September 18, 2008

My Favorite Author: Jane Austen

I have two favorite authors. Three, really, if you could combine all the 19th century Russian authors into one person, but I don't think you can. I'll be writing about Jane Austen today and my other favorite author next week (and no, I won't tell you who that is until then).

I know Jane Austen is "in" right now, but I try not to let her popularity get in the way of my enjoyment. After all, these novels have been around for 200 years, so her current popularity says something about the timelessness of her novels.

I fell in love with Jane Austen's writings 4 years and have since read all of her 6 major works. And watched the movies of 5 of them. Not that we're talking about movies here. I'll get back to the books.

I first read Pride and Prejudice when I was in high school. I didn't like it. I thought it was boring. The only explanation I can offer is I was never told that a classic could be funny. I simply didn't get the humor, not even noticing it was there. Also, I had just started reading classics so I was still getting used to the writing style of old. I reread P&P at the suggestion of a friend. And loved it. So I've read it 2 more times since then.

Sense and Sensibility is strangely the last of Jane Austen's major works that I read. That said, it was my favorite. Yes, that means I like it more than P&P. I think it's primarily because I relate to the two sisters, Elinor and Marianne, in a way I never related to any of the Bennett sisters. Oh, and if I could marry any of literary character it would be Colonel Brandon. I'm just saying.

Northanger Abbey is another good Jane Austen book, though most don't consider it on par with the others. She wrote it earlier than the others, it's characters are more youthful and flighty, and the storyline is more comedic than dramatic. Regardless, of all the Austen heroines, Northanger Abbey's Catherine Morland, in all her book-loving ways, is the one I relate to the most. And I laughed all the way through this book.

Emma is a classic Jane Austen book, and the story is familiar to many (especially since Clueless is based on it...though I still haven't seen that movie!). I don't like it as much as the three I've already talked about, but it is still great. I cringe when I read (or watch the movie) when Emma sticks her foot in her mouth. Austen is not above showing her characters' flaws! Emma, unlike the other Austen ladies, does not need to pursue marriage herself as she is well off, but she works rather unsuccessfully to be a matchmaker for her less fortunate friend.

Persuasion is the book that I've forgotten the most. I have no idea what made it not stick in my mind, but I entirely forgot the plot until I recently saw the movie. I do want to read it again because I do think it's a good book. But maybe it's not and that's why I forgot.

Mansfield Park, on the other hand, I can confidently say I didn't like. I really like the 1999 movie adaption, but they changed it a lot to make it palatable. The original Fanny Price, the main character, isn't likable at all, and I found this book to be rather boring.

So if you're wanting to take the plunge into Austen-mania, I would suggest either Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility. I think the story of the latter is easier to follow and is more enjoyable, but if you have seen one of the P&P movies, you have enough background to follow that book.

Alright, stay tuned for other Book Nookers' favorite authors!


  1. I agree with you about Catharine. I could really relate to her situation in life and her romanticism. How she thought going to an Abbey would be so very romantic and imagined so many mysteries that weren't even there.

    I first read P&P when I was 12 and didn't get it then either. I kept reading it over and over because it was my mom's favorite book, and it ended up becoming one of mine too.

  2. I'm embarrassed to admit but I have never read any of Jane Austen's books. I always read how great they are and am almost afraid of not liking them.

  3. Love Pride and Prejudice. Hate Emma. Love Persuasion. Love Northanger Abbey. Hate Mansfield Park.

    How's that for succinct?!

  4. I love Jane Austen, too! I agree about Mansfield Park, that I didn't really like Fanny and parts of it were boring. Overall, though, I liked it. I haven't read Northanger Abbey or Persuasion yet, but I hope to get to those soon!

    --Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

  5. Gotta agree with you on this one, except that I also enjoyed Emma. And you definitely need to see Clueless. It is a completely hilarious update of Emma. Really terrific, and one of my favorite movies. And probably the reason why I enjoy the book so much :)

  6. Persuasion happens to be my favorite Austen. I reread all of Austen's works (including her lesser known pieces Sandition, Lady Susan, etc.) every year and each time I am reminded why I love her writing so much and I seem to discover new things that I missed in my previous readings.

    I've gotten a friend of mine hook on Jane Austen by suggesting that she start her exploration with something other than Pride & Prejudice. Most people are forced to read it in high school and hate it. I told her to start with Persuasion and then Sense & Sensibility and now she can't read Jane Austen fast enough. :-)


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