Ambassador of Books ~ Book Club Madam ~ Blogger Gal

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Two Histories of England

Two Histories of England
by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens
157 pages

*** About the Book ***

This book consists of two parts. Part one is a history of England written by Jane Austen at age 16 to be performed for her family's entertainment. Part two is an excerpt from Charles Dickens's lengthy work A Child's History of England, a book that was used to teach history in British schools for many years. There is also an introduction by historian David Starkey.

*** Why I Read It ***

I'm not sure where I first heard about this but I was intrigued by a "unknown" Jane Austen work. Plus I love Dickens, so I knew I'd have to read this. I wish listed it on and eventually got a copy about a year ago. And it sat on my shelf until now. I needed a book that I could finish quickly (before I get my copy of THE GATHERING STORM on 10/29) and this fit the bill.

*** My Thoughts ***

This is a great little book. Austen's portion is a completely biased overview of the British monarchy from Henry IV through Charles I. According to Starkey's introduction, it was meant to be something of a parody of the history lessons taught to young ladies at that time. She does things like excusing all of Charles I's faults on the basis that he was a Stuart, and Stuarts can do no wrong. It was quite amusing! The excerpt from Dickens' work covers approximately the same time period. It was fun to compare their differing takes on the same events. Dickens's history is rather biased as well though, and this was the text taught in schools?! Crazy.

I enjoyed reading this but I think I'd have gotten more out of it if I'd been more familiar with this portion of British history. For those who know this era pretty well, I think you'll get a lot of laughs out of this little book. It would have been a perfect read-a-thon choice for some of you!

Oh, and I do have to add that I love David Starkey's introduction. It gave me the background I needed to understand the purpose of Austen's and Dickens's works. Plus I could imagine Starkey reading to me in his lovely accent (I LOVED his TV series on the wives of Henry VIII).

*** Your Thoughts ***

Does this sound like something you'd like to read? Let me know your thoughts!

So far I haven't found any blogger reviews of this book - did I miss yours?


Meghan said...

I would definitely like to read these - other people's biased histories are always entertaining, especially when they are such famous figures. I'll have to check it out.

ella144 said...

This sounds intriguing and is definitely going on the TBR stack. Thanks!

Heather J. said...

Meghan - You are one of the bloggers who I thought would really enjoy this!

Ella144 - You're quite welcome. :)

StephanieD said...

I had no ideas these existed!

Heather J. said...

StephanieD - I know, that's why this appealed to me so much when I first heard of it.

Justin Narin said...

Sounds quiet some fun :) Will try and get my hands on this.

Freedom Debt Reviews

Mystica said...

Hadnt heard of these upto now but would like to read them. As Meghan says other people's views are somtimes opposite to a generally held view. Interesting reading I would think.

Rebecca Reid said...

This sounds like SO MUCH FUN! I read Dicken's Life of Our Lord which is a child's history of the gospels. Of course it's biased but certainly fun reading!

I'm going to go find this one!

Heather J. said...

Justin & Mystica - It was definitely interesting!

Rebecca - The bias in these two works is so strong it is laughable; and Austen meant hers as a joke but Dickens was being serious. You'd really enjoy this one I think.

Rebecca Reid said...

It's IN in my library! Picking up tomorrow!

Heather J. said...

Rebecca - YAY!

J.T. Oldfield said...

I picked this up at a used bookstore to add to my list for Everything Austen. I haven't read it yet, but I'll let you know what I think about it when I do!

Heather J. said...

J.T. - Another YAY! Can't wait to see what you think. :)

Jen - devourer of books said...

Okay, you've completely sold me on this one. I know the first portion of that history fairly well, the Plantagenets, War of the Roses, and the Tudors. I'm not so up on the Stuarts, but maybe this would spark an interest for me.

Heather J. said...

Jen - I hope you enjoy it! It was lots of fun to read, and REALLY quick.

Lisa said...

I haven't heard of this. But loving both Dickens and Austen, it sounds intriguing!

Heather J. said...

Lisa - It was definitely a interesting book, that's for sure!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin