Title: Love and Freindship
Author: Jane Austen
Genre: Literary Fiction / Classic
Published Date: 1922 (Written between 1790-1793)
Why I wanted to read it: I am reading the book as part of Austen in August, but I’ve wanted to read more of Jane Austen’s work since reading Pride and Prejudice years ago.
Overview (Barnes & Noble):
Jane Austen wrote the delightfully silly Love and Freindship and Other Early Works in her teenage years to entertain her family. With its endearingly misspelled title, the collection of brief experimental sketches reveals the making of one of the best-loved authors of British literature.
What I Liked
I love Austen’s wit and humor in this book. For a teenager with only a few years education at the time of writing the book, she was well-informed and knew how to entertain readers. Laura’s story in the “Love and Freindship” letters includes some rather dark experiences such as the loss of Edward and Sophia’s loss of Augustus. She is brilliant when it comes to poking fun at relationships by how dramatic Sophia acted towards Laura when she loses herself in a fit both when Laura spoke of something that would remind her of Augustus and also when she remained silent because that would in turn make Sophia think of Augustus. And let’s not forget the fainting fits. You’ll want to avoid those.
In “Lesley Castle,” I enjoyed it when Margaret Lesley is complaining to Charlotte Lutterell about how her family is “retired from almost all the world,” then she goes on to list ten different families she is in regular contact with. Austen uses this as a way to poke fun at society, claiming there is absolutely nothing to do when in fact they’re oftentimes kept busy. The book is full of what we would today call “first world problems,” which I love reading about and laughing at, and she’s a genius at bringing that forth.
My favorite “love to hate” character in Pride and Prejudice is Lady Catherine, and I found her while reading “A Collection of Letters.” Lady Greville is no doubt the character sketch for Lady Catherine. This comes out when she pesters Maria about her mother and rudely judges her lack of carriage use due to her station. I adore entertaining bad characters over boring good characters, especially in Austen’s case considering her bad characters prove the most ridiculous.
I’ve been aware of Austen’s wit, humor, and intellect since reading Pride and Prejudice, but her ability to bring these traits forth at such a young age is both admirable and inspiring.
What I Didn’t Like
The title alone makes me cringe due to the word “friendship” being spelled incorrectly as “freindship.” The writing is also juvenile in parts with a lot of overused words and misspelling. I applaud Austen for her creativity and wit at such a young age, of course, but as an English major and avid reader I need to hold all writing to the same level. You know, be snobbish and all that.
Apart from finding Lady Catherine’s character in “A Collection of Letters,” this section of the book is my least favorite. The humor and intellect are still present, so I think my dislike comes from the letters being short and the characters coming and going before I could get used to them. I don’t mind short stories, but sometimes a scene being too short makes my wonder why it’s there at all.
I have to applaud Jane herself as my favorite “character” in this book considering her last piece, “The History of England.” I love how she refers readers to Shakespeare’s plays as a reference to monarch history. I appreciate her honest opinions on famous monarchs like Elizabeth who is such an important figure, though Austen appears to detest her and instead favor Mary, Queen of Scots. Although I personally love Elizabeth, I appreciate Jane’s honesty, even if brutal at times. One of my favorite quotes below is from this section. While it is rather simple, I included it because I appreciate how feisty she can be when passionate about something.
From “Love and Freindship”:
Run mad as often as you chuse; but do not faint.
From “The History of England”:
…she would be succeeded by that disgrace to humanity, that pest of society, Elizabeth.
What do you think Marianne is thinking while reading all of the letters in “Love and Freindship”? Is she sympathetic towards Laura’s story? Are you sympathetic?