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Marvelous post, Louise! I have only read the Big 3 (P&P, S&S, Emma) but do intend to read the lesser 3 at some point. Austen is a wonderful writer, to the point that I cannot say which of the three I have read I really like the most; maybe Emma since it is the longest? I just re-read Emma not too long ago and was struck at how inconsequential her offense to Miss Bates seemed in writing. I had this memory (most likely made larger by watching the movie a few times since my first reading of the book) of it being more. But then of course these are novels of manners.

If many men are not interested in reading the real thing, there is always the cottage industry of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (soon to be a major motion picture) and that sort of thing.

Then there are also more modern versions of these novels, and the very good (I thought so) The Jane Austen Book Club I think it is called ... I did not read the book but only enjoyed the movie.

I am babbling, but I do like Austen so. And I enjoyed your daughter's analysis as well.

Thank you, Stu!

My brother gave me P&P&Zombies. I just can't bring myself to read it!

The upsetting thing about Emma's offense to Miss Bates is what Knightley tells her about - that Miss B is getting older, lives in comparative poverty, and deserves better from Emma, whom she has known and loved since babyhood. Also, Emma is the first woman in that circle and sets the example.

But compared to modern people (especially on the 'net!) it's pretty mild.

When I was a teenager, and maybe into my early 20s, I liked Northanger Abbey the best. Now when I read it, I find that astounding. Now I like P&P and Emma and Persuasion a close third--in fact, on any given day it might be second or I might like Emma best. It all depends on what suits my mood.

I used to not like Mansfield Park at all. I thought Fannie was a complete cypher, but after talking with a friend about her, my opinion has risen a bit.


Having read only P&P, I was going to ask which Austen I should read next, but I think y'all have more or less answered that question: clearly Emma would be a good choice.

Stu, am I misremembering, or were you pretty cool toward Austen until fairly recently?

"Emma" for sure, Maclin. I think "Emma" is my favourite, if I didn't already say that.

"Northanger Abbey" is pretty amusing as a would-be gothic novel!

Fanny Price might be a bit under-rated, Janet.

I may have been dismissive of her in a discussion ranging wider and including other British authors of the period, Mac. Please don't get me in trouble with Janet and Louise! But I have come to really love her and just realize her fairly limited worldview and experience, short life, etc. Jane Austen is wonderful and deserved of all attention paid to her works!

I think Emma for sure.


Louise, I'm sure you are right, and after seeing what they did to her character in the 1999 movie, the original looks even better.


I think you're safe, Stu.


I have an embarrassing confession to make: I've never been able to get much beyond a few pages in an Austen book. I'm going to put it down to having seen Greer Garson's P & P at a very early age and ever after seeing all the movie faces in my head. That seeing prepackaged characters, rather than imagining them for myself, has always hampered reading a book for me. But this lovely post, Louise, makes me want to give it another try.

Enjoyed your daughter's Marxist-feminist review. This in her analysis of the relationship between Emma and Knightley -- "Regarding courtship and marriage, then, the power dynamic between the two is, on the whole, equal" -- tells me a Marxist should never be allowed anywhere near Austen.

My favourite is P&P, followed by Emma, followed closely by S&S. The others I don't know well.

I was once reading P&P on an airplane, and the woman next to me asked what I was reading. I showed her, and she said, with some surprise, "Don't you find it painful?" I was about to ask for clarification when I noticed what she was reading: Michel Foucoult. Then I had a dark inkling of what the problem might be. I simply answered "No" and carried on.

I recently re-watched the 1995 Ang Lee film version of S&S, and I enjoyed it tremendously.

Northanger Abbey has always been my favourite. I suppose I have a less refined sense of humour than most who read Austen. In fact, that and Persuasion (which is mercifully short) are the only ones I've managed to finish. But you've convinced me to give some of the others another go.

NA is a good spoof of Gothic novels, but when I was a teenager, I just thought it was a good romance.


"Please don't get me in trouble with Janet and Louise!"


"But this lovely post, Louise, makes me want to give it another try."

My job here is done. :) Thanks Marianne.

"Enjoyed your daughter's Marxist-feminist review. This in her analysis of the relationship between Emma and Knightley -- "Regarding courtship and marriage, then, the power dynamic between the two is, on the whole, equal" -- tells me a Marxist should never be allowed anywhere near Austen."


Paul, I have never thought of your humour as less refined (or of mine as being refined at all!) But I echo Janet's comment that it's a good spoof. It really is quite good fun in that way. I think maybe I just didn't like Henry Tilney quite so much as a hero.

"Jane Austen is wonderful and deserved of all attention paid to her works!"

Awww. That's lovely, Stu.

I thought the risk was low, Stu. :-)

As I most likely said here a while back when I read P&P, one thing that really strikes me about it is that it defines (for the first time?) the basic template of the romance novel. Not that it's Austen's fault that a thousand terrible writers liked the idea, just as it doesn't take anything away from Tolkien that all kinds of stuff from mediocre fantasy novels to heavy metal albums borrows some of his paraphernalia.

I don't enjoy Emma very much because I spend so much of the book furious at Emma! I reread Persuasion recently and thought it much better than the first time. Generally I get more out of rereadings, perhaps because I'm not racing through the plot so I can appreciate more of the prose and character development.

"I don't enjoy Emma very much because I spend so much of the book furious at Emma!"

Anne-Marie, LOL! That's a good point. Maclin and others might find her equally vexing. She didn't bother me at all.

Actually, I probably should read "Persuasion" again. I might appreciate it more too.

I really like Persuasion. I think it's the nautical element, and I want to go walk on that beach.


A friend of mine spent part of a trip to England visiting sites of Jane Austen episodes. She even jumped down from the Cobb at Lyme.

Did she fall and hurt herself and then fall in love with a sailor over poetry?


I would have never thought that Austen was someone I would like until one of my college profs put me on to the key: the humor. He said, basically, "Pay attention -- this is funny stuff! If you're not laughing every few pages you're not getting it." This was P&P he was talking about, and I think he's correct. Go at Austen as typical novels of manners and you miss things, whereas if you note the satire they're much more enjoyable.

This is undoubtedly why I liked 'Mansfield Park' least among her books that I've read -- it's the "straightest" of the bunch, I'd say (although I've yet to read 'Persuasion').

Oh, there's a good bit of humor in Persuasion.


"I really like Persuasion. I think it's the nautical element, and I want to go walk on that beach."

The nautical element ought to make it much more interesting to me, but I didn't take to Capt. Wentworth all that much the first and only time I read it. Might be about time to re-read, anyhow.

I just thought of this and it's appropriate for November and also to this series. I think it's a good idea to pray for the souls of the authors who have died and their families. Also we can pray for those authors still living. Just an idea.

I was thinking this because Jane's favourite brother was in the Navy, if I'm not mistaken, and I got to thinking about them both because of "Persuasion."

That is a good idea.

The humor that I noticed in P&P was very much of the subtle and arch variety, the sort that makes you smile but not laugh.

On the other hand, when we read NA aloud to our kids, all of us laughed out loud.

When I was in my erly 20s I said something dismissive about Jane Austen being a romance novelist (having just given up on Emma), and a fellow student pointed out to me: "Except she's always making fun of all of her characters."

I love P&P and Emma - I enjoyed the others, but not as much. I tried to get my son a (sophomore in college) to read P&P but he hasn't. I think he would identify with Mr. Bennet (he enjoys observing the absurdity of people around him), but he won't listen (in spite of all the good books he has resisted and then enjoyed). I seem to have gone off topic :)

As far as I can tell, you can go pretty darn far around here without going off topic. You aren't even close.


Yeah, I don't really acknowledge the concept.

I was just wondering how to get my 16yo son to read Austen. Having seen his four older sisters go gaga over Mr. Darcy, he has fixed Austen (or at least P&P) in his mind as mushy girl stuff. Maybe I should start with Persuasion, introducing it by the naval theme, since he's a big Hornblower fan. (In fact, he happened to be walking through the living room at just the moment that my ladies' book club was puzzling over a naval matter in Persuasion. He explained it lucidly on the basis of his Hornblower knowledge. The ladies were impressed.)

Btw, Maclin, I see a gap on the schedule for November 29. I thought I was doing Mary Renault then, but I won't if you don't want/need a post.

Perish the thought! I was going to post a note later today asking. I was hoping someone had spoken for that week and I had just failed to note it at the time (and then inevitably forgotten it). I will update the schedule shortly. Thank you. That was the last remaining unallocated week, so it looks like we will make it after all. Very exciting.

I think getting a 16-year-old boy to like Austen is going to be difficult, nautical elements notwithstanding. Unless maybe the heroine follows her sailor to sea, like the girl in Jackaroe.

And why is it important? My husband read Austen for the first time when he was in his 60s and he really enjoyed it, but it was his choice.

There's just so much out there that he would like better.


Ah, good old Hornblower!

My husband has never had any interest in JA and always teases the children and me "she fills your head full of rubbish!"

I can't imagine getting a 16yo boy interested in reading her. Can't even get my 40-something husband to read her. Not that I really care.

When I was 16 I was very resistant to any reading suggestions my mother made. Stupidly, but perhaps not untypically for a 16-year-old. A better strategy might be to laugh out loud at something and when he asks what it is, say "Oh, I'm not sure you'd appreciate it." Then he'll want to like it just to be contrary.

That's an excellent idea. I suppose "It's a little old for you" might be tipping the hand too far. Though I'm not sure he would get much out of it if he did read it. I wouldn't have at 16.

My son played Frank Churchill in a production of Emma when he was 16.

My sister played Elizabeth Bennett when she was 16. Totally unfair. The little brat was born and then got all the good stuff. ;-)

But now she's not so bad.


I wrote some kind of essay in 5th or 6th grade complaining about my little brother breaking my model airplanes. He's ok now, too.

Still, I didn't notice any model airplanes. ;-)


I had 500 paper dolls--some bought, mostly made by me--in a department store box under my bed and one day I came home and found that my sister had cut the hair off all of them.


And yet they grow up thinking themselves oppressed by their older siblings.

Thanks, Grumpy.


You know, it honestly hadn't occurred to me that it would be ok for my son not to read Austen. She's great! Everyone has to read her! was my attitude.

So today in the car, he was reading "P & P & Zombies." As mildly as I could, I asked, "Don't you think you'll get more out of this if you read the original P&P first?" It turns out he had read it last summer, when he was facing a long car trip with nothing else at hand... and he really liked it! When I told him Persuasion is more Austen with sailors, his eye lit up.

He does have two.

Well there you go. 16yo males can be very... surprising!

Janet I made another comment on your blog after that and it didn't make it.


Sorry I haven't responded to that or anything else. Very busy till Sunday afternoon.

Yep. That's what I figured.


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