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Jane Austen : Her Heart Did Whisper - Manuela Santoni

Jane Austen

Her Heart Did Whisper

By: Manuela Santoni

Paperback | 1 October 2018

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In a time of formal dances, courtyard courtships, and strict ideas about a woman's role in the world, Jane Austen looked at the England around her and created unforgettable art. Before she was the beloved author of Pride and Prejudice and other classic novels, Jane Austen was a young woman wrestling with society's expectations and challenges of the heart. Her own story involves choices that changed literary history-and perhaps even the choice to walk away from love.

This graphic imagining of Jane Austen's youth includes her creative awakening and her much-speculated-upon encounters with Tom Lefroy, a brash law student. Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper is a vision of the thrills and pains of young romance, the bonds of sisterhood, and the decisions that make a person who she is.


About the Author

Manuela Santoni is an illustrator and a cartoonist from Rome, Italy. Passionate about graphic novels and comics, Santoni works as a freelancer, creates books for children, and publishes her online comic Nowhere Fast at Verticomics.
Industry Reviews

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a young woman in possession of a keen mind must be in want of a husband . . . This graphic work of historical fiction, translated from the Italian, examines the life of beloved author Jane Austen. The story begins with spreads from the end of Jane's life as she writes to her sister, Cassandra, remembering their time together as children, progressing into womanhood, and recounting how she cultivated, with the support of her father, her love of reading and writing. Thanks to her successful readings among the local gentry, she crosses paths with Thomas Lefroy, here presented as an abiding love interest, at a neighbor's home, where they have a gruff first meeting that anyone familiar with Austen's novels will recognize. Young readers new to Austen will enjoy speculating on their romance and will admire Jane's strength in an era that gave women very few options. A loose black-and-white illustration style gives a nice fluidity to the story and fits Jane's personality, although the addition of color would have made it feel more complete. Detailed backmatter fills in some of the holes in the story and helps readers sort fact from fiction. The author shows faith in younger readers by including some challenging vocabulary that may have them reaching for dictionaries. However, the illustrations and context clues make the work accessible. A lovely, quick read.--Kirkus Reviews

-- "Journal"

This graphic novel reimagining of Jane Austen's defining romance will thrill her fans, especially those who enjoyed the film Becoming Jane, which starred Anne Hathaway. The work opens in 1817, with Austen's health failing, as she attempts to write to her sister Cassandra. In that letter, the lines between truth and fiction blur as she recalls her brief but passionate romance with Tom Lefroy, an Irish student of the law, which might have inspired her well-known Pride and Prejudice. In the first-person narration, Jane remembers her struggles with the 'womanly' arts of embroidering and piano playing but revels in her love of jotting down observations of the daily goings-on of their small neighborhood. The teen's passion for writing grows but is called into question when the worldly Lefroy challenges her. The two quickly go from verbal sparring partners to a young couple in love. But with no money between them, their hopes of a lifelong match are dashed. Santoni's black-and-white illustrations present a dreamy fictionalized rendering of the celebrated author's life, from her exuberant youth to her burgeoning career. Her bold black lines bring drama to the fluid, sketchy art. The images vary from multiple sequential panels to full-page, expressive close-ups, adding to the sweeping feel of the tale. The volume includes a thorough time line and a long essay from Austen scholar Mara Barbuni about the Regency-era author's background and influence. VERDICT This graphic novel is more suitable for leisurely reading than research, but Austen fans won't mind. A good choice where Janeites are plentiful.--School Library Journal

-- "Journal"

Writing as a middle-aged Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra, Italian author-illustrator Santoni fictionalizes the beloved author's life, especially her oft-speculated relationship with Tom LeFroy. Jane discovers her love of reading in her father's library, and as she grows older, she creates her own stories. Sparks fly when Tom ignores Jane during one of her recitals, but her resentment blossoms into friendship, and then romance, as they share long conversations. Knowing Austen never married, readers will turn pages, wondering why the liaison ended. Santoni illustrates with loose black ink and washes, invoking a nostalgic whimsy as Jane reflects on her past. The free-flowing style also juxtaposes strict Regency expectations, mimicking Jane's willingness to defy societal norms. Many panels only depict the bottom half of a character's face--be it Jane's scornful mother, tongue wagging, or the author herself as she reads her prose--appropriately highlighting the weight of words, both written and spoken. A brief biography clarifies fact from fiction, citing Austen's burned letters as Santoni's primary inspiration. An engaging, creative addition to Austen's many biographies.--Booklist

-- "Journal"

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