With the sun setting early in the horizon, temperatures slowly taking a tumble downwards and nature limiting the social side of the human race, I thought I should put forward the best option of spending some snuggly time with these 5 classic Jane Austen novels. So, whether it is an evening after work and dinner or a lazy day off from work or simply spending a chilly autumn afternoon in your cosy nook these books are sure to fill your heart with warmth.
Jane Austen’s novels have ruled hearts of many readers for over two centuries now which is absolutely incredible. I feel, her stories still feel so fresh and fit into a modern setting. Her heroines always have a standing of their own regardless of the fact whether they are physically frail or financially dependent. Through her novels Jane Austen gives a vivid painting of how life was during the early 19th century, of the success and wealth of the landed gentry, of the class divide and the changes that were happening around at that time. You may choose to read them in any order, but my preference would be Pride & Prejudice or Persuasion. And if you are a person who loves being chronological, then Sense & Sensibility was Austen’s first published novel.
This famous novel by Jane Austen is an all-time favourite of many. Over the years it has been adapted into dramas, movies, soaps across different countries and languages. It is the story of this family of Mr & Mrs Bennet who has five daughters in the early 1800 England. The main protagonist Elizabeth or Lizzy is the intelligent, sensible, witty, and charming second daughter of the family. This is a love story that overcomes the prejudices of our heroine and the pride of our handsome hero - Darcy and one with a happy ending. It is about marrying for love rather than for money or social prestige. This novel also gives a wonderful glimpse of early 19th century English society of novel manners and class distinctions. Jane Austen’s heroine definitely does not conform to the one that would’ve been considered ‘ladylike’ amongst the nobles or aristocrats and probably that is why her character appeals to readers even to this day.
When I first read this novel, I must’ve been in high school and the ways of England and English society were truly foreign, but weaves of the societal norms for women were not much different than in India of that period. The importance of marriage in the life of a young woman and the kind of consequences she has to face if this isn’t achieved has been portrayed in probably all of her novels. For women of that era, marriage was a matter of social status. I found it quite intriguing that women of marriageable age in this era had to be introduced to the society at the ‘Balls’ and that these were social events for networking as well as for young people to choose their future partners! Does arranged marriage sound familiar here…(to all my Indian friends). I am not a literary pundit but all in all this is a feel good, period, romantic novel that you will want to read again and again.
This one makes for a light read; you will fall in love with her character even if you find her mischievous, rich, and slightly spoilt young woman. She is intelligent yet sometimes lacks in understanding the depth of a situation. Emma believes she has an extraordinarily innate quality of matchmaking unmarried singles in her society. She has a genuine care in her heart for the poor but at the same time has a strong appreciation of the class status. The story unravels as to how her imaginations and perceptions were proven wrong and her meddling with other people’s lives causes misunderstandings and broken hearts. She had vowed to remain single to take care of her father but enjoys making matches for others. In the end sense and understanding prevails and she sees what true love is. I am sure you will be able to relate at least one such character that you probably have come across in real life.
‘Sense and sensibility’ a story of the journey of two sisters Elinor and Marianne of the Dashwood family, their struggles, and tactics to achieve respectability. After the death of Mr Dashwood, the family fell into hardships because of the neglect of his heir, their half-brother. The two sisters along with their mother Mrs Dashwood and their youngest sister Margaret had to move to a much smaller cottage with an economical income. Sense and Sensibility represents the two characters of Elinor and Marianne, who are at the opposite end of the personality spectrum. Elinor is ‘sensible’, prudent, and capable of exercising self-restraint while Marianne is more passionate and impulsive. Marianne wears her heart on her sleeves, she errs in love and over the course of time learns to curb her passionate nature in the interests of survival. Elinor too overcomes her shy, discreet nature and in the end marry the man she loved. Life maybe is more interesting when you have a dose of both sense and sensibility and a balance between them!
You will love this satirical, witty and at times humorous representation of characters, manners and depiction of the 19th century middle class life.
The heroine of this novel is Fanny Price who was sort of given away by her parents to be under the care of her wealthy Uncle and Aunt, Sir Thomas Bertram, and Lady Bertram. Fanny Price grows up to be modest, straightforward and a woman with a strict moral code. The Bertram’s had four children, two sons Tom and Edmund and two daughters, Maria, and Julia. Maria and Julia were self-absorbed with hollow personalities, and Tom was a self-indulgent young man who later mended his ways. Edmund was a serious balanced young man who was to be a clergyman. Fanny grew up with her cousins and Edmund in particular was very kind, and considerate giving her advice, consolation, and encouragement. The novel explores ideas of moral and religious obligations, of what is valued; is it the superficial charm or depth of character; is it money or how it is derived and what you do with it. In the end Fanny Price was happy at the way things turned out for everyone!
Persuasion is the most romantic of Jane Austen’s novels. It is about love lost and found by the protagonist Miss Anne Elliot. Anne is one of the quietest but also one of the strongest of Jane Austen’s heroines. Eight years earlier she was persuaded not to marry Captain Frederick who had no fortune. Anne was all of 19 years, young and naïve back then and now more than seven years later Captain Wentworth returns and is an eligible suitor with money and social acceptability. Anne discovers that her feelings for the captain had not diminished in strength. But does Wentworth feel the same, is he still unmarried or unattached?
Losing yourself in a great novel is one of life’s joys and these classic Jane Austen novels are sure to give that in plenty. Happy Reading!
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