Persuasion – Jane Austen

With the second centenary of Austen’s death there are many events going on to commemorate her and celebrate her works. This runs from appearing on banknotes to plays and other cultural events. I went to a modern “retelling” of Persuasion at the Manchester Royal Exchange, which was both true to the original language and hilarious in its modern interpretations. I confess I didn’t recall a foam party in the text.

Having seen the play (at short notice) I then returned to the book, to take in the depths and layers that a play with limited cast and a short timeframe couldn’t include. Cousins are added, the full detail of who Mrs Clay is and a bit more detail that makes the courtship make more sense.

It is of course beautifully written, humerous in places and shows Anne Elliot manoeuvring her position to navigate through life and find a suitable future for herself.

Have you recently revisited any classics?

Lady Susan – Jane Austen

Penguin Classics should be sold at all railway stations, and this one came from Birmingham New Street Foyles. Just the right length for my return journey home and saved me from the bestseller list or a magazine.Lady Susan

Lady Susan is a wonderful anti-heroine. Defying social conventions, she is making her own way in the world and choosing her husband her own way. I love that she does find her own way, in spite of being so far from the ideal of Regency womanhood.

It is a classic epistolary novel, with the whole book (except for the conclusion) told in the form of letters between and from the main characters, the majority of which are of course ladies with time on their hands to exchange details of other people’s lives. So of course my quote is from a letter between two of the men…

I have at this moment recieved your Letter, which has given me more astonishment than I ever felt before.

But of course to reveal what gives such astonishment would remove all the fun. It remains only to say that Austen’s wit shines through and this is well-worth reading.

Eta: What do you know, I’ve read this before!

Lady Susan – Jane Austen

Lady Susan is a collection of letters about Lady Susan’s affairs after she moves to her brother-in-law’s residence after she is widowed.

A satirical look at how a seductress could socialise and manipulate relationships in spite of the limitations placed on her behaviour by the conventions of regency society, the viewpoint moves between narrators showing the horror and delight her friends, family and rivals have at her behaviour with men. Lady Susan is a basically feminist book, with women refusing to accept the position they are expected to take.

The male characters in the book lack detail and are generally assumed to have no grasp of the current situation, but all the women have strong personalities and views to manipulate and run their lives.