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Persuasion by Jane Austen (A Good Love Story Series #3)

13 Feb

Valentine’s Day is tomorrow and those of you who love love are probably just jittery with excitement, and those of  you who are ambivalent about or loathe love are, you know, out there doing your thing. But three is a magic number, they say, so here’s a third Jane Austen novel for your consideration: Persuasion. I realize Austen is not to everyone’s taste–I’ll be honest, she’s not my favorite, though I do admire how timeless her stories can be–but her books are so influential to romance today. Maybe consider a read if you haven’t already, for history?

Persuasion by Jane Austen

Published: 1818

Quick Read?: Yes. This is one of her shortest novels.

Difficulty: Not difficult.

Synopsis: Anne Elliot is merely the 19-year-old daughter of a baron who falls in love with a poor but smart young man named Wentworth. Eager to marry him, Anne finds herself meeting resistance from her family who love to flaunt their wealth and good looks all while looking down on the lower classes. It isn’t until Anne’s confidant, Lady Russell, talks to her though that she decides to break off the engagement with her beloved Wentworth, thinking she will find someone more suitable for her class. Alas, time moves along, and Anne is still without a fiance. Until ten years down the line, when she runs into Wentworth who joined the navy and became a naval war hero, and oh yeah, has found a new girl who loves him for who he is. Can love ignite for these two once more? Or have ten years apart ripped these two lovers apart for good?

Why read this book? Well, for starters, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility (profiled earlier this month) are Austen’s more popular reads, along with Emma. So if you’ve read those, but not Persuasion, you’ll be in for a treat. It’s also a part of the Northanger Abbey series, so if you’re hoping to dig into a series during these dull winter months, it’d certainly be worth looking into!

And, as I’ve said before, and will say again, Austen created classic romantic and realistic story lines that have been mimicked and copied for nearly two centuries now. The lovers that split because of issues of class, only to meet again and give love another shot (spoilers? oh, whatever) has been done who knows how many times now. To read her original works and read one of the inspirations for romance nowadays is a pretty neat experience, even if you’re not all into chivalry yourself.

If the neat stuff I listed about Austen and her works before was not enough…well too bad. I’m conserving a bit of energy for a few more posts for later this month. So no matter your feelings on Valentine’s Day, I send all my readers a bit of love. As does our girl Austen here:

Look at all the love she has to give, guys. So much love.

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Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen (A Good Love Story Series #2)

9 Feb

It’s been a few days and chances are you are getting progressively more and more sick of Valentine’s Day ads and stores everywhere encrusted with red and pink tchatchkes and people complaining about being single/bragging about being in a relationship. I’ve been there, I get it. But, if only for history’s sake, take a look at Sense and Sensibility if you haven’t already. Considered a parody of the early 19th century romance novel, it may just be witty enough to keep you sane as you walk by the selection of approximately 2904328578 boxes of chocolate in your local drug store.

Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen

Published: 1811

Quick Read?: Yes, this is pretty quick.

Difficulty?: Not really. The most difficult parts are long explanations of inheritance and marriage law at this time. But it is important, and otherwise the book is quite straightforward.

Synopsis: Three sisters, Marianne, Elinor, and Margaret find themselves in a precarious position when their father dies and their brother takes all of the considerably large inheritance for himself. Now reduced to far less extravagant circumstances, the sisters find themselves living in a small cottage near their relative, Sir John Middleton. Elinor is the eldest sister and the most rational, but must deal with their new acquaintance, Colonel Brandon, and his affections for her (a man in his 30’s! Shocking!). Marianne, however, is the younger sister, full of emotional and “sensibility” (which at this time meant a kind of feminine emotional hysterics. Lovely.), and she falls for Willoughby, a kind gentleman whom she soon falls absolutely gaga for, much to Elinor’s annoyance. Elinor tries to conduct herself without feeling, which causes Colonel Brandon to back away, making her realize her own feelings. Marianne throws herself at Willoughby, only to watch him go off to London and marry another woman. Though both sisters seek happiness, how could they ever come to terms with reason and emotion, sense and sensibility? (couldn’t help it, guys.)

Why read this book? This novel is considered one of Austen’s more ironic–it very much plays with the silly, “sensible” romance novels that were popular with women during this time period. The extreme polar opposites of Elinor and Marianne reflect a real struggle at the time for women, especially those who wanted to be educated: does one listen to one’s heart and show emotion, only to not be taken as seriously? Or does one reserve all emotion and seem unfeeling, only to alienate oneself from others seeing the real person inside? It’s still a timeless issue, and one that is still thought of constantly today.

It’s also, in my humble opinion, one of the funniest books I’ve read by Austen (though admittedly I’ve only read some of her works). The sisters working as complete opposites here is compelling, and the ways in which they interact with each other don’t necessarily come off as cheesy, as many more recent books that copy a similar storyline become. Austen really does show the dangers of both sense and sensibility, and puts both ideas up for contrast, not just two opposite characters.

Some neat-o facts: 

We want a lady on the street, and a writer who is "A Lady" but you know, not named or anything.

  • Austen originally published Sense and Sensibility under “A Lady” rather than her own name. Women writers where not taken quite as seriously at this time.
  • Though Austen wrote romantic works, she was considered a “realist” writers, in that her books were starkly detailed and set in real-life places and situations. I guess one might argue that romance CAN be real, then?
  • Very little is known about Jane’s life because asked for many of her papers and letters to be burned upon  her (unfortunately young) death. For that reason, most of what we know about her is through her family members. A cause of intrigue if you ask me! And, you know, actual literary scholars.

If you like this, try: Pride and Prejudice or Persuasion by Austen; David Copperfield by Chales Dickens; Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (A Good Love Story Series #1)

5 Feb

Well folks. Like it or not, it’s February, and Valentine’s Day isn’t too far away. Whether you’re single, “it’s complicated,” have a significant other, or just like to rant and rave about the consumerist B.S. that surrounds this holiday, try and tell me you don’t love a love story. We all do, in some way, shape, or form (I won’t take any answer but that). So until Valentine’s Day, I’m paying homage to some classic romantic (and Romantic, capital R) books. Whether or not you want to rekindle your belief in love or just absorb yourself in a place with love (hopefully) reigns, it seemed appropriate to look to Miss Jane Austen to start this series off. It’s hard not to swoon over the infamous love story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, so do be sure to give it a shot this winter.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Published: 1813

Quick Read?: Yes.

Difficulty: There is some older language, but Austen’s plot moves rather quickly and smoothly, so it won’t slow you down too much.

Synopsis: Elizabeth Bennett is not the most delicate, fair, or desirable young lady in England. It’s not that she’s not beautiful or intelligent, but as a young aristocrat she does feel she can understand and judge those around her quickly and easily. But her judgement is thrown for a loop with the appearance of the dark and brooding Mr. Darcy, who Elizabeth immediately judges as “too proud.” She finds herself around him often though because her sister has started to court Bingley, an extremely rich man who comes through town. Yet Mr. Bingley leaves quickly and Elizabeth’s family threatens to fall apart, she must revisit her judgement of others as Mr. Darcy comes in to possibly save her life as she knows it.

Why read this book?: Austen is a controversial character, but her novels are still read widely today by women all over the world because they really are timeless. The love story of falling in love with someone you also can’t stand is a common motif in books and movies today, and harkening back to the original story is certainly a fantastic ride. The characters don’t feel old-fashioned for the most part, even if the portrayals of British societal standards might. The themes of too much pride and too much prejudice still apply today, which is an impressive feat for a book that is almost 200 years old (Way to go Austen! I’d like to say she planned it, but I doubt it).

Also, looking at love, marriage, family, and money in the early 19th century is certainly intriguing. The idea of honor and dishonor brought upon oneself as a woman, and one’s family, is pretty interesting. Any implication of wrongdoing or misdeed was enough to ruin everything, something that does not exist as much today. So if you want to feel the romance against all odds this Valentine’s Day season, check this book out for sure!

Some neat-o facts:

Jane Austen

There's pride in the way Austen is dressed and prejudice hidden in those eyes.

  • Austen was the daughter of a clergyman, and worked with the poor a lot. Because of this, many people critiqued her for only writing about well-to-do people. I don’t know if I blame her though…the drama is a bit more fun and superfluous. What do you think?
  • There are some pretty wonderful adaptations of this book as a film done by the BBC and elsewhere. Watch if you love romance! Avoid if you hate Valentine’s Day to begin with.
  • While many feminists have criticized Austen for her female characters always revolving around men and their actions, many would argue that that was a reflection of the times, and that most of women’s fate did revolve around marriage, childbirth, and motherhood. If you have an opinion of your own, do let me know in the comments!

If you like this, try: Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, or Mansfield Park by Austen; Middlemarch by George Eliot; Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.