Jane Austen is perhaps the most recognized female author of the English language. Her works have been adapted to the big screen many times. Her characters like Mr. Darcy, Emma Woodhouse, and Elizabeth Bennet are a staple in mainstream culture.
Reading Jane Austen books is a staple in every reader’s diet. Her books and quotes are a source of joy for fans of classic literature. Austen herself advocated voracious reading. She was of the thought “The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”
If you want to start with the works of Jane Austen, I will personally recommend the following order. Starting with her most famous and well-known work. That is Pride and Prejudice.
Pride and Prejudice
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
The book follows the budding relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy. This book is the most loved work of fiction and reading it would give you a good understanding of the style of Austen.
If reading the book seems like a daunting task you can also read the graphic book version created by Marvel Comics.
“You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope…I have loved none but you.”
The book follows the life story of Anne Elliot who is the oldest of all of Austen’s heroines. The book questions whether Anne Elliot will get her reunion with Frederick Wentworth.
Sense and Sensibility
“I wish, as well as everybody else, to be perfectly happy; but, like everybody else, it must be in my own way.”
The story follows the life of the Dashwoods sisters in particular Marianne and Elinor. The former wears her heart on her sleeve whereas the latter is more sensitive to matters of love. Their parallel love stories search the theme of having sense and sensibility.
“Silly things do cease to be silly if they are done by sensible people in an impudent way.”
This book follows the narration of the most captivating and strong Austen character – Emma Woodhouse. She is well-off and loves making matches in her free time. She is beautiful, witty, and spoiled.
“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.”
Catherine Morland, the heroine, is super sweet and naive. She is obsessed with Gothic Novels. But soon she finds herself in a Gothic house and her ideas take a steep turn. This book is a satirical work of Austen and a narrative genius.
“Her own thoughts and reflections were habitually her best companions.”
In this book, Mansfield Park traces the storyline of Fanny Price as she charts her way through her adopted family in Mansfield Park.
If reading Austen’s original works seems like a daunting task then there are a plethora of retellings available for you.
- ‘Eligible’ by Curtis Sittenfeld – (Pride and Prejudice retelling)
- ‘Emma’ by Alexander McCall Smith – (Emma retelling)
- ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ by Seth Grahame-Smith – (Pride and Prejudice alternative retelling)
- ‘Sense and Sensibility’ by Joanna Trollope – (Sense and Sensibility retelling)
- ‘Seeking Mansfield’ by Kate Watson – (Mansfield Park retelling)
Reading is something that all characters of Austen and Austen herself proudly advocated. Her notion for books and reading was akin to education. “A fondness for reading, properly directed, must be an education in itself” she believed. It is time now for you to dive deeper into the liberating and pleasurable world of Jane Austen.