This is not going to be like my other book reviews. I'm not really reviewing at all. I'm just fangirling. Bear with me.
So, I recently re-read some of my favorite books...a wonderful set of books by a wonderful author. Books that I re-read constantly, and love more every time that I do. Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, and Lady Susan. They are all immensely delightful tales that I adore.
Austen's characters are always vibrant and entertaining, her commentaries on society witty and sharp, her dialogue clever, and her narration brilliant and amusing.
Austen is brilliant, and I couldn't possibly begin to even pretend to critique her writing. No words could ever truly express how remarkable and talented her writing is either. So I will leave it simply as she's amazing and so are her books.
Pride & Prejudice
This story follows the life of Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters as they try to navigate society in 19th century England; the balls, the scandals, and the falling in and out of love. Lizzie is an intelligent, witty young lady who is not afraid to speak her mind or point out the follies and foibles of the people around her.
Pride and Prejudice is the first Austen novel I read as a child, and certainly the most popular to modern audiences in terms of the number of adaptions to movies, mini-series, spin-offs, and such-like. I will never tire of reading it. I've also decided that I relate most to Mr. Darcy in this book.
Sense & Sensibility
This novel offers a portrait of two sisters, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, who embody the two qualities set forth in the title. Elinor, the elder of the two, is intelligent, loving, and wise enough to see the potential folly in failing to temper emotion with good sense. Marianne, although sharing many of these qualities, lacks her sister's wisdom; she is, as Austen describes her, 'everything but prudent.'
Sense and Sensibility will never get old. Also, my younger sister and I are very much Marianne and Elinor.
Young and beautiful Emma Woodhouse meddles in the love lives of her friends. Misunderstandings abound.
I don't think that needs any more explanation...
Emma was always the book that I had the most fun reading growing up. I've read all of Austen's books many times over, but for some unexplainable reason, Emma could hold my attention easier than the others. Perhaps the style it is written in is more captivating to me than the others, despite the fact that the main character is so aggravatingly annoying. It might also be because Mr. Knightly is my hero far more than Mr. Darcy ever could be.
Fanny Price, a frail, quiet young woman, is reared from the young age of ten among her wealthy relatives, the Bertrams. Fanny is an unobtrusive presence in the household, and steadfast in her secret affection for her cousin Edmund.
I still remember the first time I read Mansfield Park. I was bored to tears and couldn't finish it. It is crazy for me to think about that time in my youth because now I could read it in a day, never putting it down. Fanny is certainly one of my favorite Austen ladies. She's far different from most Austen heroines, though. She has none of the high spirits or the wit that accompany the likes of Elizabeth Bennet or Marianne Dashwood. But she has a quiet strength and a resolution to adhere to her values and beliefs that is admirable.
Catherine Morland believes she is destined to become a heroine like those in her favorite gothic novels. Her chance to prove this destiny comes when a wealthy neighbor invites her along on a visit outside of her small village, to the city of Bath. There a whole new world is opened to Catherine. She meets Isabella Thorpe, who is more worldly than Catherine and takes it upon herself to instruct Catherine in the ways of society.
Northanger Abbey; the one that I read the least often. It is as amazing as the others, but when I have to choose between 7 novels, I generally go with my favorites. This story will still easily captivate me, however, when I do choose to read it. Austen never failed to write brilliantly.
27-year-old Anne Russel regrets breaking off her engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth. They wanted to be married at 19, but her father, sister, and mentor all disapproved the match. When Anne and Wentworth meet again so many years later, it takes many trials and mishaps for them to reconcile.
The one I often forget, the one that when I read it I remember is my favorite after all (excepting Lady Susan, of course). This story is perfection. Absolute perfection.
Lady Susan is a beautiful and charming widow intent on making every man in England fall in love with her, married or otherwise, and has her eye particularly on Reginold Vernon, her brother-in-law, a man who very much disapproves of 'the most accomplished coquette in England'.
Ah, Lady Susan. My favorite Austen story, hands down. This one is different from the others in many ways. In the first place, it was published posthumously. Secondly, instead of being written in the narrative form, it is, in fact, a series of letters between a handful of individuals. And it is a full-on comedy. Austen incorporates a great deal of the comic in all her stories, and she is also a brilliant critic of society. Lady Susan, though, is the height of her comedic endeavors. And I love it! The titular character is a truly terrible person, but her many adventures amuse me.
So there you have it. Austen is brilliant, her books are amazing, and everyone needs to read them.
P.S. If you are interested in Jane Austen, I also have a fun little post from eons ago that you can read: The Janeite Tag