Today I’m talking about one of my favorite authors, Jane Austen. This year I’ve had the pleasure of reading all six of her novels with two of my best friends from college. We meet virtually over Google Hangouts (scheduling across three time zones is no joke!) and happily spend a few hours catching up on our lives and discussing literature. Our conversations ranged from the intellectual, pondering themes and subversive female characters, to the bizarre, as we decided that Channing Tatum would make an excellent Bingley in the modern musical adaptation of Pride & Prejudice. Our informal reading club quickly became one of my favorite things about this year and I’m eagerly awaiting our future book selections.
With this post I’m introducing a new series of author introductions. Upon reading several books by an author, I’ll share my thoughts on their writing here on the blog. In the future I’ll also write full reviews of the books, but as I’d already read most of Austen by the time I launched this blog, this initial post will contain brief thoughts on Austen’s books. This series will also be a handy way to search for an author and find my reviews of their work in one place.
Now without further ado, onto Austen!
Austen is satirical, witty, and somehow also a romantic. I often found myself needing to reread lines in order to get a joke. Her writing focuses on marriage plots and relationships. As such, her books contain a great deal of talking.
Works I’ve Read:
*Note that her novels are listed here in publication order.
This was our last Austen read. Elinor and Marianne are my favorite Austen sisters! I loved reading of the ways in which they stuck up for one another, mocked one another, and generally tried to help each other whenever possible. I enjoyed discovering just how many characters in this book went from insufferable to beloved, and vice versa. I thought the plot was fantastic and ultimately, I really loved reading this book! I gave Sense & Sensibility 4 / 5 stars.
This was the first novel we read together and, I’m slightly embarrassed to say, it was my first time reading it or any Jane Austen! I loved this book more than I even thought I would. Elizabeth and Darcy are cemented in our culture as an iconic couple, as well as standalone characters. This book is funny, charming, and witty. I gave Pride & Prejudice 5 / 5 stars.
Mansfield Park was a tough one for me. Quite a bit happened with the plot, but I grew so frustrated with Fanny the protagonist I didn’t know what to do. I hesitate even to use the word ‘heroine’ to describe Fanny because to me, she’s not. She’s quite different from all other Austen protagonists. For me, in this novel more than any other Austen novel, the characters were unempathetic. I gave Mansfield Park 3 / 5 stars.
To be perfectly candid, this was my least favorite Austen novel. I won’t go so far as to say I hated it, because I certainly didn’t, but I did not enjoy Emma nearly as much as the other novels. For me, there was far too much conversation and too little action. Additionally, I found Emma to be a bit boring. Her prime activity was interfering in other people’s relationships, and it wasn’t nearly as funny as when Mrs. Bennet does it in Pride & Prejudice. I gave Emma 3 / 5 stars.
I thought Persuasion was fantastic! I greatly enjoyed this novel of unrequited love, second chances, and love triumphant. For me, Persuasion has the most romantic male lead in all of Austen and yes, I realize that lists him above Darcy. Also, this novel had such a satisfying conclusion featuring the most passionate and honest letter in the history of literature. I gave Persuasion 4 / 5 stars.
Northanger Abbey was the surprise favorite for me! I found this book to be laugh out loud funny in ways I never expected. This book is technically a satire, so the situations and conversations are ridiculous to the extreme. By that, I mean our heroine tells her love interest she thinks his father murdered his mother! This book has everything: love, danger, adventure, villains, and a happy ending. I gave Northanger Abbey 5 / 5 stars.
And that’s it for Jane Austen! I will likely update this post in the future if I read any Austen related books. Have you read any Austen? Which one is your favorite?