I confess, I cheated a bit in my reading of The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things (2013). This biography by Paula Byrne explores Our Jane's life and work through eighteen familiar objects - an East Indian shawl, a card of lace, the cocked hat of an military officer's uniform, a fancy carriage (not so small), a royalty cheque.
Each chapter opens with a brief introduction of an object and uses it to launch into a life sketch of Ms. Austen, her family, her friends, her style of travel, her novels, and events of the times.
One of the most fascinating objects was The Bathing Machine. Not an object used for cleanliness but for a romp in the ocean. This object allowed a female bather to enter a walled cart with four wheels and change into her swimming costume. The cart was pushed into the water and the bather could then descend a few steps and slide into the sea - concealed from public view.
Here is where my cheating came in: I read a few chapters and then just read the introductory information about the rest of the objects. That had nothing to do with Ms. Byrne's writing but just my own level of interest and time.
So I read the chapters that I thought would interest me the most: the Vellum Notebooks which contain Ms. Austen's juvenile writings including her History of England; her Box of Letters which I thought would be correspondence but which turned out to actually be a box of letters - alphabet letters - that were used in games; and her laptop - not like mine all connected to the Internet and such, but her personal small traveling desk that held paper, ink, and pens and could be locked. This lap desk now sits in the British Library and I would love to see it someday.
There are color photos of the objects, along with black and white illustrations and sketches of other items and persons of interest, all of which are a treat. So if you are a Jane Austen fan, please give this book a try. I think you will find it a refreshing look at Our Jane's world.