Jane Austen Mini-Reviews

April 15, 2014 Classics, Fiction 13

50398Title: Northanger Abbey
Author: Jane Austen
Source: free from Amazon
Rating: ★★★☆☆

This may make me a disgrace to Jane Austen fandom, but Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice have always been fairly interchangeable in my mind. They’re just so similar! So, even though I love them both dearly, I was initially very excited to start this book and find something a bit different. As always, I adored Austen’s writing style and her pointed humor. In this book, she very deliberately breaks the tropes of the Gothic novel, with funny asides about the genre along the way. Her points are made clearly enough that I could tell what she was making fun of in Gothic novels, even though I’ve read very few myself. However, as I got further into the book, it soon became clear that there was essentially no plot and the main character isn’t very bright. Although she does grow a bit, she has very little agency. Nearly all of the difficulties she faces are in her head or at least blown all out of proportion. I didn’t really feel that this silly main protagonist deserved the intelligent, funny, kind love interest. In typical Austen fashion though, everything just works itself out in the last few pages. This doesn’t typically bother me, but in this case, there wasn’t enough action by the main character preceding the speedy resolution. Only Austen’s wonderful writing saved this for me.

45032Title: Mansfield Park
Author: Jane Austen
Source: giveaway by Kim at Reflections of a Book Addict
Rating: ★★★☆☆

As with the previous book, Austen’s writing and humor are all that stands between this book and a two star review. Our heroine, Fanny, is the perfect shy, obedient young woman and for that reason alone, it seems we are supposed to prefer her to Miss Crawford, her competition for Edmund’s heart. Although Miss Crawford can be superficial and even cruel, it seems her main flaw is not behaving as women were expected to behave at the time. As a modern reader, I sometimes found her more sympathetic than Fanny. Likewise,  Fanny’s alternate love interest seemed a better match for her than Edmund in manys, starting with the fact that Edmund is her cousin and is sometimes very thoughtless of her feelings. My lack of enthusiasm for Austen’s romantic pairings was offset by my dislike of one particularly nasty character and my enjoyment at seeing her thwarted. That was second only my to my enjoyment at seeing the nastier characters made fun of with Austen’s characteristic wit. Overall, this book was very slow and I felt little interest in the outcome. Again, enjoyable only if you love Austen’s writing.

13 Responses to “Jane Austen Mini-Reviews”

  1. Jennine G.

    I took Jane Austen as my Senior Capstone in undergrad and then as an independent study in grad school, so I’ve read them all a couple times. Out of the six, I’d say Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park are my least favorites.
    Jennine G. recently posted…Begin the Week with WordsMy Profile

      • DoingDewey

        So far, they’re my least favorites too. I still need to get to Persuasion, but I’m hopeful I’ll like that one better as well 🙂 Thanks for the bio recommendation! I always love pairing fiction and nonfiction, so maybe I’ll pick it up when I’m reading Persuasion.

  2. C.J. @ ebookclassics

    I haven’t read Northanger Abbey yet, but I read Mansfield Park a few years ago. It was difficult to fall in love the with the characters, although I felt bad for Fanny and found it interesting that Austen decided to make the heroine of this book shy and passive. But even quiet girls need to win the man!
    C.J. @ ebookclassics recently posted…Today I Learned – Madame Bovary EditionMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      It is nice to see a such an atypical heroine 🙂 Your comment makes me feel I might have been too hard on Fanny, because she really does seem like a sweet person. I just have a very hard time liking passive characters, in any book.
      DoingDewey recently posted…Jane Austen Mini-ReviewsMy Profile

    • DoingDewey

      Even though these weren’t my favorite books by Austen, I am happy to have read them just because they’re hers. I really do adore her writing style 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      That’s how I felt about it 🙂 Even though I didn’t love these as much as Austen’s other books, I would like to have read them all eventually. Just Persuasion to go for me!

    • DoingDewey

      I think Jane Eyre is considered a gothic novel, but other than that, I haven’t read any either. I was surprised that my lack of familiarity with the genre didn’t keep me from enjoy Austen’s humor in the least! The only one of her books I have yet to get to is Persuasion and I consider it a must-read 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Everyone! Really, I love the way she writes and while I’m sure it’s not for everyone, it’s so distinctive that I think it’s worth reading once just to see if you like it 🙂