Money is significant in Jane Austen’s novels. Her characters worry about it, scheme for it and, of course, spend it. Money is not simply a way of placing people: it propels plots, adds drama and tells us much about an individual’s nature and morals.
Taking the novels as his starting point, Stephen Mahony looks at the wealth and social standing of Austen’s characters in relation to the economic background of the day, giving us real insight into their aspirations and motivations. What did a servant earn? Just how poor was Miss Bates? What were the pay and conditions of a midshipman like William Price? What would it cost to house, clothe and feed the entire Bennet family? And how much would Elizabeth Bennet need to live comfortably if she hadn’t married Darcy?
The result is a revealing account of Austen, her characters and the England in which they lived.