"Unlike her parents and six of her seven siblings, who all lived into their seventies, eighties, or even in one case, nineties, Jane Austen did not see old age. She was just forty-one when she died, in the very prime of her writing life. But she did share, with everyone who outlives youth itself, the experience of growing older. Jane Austen at forty was a different woman from Jane Austen at twenty. Her novels are replete with reference to her characters' perceptions of age in themselves and in others, their awareness of the passage of time, of memory and change. With the lightest of touches, Austen grounds her characters with the age range they inhabit. A small detail of clothes, hair, or deportment, or more freqently and consistently of speech, outlook, and habit, helps us perceive her older characters to be middle-aged or elderly. We experience them as older people, acting and speaking in ways that distinguish them - yet without exaggerated effect - from the youthful cohort whose foils they are. In fact, from infancy to senescece, her characters act in age, while not sacrificing individuality." -- Book Jacket.