While I’ve been away from my blog this entire year, I’ve read 57 books out of my goal of 75. My first post of the many books I read will cover all the books I read by and about Jane Austen this year. You may be wondering why I spontaneously decided to read (almost) the entirety of Austen works. It was not spontaneous at all, I took my most favorite class out of all the classes I took these past four years this spring. The class was an Honors Colloquium course on Jane Austen. We spent the semester reading, discussing, and watching Jane Austen. It was wonderful. I love historical romances, especially those that take place in England and Scotland prior to the 20th century. Forgive me if my reviews are vague, since it has been many months since I last read these books.
Prior to taking the Austen class, I had never heard of this piece. I remember liking this story because of the overly exaggerated drama of the tale. Written as a satirical epistolary, the story demonstrated the ridiculous mannerisms of woman in this period.
While entertaining, this short story offered little substance for the reader. I liked it enough, but it was a bit too exaggerated for my taste.
This book, also written in an epistolary format, was very enjoyable. The author writes about an aunt giving advice to her niece through the works of Austen.
One aspect of this novel I particularly enjoyed was when the author discusses the City of Invention. A place where all of literature has a physical structure that embodies the story. As a recent architecture graduate, this appealed to me greatly.
Overall I liked the novel, it was historically informative and an easy read.
This novel was the only Austen work I had read before taking the course. To see my review on this novel you can check out a review I wrote about it the year before here.
This novel revealed to me two aspects that I initially disliked about Austen’s works. The first and most important is the lack of romantic detail. Austen glances over the scenes I am dying to know. The second aspect is that Austen gives extensive detail to setting. She spent more time detailing the Cleveland estate than telling the reader about Elinor’s proposal.
While I disliked these aspects in the beginning, I grew to appreciate that at least Austen did not need to sexualize things in order for it to be a good story.
This novel revealed to me Austen’s trait of having quickly resolved conclusions. Instead of giving lush detail about how happy the future will be, she bluntly states the facts of who does what.
Besides that I enjoyed the curious nature of the heroine, Catherine Morland. Her interesting imagination gets her into a couple unsavory situations.
I loved Mansfield Park’s heroine Fanny Price. Mostly because I can relate to her the most compared to Austen’s other heroines. Fanny Price is an unusual character, at least for a protagonist. She is reserved, morally rigid, and physically fragile. Additionally, she is the first heroine I have come across of Austen’s to grow up away from home. When comparing a character like Fanny to Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, these atypical attributes stand out. While Elizabeth is outgoing and willing to give her opinion on an array of matters, Fanny is the quietest character. Oftentimes the reader forgets of Fanny’s existence in a scene because it focuses much more on the many other characters. Not only do the readers lose track of Miss Price, but so do the characters in the novel.
I am quite similar to Fanny. Both she and I are introverts. We struggle to standout and show our emotions. Also like Fanny, I am not afraid to stand against something when I do not agree with. For example, when everyone else was eager to put on the play, Fanny was adamant that she would not act in it, despite being pressured from all sides. Although many argue that Mansfield Park is Austen’s worst novel, I disagree. This novel opens us up to a non-conventional heroine. Instead of one who is outspoken and strong, we have a heroine who is more human, who has flaws.
Jane Austen: A Life
While interesting with all its historic facts, Tomalin’s biography is a bit dry throughout the text. I appreciate all the research and information presented to the readers, but I feel it could have been worded better to draw the reader in and keep them interested. I believe I fell asleep a couple of times trying to get through this one.
Emma is probably my least favorite heroine. She was so self-absorbed it irritated me. I was honestly hoping that she would end up with a worse ending than she did, because of her character.
While I did not like Emma, I did like Mr. Knightley, our hero. He came across as very human in the novel, he knew Emma so well that he could figure out how to make her feel guilty.
He played a nice contrast to Emma’s selfishness.
Out of all the works I’ve read of Austen’s, Persuasion is my favorite. I think it is because this novel has more drama than the rest. The looked down upon younger sister comes out on top. It also has the oldest heroine, renewing her lost love. I have always been a sucker for a rekindled love story, so I absolutely loved this one.
I like Jane Austen. I love lists. This book was great. Enough said.
Honestly I don’t remember much about these unfinished tales, just that I did not like them very much. They made me realize how much refining went into Austen’s published works.
As my first book post, after my long hiatus, I feel I accomplished a lot here. Here are 11 out of the 57 books I’ve read so far this year.