April 11, 2014 by Bernadette ~ The Bumbling Bookworm
I LOVE Jane Austen. I love her books, I love the bookish adaptations, I love it all 🙂 So, for my post today I thought I’d do mini reviews of her books that I’ve read so far. I didn’t see the point in doing full on reviews for each of these, as I don’t think I have much to add to the general debate, so I’ll just be giving some of my thoughts.
Vanity, not love, has been my folly.
When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited, while he struggles to remain indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life.
I love love love love love love love this book. I read it at least once a year, it’s one of those classics I return to time and time again. In fact, I’m due for a read now, it’s been a while! It’s such an enjoyable read, it makes me laugh every time I read it 🙂 The characters are amazing and Austen’s descriptions of the setting have made me want to travel through England so I can see it for myself.
I adore Elizabeth Bennet and I very much relate to her – I’m the type that judges first and corrects those judgments later on… whoopsies! I love Darcy in all his misunderstood ways, he’s so socially awkward! Clearly, money isn’t everything and it doesn’t make you more at ease with the people around you. Aside from the beautiful Jane, the Bennet family are so embarrassing almost 100 percent of the time!. The avoiding father, the dimwitted ‘nervous’ mother and her equally dimwitted daughters in Lydia and Kitty, and the know-it-all daughter Mary; at some time or another they embarrass themselves and their family, often unknowingly, and have their own helping hand with Darcy’s intervention with Jane and Bingley. As for Bingley, I never was much of a fan – I always felt that he took too long to grow a pair and stand up for himself! He’s nothing compared to Mr Collins, though – that man is enough to drive a person to drink!
Whilst many of the customs in the book might be outdated, it is still as valid a social commentary now as it was when it was first published in 1813. It is a testament to Jane Austen that this book is so popular even now when it is over 200 years old. It remains a classic and is loved by generations, and has successfully been translated to the visual medium for even more enjoyment. The BBC miniseries remains my favourite, and I don’t think there will ever be a better Darcy than Colin Firth. I dare you to tell me otherwise! I leave you with a quote that I think is quite apt:
I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.
Rating: 5 Stars
‘The more I know of the world, the more am I convinced that I shall never see a man whom I can really love. I require so much!’
Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor’s warning that her impulsive behaviour leaves her open to gossip and innuendo. Meanwhile Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment, even from those closest to her. Through their parallel experience of love—and its threatened loss—the sisters learn that sense must mix with sensibility if they are to find personal happiness in a society where status and money govern the rules of love.
Whilst I didn’t enjoy this one as much as Pride and Prejudice, I’ve still always loved Sense and Sensibility and the story it tells. Elinor is a pillar of strength, she’d do anything for her family and puts everybody else’s needs above her own. She swallows down her disappointment at the turn her romantic endeavours take and pushes on, although she is clearly very much heartbroken.
Marianne, on the other hand, is selfish and prone to overt displays of affection far beyond that which is suitable for the times. As much as I loved Elinor, I couldn’t stand Marianne! The staid and serious Colonel Brandon clearly loves her, but she keeps throwing herself at that good-for-nothing Willoughby because she’s more interested in having fun. Silly girl.
I loved the journey this book took me on, and I really must read it again, it’s been far too long since I last did so. My only criticism is that it all wrapped up a little bit too quickly and conveniently, in a nice tidy bow. Given how long the rest of the book was, I just felt like the end was a little bit rushed and particularly convenient in the case of certain characters. I shall leave you with a quote I love:
I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.
Rating: 4 Stars
‘We have all been more or less to blame… every one of us, excepting Fanny’
Taken from the poverty of her parents’ home, Fanny Price is brought up with her rich cousins at Mansfield Park, acutely aware of her humble rank and with only her cousin Edmund as an ally. When Fanny’s uncle is absent in Antigua, Mary Crawford and her brother Henry arrive in the neighbourhood, bringing with them London glamour and a reckless taste for flirtation. As her female cousins vie for Henry’s attention, and even Edmund falls for Mary’s dazzling charms, only Fanny remains doubtful about the Crawfords’ influence and finds herself more isolated than ever. A subtle examination of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austen’s most profound works.
The last book of Jane Austen’s that I’ve read and my least favourite. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but it wasn’t to the same extent that I enjoyed the other two.
I think I particularly struggled with the relationship between first cousins, with Fanny spending much of the book pining in her own way for Edmund, who happens to be her first cousin… All I could think when I read those bits was “yuck!” – to be fair, I was about 15 years old at the time I first read this! I also found Fanny to be a bit weak, and while I undertood why it grated on my nerves a bit. I didn’t mind Edmund most of the time, but he could be so clueless and at times I just wanted to shake him! As for the Crawfords, I couldn’t stand them and I couldn’t understand why the Bartrams loved them so much. Of course, I’m not a snob like the Bartrams, so that could be why I didn’t share their views! I hated the way they treated Fanny, but I loved the scandal that unfolded, it was glorious!
I would be interested to reread this one in the not so distant future, to see if my recollection remains the same. It’s been at least 9 years since I last read it, and I have matured significantly in my reading and what I enjoy. However, I don’t know that I’ll ever mature enough to get over reading about a girl pining away for her first cousin! Here’s one of the quotes I liked from Mansfield Park:
There will be little rubs and disappointments everywhere, and we are all apt to expect too much; but then, if one scheme of happiness fails, human nature turns to another; if the first calculation is wrong, we make a second better: we find comfort somewhere.
Rating: 3.5 Stars
So there you have it! My Jane Austen mini-reviews 🙂 Perhaps I’ll do another of these in the future, once I’ve read her other books of course!