Love and Freindship

Friday, August 28, 2015

Love and Freindship
by Jane Austen
★★★★

At this point I’ve read and reread all of Austen’s novels. Each time I dive into her work I discover new things to reflect upon. This was my first foray into her juvenilia and I was surprised to find her sharp wit and sense of humor were already developed. She clearly improved her character and plot development with age, but these early works still have her tone.

I’d already read Lady Susan, which is included her, but the rest was new to me. I have to say the Penguin Clothbound Classics edition was excellent. The introduction includes information about the pieces in the book and Austen’s life, which provides context and depth.

"A remarkable feature of the juvenilia is its ability to subvert limitations imposed on young women, especially in the field of education."

Each of the tales focuses more on a single plot point than on character development. There's the girl who accidentally gotten engaged to two different men, and then commits suicide because she felt so bad. Another flirts at a ball and is scandalized. There are also quite a few glimpses of her later novels. In "From a Young Lady crossed in Love to her freind" we meet a young woman who is overwhelmed with heartbreak when she is betrayed by a man named Willoughby, just like Sense and Sensibility.

Austen’s sense of humor is particularly obvious in “The History of England”. She declares it is written by "a partial, prejudiced, and ignorant Historian". It includes lines like…

"During his reign, Lord Cobham was burnt alive, but I forget what for."

Her dedications at the beginning of each story became one of my favorite parts of the book. They’re intentionally overly serious and very amusing.

BOTTOM LINE: Austen’s juvenilia is playful and fun, but it also shows the promise of the writer that she will become. I loved having the chance to learn more about one of my favorite authors through her early work. A must for any true Austen fan!

5 comments:

lyra said...

I read Lady Susan a year ago and I just loved it! It seems to me Austen was less forgiving as a young author and I think she was more daring. Compared to juvenilia her later works seem sugar-coated.
As for the edition, I think you have just persuaded me into buying it. The shoe-texture wasn't too tempting but now I'm willing to look beyond that :D

Moonlight Reader said...

I just read Lady Susan this year and thought it was magnificent! I can't believe I hadn't read it before. My review is on my blog, here:

http://thedwsblog.com/2015/08/23/lady-susan-by-jane-austen/

I wish that she had written a full-length (non-epistolary) novel featuring Lady Susan. It astounds me that she wrote it when she was only 19 years old - Jane was wise beyond her years!

Anne Bennett said...

I have yet to read Austen's juvenilia. This review is pushing me in its direction.

bkclubcare said...

I'm reading Mansfield Park!!! Just thought I would share.

Melissa (Avid Reader) said...

Lyra - I didn't love the shoe pattern either, but the edition itself was full of great info!

Moonlight - I absolutely think she was wise beyond her years too!

Anne - I was a little worried I wouldn't like it at all. But I really found that you could see shades of the writer she became in those early pieces. :)

bkclubcare - I appreciated that one a lot more when I reread it. Fanny drove me crazy the first time around.