What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? How old is Mr Collins? And why is it risky to go to the seaside? One of the delights of reading Jane Austen is noticing the puzzles she sets her readers. In 20 succinct chapters, Mullan asks and answers a number of apparently superficial questions about Austen’s world, to demonstrate how its rituals and conventions reveal her technical virtuosity and sheer daring as a novelist.