In preparation for an Austeneque book I plan to write this November, I have been raiding my library system for all sorts of Austen-related books. Some are beyond boring, some are quite amusing, and some are merely for glancing through.
"The Friendly Jane Austen" by Natalie Tyler is an excellent book for any Janeite - aspiring or advanced. It covers Austen's life, literature and legacy in a voice that is easy to digest yet not offensive to one's intelligence.
The book is not exhaustive, of course, but it is quite complete for its 299 pages. It gives a nice synopsis of each of Austen's works - major, minor or otherwise. And with the Major works synopsises there are plenty of other bits of fascinating information and interviews with Austen experts.
For example, in the section devoted to "Sense and Sensibility" we see these sections:
The Novels of Sensibility
The Dangers of Sensibility
Sense and Sensibility: a checklist
James Battersby on Jane Austen and the Eighteenth Century
Harriet Walter on Fanny Dashwood
Fanny Dashwood and King Lear's Daughters
QUIZ: Who said that? Great Lines from Jane Austen's Novels
Elinor Dashwood: Governor of Her Own Feelings
The Madness of Marianne
Cowper and Crabbe
None of them too long - each just lengthy enough to capture our interest, answer it, and usher us along.
I heartily enjoyed this book and found it both interesting and informative. If you've read any of Austen's novels and would like to learn more about her, then this is the book for you!
Due to the fact that this book is written for adults, I'd recommend it for ages 16+.