a good husband. She meets a young lawyer from London, Tom Lefroy, to whom she becomes engaged. After some time apart, however, she no longer feels the same and breaks off the engagement. Over the years, she never feels the same for any man. At the end of her life, Jane becomes ill and questions the line between reality and fiction in her novels.
Santoni captures the similarities between Jane’s life experiences and her writings. Through black and white illustration, the author shows the angst Jane feels towards social standards of her time and the escape she finds in reading and writing. Her characters and plot lines in many of her stories parallel parts of her life. This book is best appreciated if the reader knows a little about Jane Austen’s works, although the author does explain them a bit. The end of the book includes more detail about Jane Austen’s life, the time period she lived in, and the characters she created. The graphic novel format lends itself well to capturing Jane’s emotions for her life and writings.