Harris's monograph represents the crowning achievement of a career devoted to placing Austen's novels in rich historical context. So varied are three books in content, style and approach that one can hardly sum them up collectively, except to observe that Austen studies is now growing healthily in many directions.
Ultimately, this book has much to teach Austen enthusiasts and scholars, as well as general readers interested in British literature, European history, and women’s studies. . . Harris’s study provides a fascinating comparative narrative that illuminates Austen’s works in light of the events and lives of famous people from her time. Harris’ book fully captures the gamut of Austen’s life as well as her works, for it offers us an opportunity to expand our thinking on all of Austen’s writings — from her juvenilia up to her last piece of writing, her verses on Winchester. The result is a fresh way of seeing Austen as a flexible writer, editor, and reviser who taps into current events and furtively — and satirically — tucks them into her tales.