Download Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin Audiobook

Book of Ages: The Life and Opinions of Jane Franklin Audiobook, by Jill Lepore Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jill Lepore Narrator: Robin Miles Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2013 ISBN: 9781470381349
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From one of our most accomplished and widely admired historians comes a revelatory portrait of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister and a history of history itself. Jane Franklin was, like her brother, a passionate reader, a gifted writer, and an astonishingly shrewd political commentator. Unlike him, she was a mother of twelve.

Benjamin Franklin, who wrote more letters to his sister than he wrote to anyone else, was the original American self-made man; his sister spent her life caring for her children. They left very different traces behind. Making use of an amazing cache of little-studied material, including documents, objects, and portraits only just discovered, Jill Lepore brings Jane Franklin to life in a way that illuminates not only this one woman but an entire world—a world usually lost to history. 

Lepore’s life of Jane Franklin, with its strikingly original vantage on her remarkable brother, is at once a wholly different account of the founding of the United States and one of the great untold stories of American history and letters: a life unknown.

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Quotes & Awards

  • Book of Ages is an ardently told life story, brimming with love and loss against a background of political strife and war. Jill Lepore opens a smeared casement on the life of Jane, Benjamin Franklin’s gifted sister, confidante, and life-long correspondent. While Benjamin was able to forge a path to greatness from his obscure beginnings, Jane, trapped by gender, starved of education, was not. The contrast between the two destinies is by turns captivating, enraging, and profoundly moving. As Lepore sheds light on this one, unsung life, she brilliantly illuminates an entire era.”

    Geraldine Brooks, New York Times bestselling author of Caleb’s Crossing

  • “Jane Franklin’s indomitable voice and hungry, searching intellect shine through these pages; she will not be forgotten, and the world is richer for it.”


  • “A thoughtful and illuminating biography.”

    O, The Oprah Magazine

  • “As she stitches together Jane’s story, Lepore gives us a side of Benjamin Franklin we have never seen—an evocative look at what life was like for most eighteenth-century women.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Meticulously constructed…Consistently first-rate.”

    New York Times

  • “It is uncanny how vividly personal, how vibrantly colored, Jane’s voice sounds from these pages…let’s call it genius.”

    Barnes&, editorial review

  • “Luminous…Jane emerges as witty, curious, and resilient in the face of unimaginable grief, yet she is not an unsung hero of the revolution, a forgotten Abigail Adams. Her importance, as Lepore’s portrait memorably shows, lies in her ordinariness—her learning thwarted by circumstance but her intelligence shaped by her uniquely female experience. We may know about Jane Franklin only because of her famous brother, but he is not why she matters.”

    Washington Post

  • “A tour de force that can only evoke admiration.”

    Washington Times

  • “It is simultaneously a fascinating look at early America, a meditation on one remarkable mind by another, and, implicitly, a biography of all the other Janes—history’s anonymous and overlooked women.”

    New York

  • “Astonishing…This is a work of meticulous reconstruction and high ambition….In Book of Ages, Lepore has lovingly resurrected [Jane Franklin].”

    Boston Globe

  • “In this beautifully written double biography, Lepore brings into focus not just the life of Jane Franklin Mecom, alongside that of her brother, but illuminates the dynamic era through which they lived and gives us a birds’-eye view of history from the vantage point of a powerless woman who grew up in a Boston family alongside one of the eighteenth century’s greatest authors, entrepreneurs, scientists, and statesmen…This lyrical and meditative book ranks familiarly as a history or biography, but is more than either…It descends historiographically from Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s A Midwife’s Tale as a classic and enduring tribute to an obscure woman, only this one also had a famous brother.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • Book of Ages is the name of Lepore’s extraordinary new book about Jane Franklin, but to call it simply a biography would be like calling Ben’s experiments with electricity mere kite flying….The end product is thrilling—an example of how a gifted scholar and writer can lift the obscure out of silence. In so doing, Lepore enriches our sense of everyday life and relationships and conversational styles in Colonial America…The brilliance of Lepore’s book is that plain Jane’s story becomes every bit as gripping—and, in its own way, important—as Big Ben’s public triumphs.”


  • “Eloquent…deeply sensitive to language.”

    New York Review of Books

  • Book of Ages is an artful, serious, marvelous book. Lepore brings to it focus, intensity, and proud delight in her subject.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “By restoring Jane so vividly to the historical record, Lepore provides a fresh, personal perspective on Benjamin. And so extraordinarily demanding was her research, even the appendixes in Lepore’s vibrantly enlightening biography are dramatic…Lepore’s stature grows with each book, and this first telling of a remarkable American story, supported by a national tour and generous print run, is destined for an even greater readership.”

    Booklist (starred review)

  • “Lepore masterfully formulates the story of Benjamin Franklin’s youngest sister, who will be virtually unknown to many readers, using only a few of her letters and a small archive of births and deaths…Jane Franklin was an amazing woman who raised her children and grandchildren while still having the time to read and think for herself. We can only see into her mind because her correspondent was famous and because a vastly talented biographer reassembled her for us.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • “This book is an important, inspiring portrait of a determined and faith-filled woman who just happened to be the sister of a big shot. It will be enjoyed by all.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

  • “Jane Mecum, the subject of this well-done audiobook, gives listeners a rare look at how difficult life was in eighteenth-century America. In a splendid performance, Robin Miles narrates this unusual story, told through correspondence between Jane and her brother, Benjamin Franklin. Because Jane was Franklin’s youngest sister, listeners would suppose she lived a life of privilege. In reality, her life was one of pain and travail. Twelve of her children died, and her marriage to a profligate husband forced them to live with her parents. Miles’ interpretations show Jane’s devotion to her brother and his to her. However, Miles’ exceptional performance will also make women glad they live three centuries later.”


  • A 2013 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction
  • A BookPage Best Book of 2013
  • A 2013 New York Times Editor’s Choice
  • A 2013 Washington Post Top 10 Book
  • A 2013 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2013 NPR Best Book
  • Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2013 Booklist Editors’ Choice for Adult Books
  • Nominated for the 2013 Plutarch Award for Best Biography of the Year
  • One of Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2013
  • A Time Magazine Top 10 Book of 2013 in Nonfiction
  • A Barnes & Noble Best Book of 2013
  • A Boston Globe Book of the Year for 2013
  • One of O Magazine’s Ten Titles to Pick Up Now
  • A 2013 New York Times Book Review Notable Book
  • A 2013 National Book Award Finalist

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About the Author

Jill Lepore, a New York Times bestselling author, is the David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard University and a staff writer at the New Yorker. Her many books include New York Burning, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; The Name of War, winner of the Bancroft Prize; The Mansion of Happiness, short-listed for the 2013 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction; and Book of Ages, a finalist for the National Book Award.

About the Narrator

Eileen Stevens is a voice-over actress living and working in New York City whose voice can be heard on cartoons, promos, programs for English-language learners, and audiobooks. She has voiced Iris on Pokémon. An Earphones Award–winning narrator, she has also directed and produced audiobooks for over six years.