Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I’m embarrassed to admit that I’ve never read Pride and Prejudice given how enduringly popular it is, probably even more suprising is that despite vague memories of the BBC adaptation starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth, I knew very little about the story before reading it. The premise is that the five Bennet sisters are seeking to marry well in order to avoid destitution when their father dies as his home is due to be inherited by the nearest male relative in line.

It’s hard not to like the older sisters, Jane and Elizabeth; Jane is kind, forgiving and thinks the best of everyone, while Lizzie is lively, opinionated and I admired her refusal to settle for a loveless marriage (though at times I was also convinced she’d end up homeless and penniless because of it!), and how I cringed for them every time their mother or younger sisters embarrassed them in public.

There’s quite a large cast of characters, some of them comical and some of them downright scheming as they attempt to secure their own marriages and fortunes, but far from being a historical rom-com, it impressed upon me how few options women without means had during the Regency-era. There’s a fair amount of meddling, misunderstandings and personal pride and prejudices to overcome before any of them can live happily ever after.

Although slower-paced and very different from the novels I usually read, I was swept along by this delightful story. Even knowing the ending, there were times when I genuinely wondered how the characters would ever find their way there as they navigated all the obstacles in their way. I don’t read many classics but Pride and Prejudice is such an absorbing, witty and comforting story that it’s not at all hard to see why it’s such an enduring favourite and one that I thoroughly enjoyed. Have a lovely week! X

Review of ‘Northanger Abbey’ by Jane Austen

image1-4

I feel unworthy of reviewing Jane Austen as I’m embarrassed to admit that until now I had only read one of her novels (Persuasion at school) but determined to fill in some of the more obvious gaps in my literary knowledge, I picked up a copy of Northanger Abbey.

Northanger Abbey was the first novel Jane Austen completed, but it languished with a publisher for over a decade before being returned to the author, and sadly it was published just a few months after her dealth.

Northanger Abbey follows Catherine Morland, an unlikely but likeable heroine with a weakness for gothic horror novels such as Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udopho. The plot trots along, though Northanger Abbey itself doesn’t feature until halfway through the story. The first half of the novel is set in Bath where Catherine meets her charming and witty hero, Henry Tilney, and the antagonists, Isabella and John Thorpe, before she is invited to visit the Tilney family’s home, Northanger Abbey.

I won’t give too much away, Northanger Abbey is not the haunted, gothic ruin that Catherine expects but that doesn’t stop her imagination from getting the better of her, and Austen creates an air of mystery and suspense during parts of the story.

This is a novel that doesn’t take itself too seriously, it’s satirical and unpretentious, but still manages to elicit sympathy for the characters when misfortunes befall them. If this novel has a fault, it is that Catherine is too sweet-natured, naïve and forgiving, while the antagonists are in contrast too selfish, conceited and devious.

Northanger Abbey seems to be often overlooked compared to Austen’s other novels but it’s easy to read and thoroughly enjoyable. I thought it was perfect reading material for a cosy night in and a lovely introduction to Jane Austen’s works.