Yes, THAT Jane Austen. No, it is not a newly published, undiscovered manuscript (alas), but rather the earliest inklings of the author of the beloved classics Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion. In these, her early writings, the wit and sense of irony is already present – she not only makes fun of the society of her time, but also “high romantic” literature of her time; which instructs ladies, when in times of crises, to swoon, sigh and faint with passion - instead of doing anything remotely helpful – as this will allow them to catch their death of cold, thereby inducing more swooning with grief and dying. Ms. Austen’s characters suggest that women’s' jealousy of each other's beauty is of more importance than the care of their children or families, that suitors of "two-and thirty" should be considered "quite old", and a proficiency in delivering back-handed compliments is essential in polite society. That most of the stories are told from the perspective of ladies who would not know true affection and politeness if it bit them on the bustle is of no consequence; think of Pride and Prejudice as if it were written from the perspective of Lydia Bennett and you will understand my meaning. For example, the sudden deaths of husbands and lovers are inconveniences that prevent holidays rather than being the lamentable events that they should be. Many of the stories contained therein consist of a series of letters between a group of friends - though from the same author's pen, each lady has a distinct personality, and their different voices together round out the events - or rather, non-events - of each tale. And if the history of the English monarchy has always been a puzzle, Ms. Austen has provided her own version of events, in which Richard III must have been a respectable man (since he was from the House of York), and in which Elizabeth I was the villain and her cousin Mary was innocent of all treachery. How much of this should be taken as tongue-in-cheek may be determined by the reader, but to help, illustrations of some of these nefarious personages by Jane's sister Cassandra are provided in the book's opening pages. Love and Friendship is recommended for all of Ms. Austen's fans, or any person who highly regards wit combined with satire.

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