It’s been a while (a long while) since I’ve read any Jane Austen, but it’s one of the things on my list of classics/required reading to catch up on. I grabbed Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon on one of my book binges and moved it closer to the top of the stack.
In Northanger Abbey, Austen starts with a scathing description of Catherine Morland, a young woman from a small town who doesn’t have quite the same accomplishments as her richer counterparts. But when she’s invited to go to Bath with a neighbor, she’s catapulted into a whole new world. Catherine makes friends quickly and is invited to visit Northanger Abbey with her friends, the Tilneys, where Catherine gets the chance to impress Henry Tilney.
Lady Susan is a short story in letter format, outlining the exploits of Lady Susan Vernon, a reckless flirt who is concerned only with enjoying herself, regardless of who might be hurt.
The Watsons and Sanditon are short, unfinished pieces. The Watsons is a story about young Emma Watson, who is chosen among her sisters to join the Edwards’ in attending the society season after being away for many years. Sanditon follows the the story of the Parkers, a family living in a more reclusive coastal town, always on the lookout for new, wealthy families to visit and improve their society.
If I’d known when I started the book that the last two stories were unfinished, I might have just let it sit. While not as bad as some unfinished works, in terms of building the story and leaving you hanging, it’s always a bummer to not have the ending.
Full of wit and sometimes snide commentary, Austen’s writing is a fun, if laborious, break from contemporary stories. And even if they are a bit repetitive in storyline, Austen’s writing makes it fun to read, and you can’t help getting attached to the characters.
I do love reading the classics (as much as I love reading pretty much everything else). Pretty soon, I’ll have finished up my book buying binge haul, and I’ll start in on the library list I’ve got.