Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Life in Small Things

If you can bear one more Jane Austen post, then read on. 

I stumbled across this article by Kate Hutchings in which she takes a look at ten books to keep Janeites entertained over the summer. The one book that I thought sounded fascinating was The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne. The subtitle is A Life in Small Things and the biography takes a look at Austen's life as "revealed through the small things - a scrap of paper, a gold chain, an ivory miniature - that held significance in her personal and creative life."

How refreshing! To examine the author's life through the items that she held dear. I now am next in line on the reserve list for the book from the library. 

I wonder what 'small things' a biographer would use to examine my life (not that that is ever going to happen, but I wonder just the same). Would that collection include my fountain pen? the diamond ring inherited from my grandmother? my favorite childhood game of Spill and Spell, its letter cubes still in their original garish orange container?

Oh yes, these are idle thoughts for an idle day. 

Have you read this book about Our Jane? What 'small things' would show up in your biography? 


  1. After reading your Jane Austen posts, as well as stumbling on a movie version of Mansfield Park yesterday, I'm convinced that I need to read some more Jane--both her own writings, and something about her. I'll be reading the article by Kate Hutchings and what she thinks are essential reads, and I think I'll check out In the Garden With Jane Austen, by Kim Wilson, from my library.

    As for what "small things" that would show up in my biography, that's a good question. Perhaps the miniature Vespa I have on my desk, a notebook (because I write in one nearly every day), a small heart necklace that I bought myself for my 40th birthday...

    1. Kathy, I looked up "In the Garden with JA" and it looks delightful. I am sure you will enjoy it. Oops. My library doesn't have a copy. Too bad. I do love a pretty book of flowers!

      Nice collection of 'small things'. I am glad you don't have a full-size Vespa on your desk! And, I am happy to know I am not the only one who buys herself birthday presents...

  2. I wonder if I have too much clutter to even find the small things, Belle. Jane Austin would have fewer "things", therefore more meaningful, I suppose, as was dictated by the time she lived in. I would hope my coin pearl necklace would make someone wonder about me while fingering the flat pearl, or the simple wedding band made by my husband. Then there is a collection of bird feathers, each one from a different bird . .

    What an intriguing question.

    I have both my mother's and my father's wallets. Old, folded singles, social security cards, paper driver's license. Imagine the time when one carried their ss card?

    1. Good point, Penny, about Our Jane having fewer possessions. I like your list. You have some intriguing items - I don't know anyone who has a collection of bird feathers.

      Thanks for letting me know about your 'small things.'

      How great that you have your parents' wallets and contents. I have my dad's leather one and used it as my own for a long time. It was a vertical bifold and I loved pulling it out of my purse. In this day of rampant identity theft, it does seem funny to think of carrying around one's SS card.