Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Sanditon, Lady Susan, & The History of England, Jane Austen

Sandition, Lady Susan, etc., Jane AustenSanditon, Lady Susan, & The History of England by Jane Austen

First Published: Posthumously – Writen c.1786-1817

Pages: 504 (Hardback)
Form: Collection of juvenilia, short stories, and unfinished novels

Rating: 3/53/53/53/53/5

This rare collection is a must for all Jane-ites. It represents what Richard Church regarded as Jane Austen’s literary work-basket, and contains some of Austen’s earliest work – her hilariously brief History of England, illustrated by her favourite sister, which is a worthy forerunner to 1066 & All That, to the unfinished Sanditon, the novel of her maturity on which she was working at her death aged 42. Also included are two epistolary novels, Lady Susan and Love and Freindship (sic), The Watsons, Catherine, Lesley Castle, Evelyn, Frederic and Elfrida, Jack and Alice, Edgar and Emma, Henry and Eliza and The Three Sisters.

The History of England is illustrated by Cassandra Austen

While I  thought Lady Susan was absolutely greatI would probably only recommend  Austen’s juvenilia and her later unfinished novel to people who are really interested in Austen and her development as a writer. Personally (and although a fan I’m not an Austen worshiper) I thought the juvenilia was absolutely fascinating and would have loved to see the finished versions of the two abandoned novels. If that sort of thing doesn’t interest you, though, and you want a completed story then just go for Lady Susan or give this book a miss completely and stick with Austen’s published novels. Continue reading

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Persuasion, Jane Austen

Persuasion, Jane AustenPersuasion by Jane Austen

First Published: 1818
Pages: 312 (Hardback)
Form: Novel

Rating:

Jane Austen’s final novel is the story of Anne Elliot, a woman who gets a second chance. As a teenager she becomes engaged to a man who seems perfect for her, Frederick Wentworth. But she is persuaded to break the engagement off by her friend Lady Russel, who believes he is too poor to be a suitable match. The episode plunges Anne into a period of bleak disappointment. Eight years later, Frederick returns from the Napoleonic Wars flushed with success. Anne’s circumstances have also changed; her father’s spendthrift ways means he has been forced to lease the home to a naval family.  Will Anne and Frederick rediscover their love? Can their changed fortunes inhibit their feelings? Persuasion is a story of self-knowledge and personal regeneration, of social change and emotional politics.

I’ve been meaning to reread Persuasion for ages. It’s the last of Austen’s novels and the first time I read it was during a bit of an Austen binge (all her major novels, back to back, in order of publication) and thus was feeling a bit romanced-out by the time I got round to this one and didn’t really ‘click’ with it.  I’ve always suspected that my ambivalence towards it back then was a little unfair and that a reread would improve my opinion, and I’m happy to say that I was right. It’s still not my favourite Austen but I did really really enjoy it and predict at least a couple more rereads in the future (which is a lot more than can be said about Mansfield Park). Continue reading

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Top 5: Jane Austen adaptations

TV and film companies love Austen. Maybe it’s the enduring appeal of the novels, maybe it’s the huge in-built audience of Austen fans that’ll guarantee success, maybe they just like the clothing, or maybe they’re just too damn lazy to find and utilise less known novels. Who knows? Either way, it means that the market place is flooded with films, tv series, plays, webisodes – period versions, modern-day versions, Bollywood versions, time travelling versions, versions with zombies… (and that’s just for one book!) basically pretty much any ‘twist’ you can think of.

Well before I read any Austen for myself I had seen TV and film adaptations of most of her books, some good some…not so good. Here are just 5 of my favourites – and yes, they are mostly (but not all) period versions, maybe later I’ll put together a list of my favourite modern-day versions but for today it’ my all time favourites and these are simply the ones I love the most. Continue reading

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Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen

Northanger Abbey, Jane Austen Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

First Published: 1818 (posthumously)
Pages: 301 including afterword (Hardback)
Form: Novel

Rating:5/5 = I loved it5/5 = I loved it5/5 = I loved it5/5 = I loved it5/5 = I loved it

Northanger Abbey is the story of Catherine Morland, an enthusiastic but naïve girl intent on becoming a heroine like the one she has read about in popular novels. Searching for romance and adventures worthy of her favourite works of fiction, she becomes ever more entangled in an authentic world of manipulation, greed, and disloyalty. This is one of Jane Austen’s earliest and most varied works. It contains fascinating insights into her life as both a reader and a writer, and is as imaginative and entertaining as the Gothic novels it sets out to lampoon.

Probably my favourite Austen. A re-read for an online book group, but a book I’ve been meaning to reread for a while anyway. It’s the least polished of Austen’s novels – the pacing feels a bit off in the second half and the ending feels quite rushed – so I was originally going to give it either four or four and half stars to reflect that, but actually, flawed as it is, I can’t help absolutely adoring it.

Continue reading

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Top 5: Book to TV Adaptations

So I was a bit busy at the end of April to get a ‘Top 5’ post up…better late than never though. From now on I’ll make more of an effort to get them pre-written in time to go up on first sunday of each month.

This month, to belatedly celebrate the return of Game of Thrones, it’s book to TV adaptations. Now there is a lot of great TV adapted from books, so I am rather limiting myself in only picking 5 –  especially as there are lots that I haven’t seen and I’m ignoring series I have seen but are based on books I haven’t read (thus disqualifying The Jewel in the Crown, North and South, Daniel Deronda, Little Dorrit and a whole host of other really wonderful stuff).

I’m certain there is plenty of stuff that’s objectively far better quality than some of my picks here but these are all TV series that hold a special place in my heart that I could (and in some cases do) watch again and again. So judge away, argue with my choices and, please, do recommend others – but don’t expect me to change my mind on any of these.

So here it goes – Louise’s list of top 5 TV adaptations (from newest to oldest) Continue reading

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Welcome

Not that I expect anybody but me to read this but hello and welcome to anyone who is!

I’m Louise, and in this blog I’ll be attempting to review each and every book I read this year. I don’t claim that I’ll be any good at it – I’ve not studied English Literature since school. I do, however, love reading and enjoy discussing books and find that there is almost nothing more frustrating than being asked a question about something I’ve read a long time ago and not being able to say anything about it.

After several terrible conversations over the holidays with my sister where I totally failed to articulate why I liked/disliked certain books, and several much more rewarding conversations on books I’d read more recently or had left more marked impressions on me,  I decided to start this blog. I’m hoping that putting time aside specifically for thinking over a book and getting those thoughts down on paper  (or rather screen) will help me articulate them better to myself and prevent me from shouting ‘I just didn’t like it, ok?’ when someone keeps pressing me as to why I hate some wildly popular novel.

Although my main intent in writing this blog is to properly form my own opinions before moving onto my next book instead of just churning my way through them, if anyone is reading this and wants to disagree or discuss anything I end up writing I’d really welcome that. As I said, I do love a bit of literary discussion and am always interested to hear dissenting opinions and listen to interpretations that had never occurred to me before. You may even change my mind about something.

I aim to update this blog after I finish each book but I am not setting myself a strict timetable for reading some books may take no time to read, others may take ages, sometimes I may find myself far too busy with uni work to read at all, so updates will likely be at random intervals. Occasionally I might also throw in a review of a TV/Film adaptation or audiobook  if the mood takes me.

Now, despite having read a lot of interesting books in 2011 that I would love to discuss I am not going to review these books – too much time has passed since I actually read them for me to feel comfortable doing so, I will doubtless get some details wrong. The time I do have to read I want to be spending on new books. I will however put up a few of my key questions from 2011’s reading for anyone because I think there are several worthy of discussion if people are interested.

Jane Austen: I read all of her completed novels over the summer so sadly unless I do a reread at some point will not be reviewing any of these

  • Which is your favourite Jane Austen book and why? (I’m undecided. Northanger Abbey was really different and I definitely enjoyed all of them but I think I’m going to have to be really boring and go with Pride and Prejudice)
  • Is Fanny Price a likable character? (I can’t be the only one who finds her insufferable, can I?)
  • Does the Emma Thompson film do a better job of reconciling you to Marianne’s ‘happy ending’ in Sense and Sensibility than the book did? (I really think it does, how much that’s to do with my old-man-crush on Alan Rickman I’m not sure, but I found the way her ending was dealt with in the book very uncomfortable.)

The Three Musketeers, Alexandre Dumas:

  • Was Milady de Winter’s fate truly deserved? (Another ending that left me very very uncomfortable.)
  • Can a modern reader find Athos admirable, or even likable? (I certainly couldn’t and found him more of a monster than the villains of the book)
  • How do you ensure that you find the best possible translation? What makes a decent translation? Is finding an ‘uncensored’ translation that doesn’t hack away bits more important than finding the most ‘readable’?

The Millennium Trilogy, Stieg Larseon: I found this very readable but had some very serious issues with certain aspects

  • Can we really lap up Lisbeth Sandler and Mikael Blomkvist’s extremely unethical journalism without question while at the same time being outraged by News of the World?
  • Why could no character validly disagree with Blomkvist without later turning out to be violent, a rapist, or both? 
  • Did anyone care at all for Blomkvist’s love life? Is it really important that he shags every attractive female character? Seems like wish fulfilment.
  • Do we need an English Language remake of a film so soon after an internationally successful version in the original language? Is it aimed at the people who saw the first or those that didn’t go because it was foreign?
  • Am I taking a page-turner too seriously?

Other Books:

  • In historical fiction does a purely fictional character influencing a real person or event break or enhance your suspension of disbelief? (I think this is definitely a personal preference thing. I certainly found my sense of immersion completely shattered in the otherwise fairly enjoyable Star of the Sea by Joseph O’Connor when a character gave Dickens the idea and plot of Oliver Twist in an aside that really had nothing to do with anything in the main story and found myself having trouble getting back into the book after that.)
  • Short stories or novels? Which do you enjoy more and why? What short story authors would you recommend?
  • Is it ok to send a book straight to a charity shop without finishing or should you give it a second chance? (I read two books this year I found really hard to get into, The Sunday Morning Philosophy Club was so awful it went straight to the British Heart Foundation but the second, Visitation by Jenny Erpenbeck, I found myself absolutely loving once I gave myself a month off and started afresh.)
  • Is it better to read a book before the TV/film adaptation or to read the book afterwards? (I’ve always tried to follow the ‘book first’ pattern but after really enjoying HBO’s Game of Thrones I find myself owning all the paperback books in the series but wanting to wait until after the relevant TV season has aired for maximum enjoyment of both TV and novel)

Ok…so that was a lot more issues than I planned on raising, especially when I don’t have a readership yet, but there you go. Hopefully it’ll give you an idea of the sort of things I’ll be picking up on and the sorts of books I’ll be reading – though I like to think I’m pretty varied in my tastes.

First few reviews should be up in the next few days – Aesop’s Fables, Hans Christian Anderson’s Fairy Tales, and volume 16 of Fables (comic book). Expect Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift sometime after that, only just started it.

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