Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
I’m a little ashamed to admit this, but here it goes: I’ve been reading Jane Austen novels and a vast amount of Austenesque literature for over 12 years and this is the first time I’ve read any of her Juvenilia! I’m so exceedingly glad that I finally had the opportunity to do so this past month! To see the early scribblings and youthful effusions of my favorite author is indeed an illuminating and enthralling experience!
Since the lovely edition of Jane Austen’s Love and Freindship: And Other Youthful Writings I read contains a lot of contextual notes and annotations, I thought I’d breakdown my review to itemize what I thought about each specific aspect of this volume.
But first, let me acquaint you with what is included in this edition of Love and Freindship: And Other Youthful Writings.
- Volume I, II, and III of Jane Austen’s Juvenilia
- Lady Susan
- A 30 page Introduction by Christine Alexander
- A section of Textual Notes by Christine Alexander
- A section of Annotated Notes by Christine Alexander
- Further Reading and Chronology
MY THOUGHTS ON JANE AUSTEN’S EARLY WORKS:
- It Is Our Dear Jane: The eccentric characters, the astute and comedic social observations, the themes of marriage and money. It is easy to identify the brilliance and humor of Jane Austen (at an early age) in these stories.
- Jane Likes to Narrate: A lot of these stories are heavy on the narrative side, often with very little portions of dialogue. It is interesting to see how many of her early works are epistolary works. Was it because she was very familiar with writing letters (to her friends and siblings)? Or perhaps because she enjoyed the act of telling stories (both verbally and in print)?
- Jane Likes to Spoof and Make Sport: A lot of what Jane Austen wrote in her early works can be traced back to or gives reference to a published work she read. She parodies scenes, characters, and styles of writing from authors such as Frances Burney (Evelina), Samuel Richardson (Sir Charles Grandison), and Oliver Goldsmith (The History of England), to name a few. She reminds one of the writers for Saturday Night Live, but instead of writing parodies about the latest news and events, she pens skits and satires about the latest novels and plots. 🙂
- Sometimes Weak Conclusions: A lot of these early works by Jane Austen end with a very hurried and incomplete conclusion, which is the only thing I really have to quibble about in this compilation. Some stories break off without any resolution or satisfying closure. Part of me wonders if this was Jane Austen’s playful sense of humor…did she send these incomplete snippets of stories to relations and await their begging entreaties for more?
MY FAVORITE STORIES FROM JANE AUSTEN’S EARLY WORKS:
- The History of England – such a playful take on real historical figure and events! I loved the humor and the very opinionated stance Jane Austen took with some monarchs!
- Catharine, or the Bower – I enjoyed this longer work for its descriptive and imaginative characterizations – Jane Austen definitely has a love for ridiculous characters and their follies!
- Lady Susan – Ooh! Such an anti-heroine! Full of schemes and drama, I just love the candor that letter-writing allows!
MY THOUGHTS ON THIS EDITION:
- It’s Elegantly Made: This book is a beauty – a clothbound cover, thick, high-quality paper, and an attached ribbon bookmark. Definitely a tome to admire and treasure!
- Annotations Are Extremely Helpful: With Jane Austen’s spelling and frequent references to characters, authors, and events of her day, I found myself greatly needing and appreciating these contextual notes! Half of the jabs and jokes Jane Austen made would be way over my head without them. In addition, I found it interesting to learn what edits Jane Austen made on her own manuscript and to suppose the reason why such edits were made.
- Thorough and Complete: I love that this edition included all three volumes of Jane Austen’s Juvenilia, images of the original manuscripts, and Cassandra’s illustrations for The History of England. And of course, I think including Lady Susan in this compilation is brilliant!
An excellent addition to any Janeite’s library! And these earlier works by Jane Austen are definitely something every Jane Austen fan should read at least once. I love that Penguin Books included such a lovely volume in their eye-catching and elegant Hardcover Classics series! It will wonderfully complete my Jane Austen set!
The kind people at Penguin Group have kindly donated ONE lovely hardcover copy of Love and Freindship: and Other Youthful Writings for me to give away to ONE lucky winner!
To enter this giveaway, leave a comment about my review!!
- This giveaway is open for US/CAN residents. Thank you, Penguin Group!
- This giveaway ends April 22nd!