Since today(December 16) would be my favourite author’s birthday if she was alive, I believe it is proper to have a review of the main seven novels.
The complete set is one of my favourites read, I love me some Jane Austen.
I love her writing became of the way she merges her story with excellent scenery writing. She writes her scenes so well, I can feel and see the atmosphere at Lyme in Persuasion, I can see the beauty of the surroundings of the cottage when the Dashwoods moves in Sense and Sensibility. The landscape was so beautiful when Catherine and the Thorpes went sightseeing and the oh so lovely scene where Henry Tilney and Catherine Morland were exchanging words on novel-writing in Northanger Abbey.
The age of the writing also draws me to Austen’s world. I love reading about people in a different time period from the 20st and 21th century. The older the setting the better, 18th and 19th century is just an interesting period where society etiquettes were so class structured. It is one aspect that shows up in all her novels. The Bertrams took Fanny into the family but she was kept on a class beneath Edmund, Julia, Tom and Maria in Mansfield Park. The Elliots with excepting Anne accepted Captain W into their circles in Bath only when he amassed a fortune on the sea in Persuasion.
Austen’s characters are some of the wackiest and best in English Literature. I am glad she did not shy away from characters who would make women blush behind their fans in their morning rooms. Maria Bertram and Henry Crawford from Mansfield park, Lady Susan Vernon from Lady Susan, Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility, Lydia Bennet and George Wickham from Pride and Prejudice. I am also appreciated of the men who were so devoted and loved their women: Captain W, Colonel Brandon, Mr. Darcy. The comical ones also added laughter and fits of vexation for me: Mr. Collins were just so ridiculous, I could not help but laugh at him in P&P but I just wish Mary in Persuasion would shut up and go away.
Sense and Sensibility
In my opinion it is the best written novel by Jane Austen. I see it as the novel to introduce anyone into the Jane Austen world. Issues of entailment, love triangles, class structure, annoying and dreaded in-laws. All of these are in the other novels but there is something about the way it is in Sense and Sensibility which makes it more special. It is the only novel where it feels like there are two heroes and heroines, it adds more spice to the plot
Pride and prejudice
I see it as the most overrated Jane Austen novel. I see many lovers of the story label Sense and Sensibility as dry but I see P&P has some of the same things as S&S. For example, the details of what entailment can do to a family. In P&P, Mrs. Bennet thirst to marry Mr. Collins to one of her daughters is comical and the soap opera continues when Mr. Collins pursues the best friend of the girl he once proposed marriage. It is just annoying how Lizzie spend so much time disliking Darcy but how the size of his property helped her realize that Darcy is a catch. I do think that the novel has one of the best opening characters in the set, it pulls you. Jane and Bingley is also my favourite Austen couple.
I appreciate how this novel deviates from having the hero and heroine love story as the main focus, instead it is left for the ending. If one wants to understanding the workings of how different immediate families of various incomes interacted with each other in the extended field, this is the novel. It is home to my second favourite heroine- Fanny. At times I found she was a bit too obsessive with loving Edmund. She should realize that since she raised almost as a sister to him, a blossoming romantic love would be awkward to comprehend for him and others. I understand that it was the norm of the day for marriages between cousins but it still felt awkward in my eyes. I guess this is me bringing 20th and 21st eyes into Austen 18th/19th world. This novels also sheds some light and interesting insights into marriage. Those who marry all for love with no money and those who married all for money and no love.
It is my least favourite Austen novel because of the heroine and her obnoxious ways. I really do not believe that she is half as contrite as Austen wants to sell me. I just seriously disliked how she treated Harriet as a project and I disappointed in Harriet for letting Emma influenced her to the extent, she cannot make her own decisions. The opening chapters were difficult to get my juices into and those long talks by Miss Bates does not help at all. Emma and Mr. Knightley as a couples just seem odd.
It is my favourite novel, out of the set. The scenery is just so beautifully written, I felt I was present in Lyme when Louisa fell, when Mrs Russell drove into Bath, when the small party of Musgroves, Captain W and Anne walked as far as Winthrop etc. I love how Austen changed scenes so effortlessly allowing the story to flow without difficulty. My favourite character is Anne and I like her sweet character in the face of family members who take advantage of her and excludes her from their inner circle. It is amazing how she is in such inner turmoil about her love for Captain W, yet she looks so fortified on the outside. Although I wanted to smack Captain W for adding extra pain to Anne on his return from life at sea, his letter explains to a certain extent his actions and feels. That letter is very moving!
I describe it as the cute novel with the hero with a nice mouth. It is not so dramatic as the other novels and I like the fun, relax tone. Although there is a touch of mystery because of Catherine over active imagination, the novel is a light cozy read. The hero and heroine are not so over the top smitten in love and I appreciate the difference, compared to the other novels. Catherine is all starry eye but Mr. Tilney is taking his cool time teasing her about books and other titbits.
I really did enjoy reading in this epistle style form of story telling. I had to warm to the style at first and distinguish the characters but when I settled, it was just an enjoyable experience. Lady Susan is very scandalous and probably the worst mother in Austen world to a sweet hearted daughter Frederica. I was very surprised at the ending, I did not see that coming!