bryan's Reviews > The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense and Sensibility

The Friendly Jane Austen by Natalie Tyler
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Jul 06, 08

bookshelves: lit-crit

Picked this up because, while reading Sense and Sensibility, I felt I was missing a lot of the nuances of early 19th century English life. I thought some background would be helpful.

The book is good, I recommend it, but a bit too Harry Knowles-fanboy-ish for my tastes. I could've done without the cute little quizzes and some of the interviews with academics.
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Comments (showing 1-12 of 12) (12 new)

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message 1: by Kelly (new)

Kelly I love how committed you are to getting into Austen. It's fantastic. A true Anglophile indeed. I'm very into 18th and 19th century Brit Lit, so if you'd like any other recommendations, I'm happy to oblige!


bryan I think my favorite genre is the English comic novel -- Austen, Wodehouse, Fraser.


message 3: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Tell me then.. would that make you a Jeeves and Wooster fan? If you don't know what that is... as a fan of Wodehouse, you should! Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry are brilliant. :)


bryan I'm aware of the TV series but I haven't seen any of it. Yet another item to add to the already absurd "to-do" list.


message 5: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Luckily it's all on YouTube! Some darling soul put up the entirety of the first three seasons! V. easy to do. Even if the rest of the list is absurd. :)


message 6: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Thank you kindly for reminding me of this. Did you find it helpful to understanding Sense and Sensibility?


bryan I read this AFTER I read S&S. I'm hoping it'll augment my understanding of the next Austen I read, probably P&P.


message 8: by Kelly (new)

Kelly What did you end up thinking of Sense and Sensibility, by the way? I'd love to her your thoughts on it.


bryan I liked it, but I didn't love it. I thought Emma was better, probably because I like Emma more than Elinor and Marianne (not that the later are by any means bad or unlikable characters).

I think part of the problem I had with S&S -- and this is really lame of me -- but I kept thinking of the Thompson movie (which I love, by the way). The actors' faces and the locations kept on intruding into my mind's eye and kinda pulling me outta the narrative.



message 10: by Kelly (new)

Kelly No no, that actually happened to me, too. I read it before I saw the movie, and then I read it afterwards and my perception of the actions of characters and their interactions was completely changed. Which speaks to the power of Thompson and Ang Lee's adaptation, I think. So it may be lame, but we are a visual culture. It makes sense. :)

I wish she'd been able to get some more of the ambiguousness of the book in there, though. Who was rewarded and who wasn't? Austen's caustic thoughts about Marianne, a bit more of a complicated Elinor. Her complicated ending. I love the last lines of something like: "And they lived together as happily as they could be expected to." Let no one say that Austen believes in inadulterated happy endings. I guess that doesn't really work for Hollywood, though.

In terms of Emma, I think Emma is a more realistic character than the sisters, though. Since she's not meant to represent anything, and can merely be herself. I don't know if I "like" her better, but I certainly could relate to her and her travails better.


bryan Doesn't Persuasion have a "Sure they're married, but it ain't gonna be a bed of roses" ending too?


message 12: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Not as much. Persuasion gets the "not a bed of roses," part out of the way with the characters' failed history and the beginning of the book. Persuasion is easily the most romanticized of her novels.


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