Book Review | The Beautifull Cassandra by Jane Austen

This Little Black Classic showcases a collection of short stories that Jane wrote to entertain her family when she was still a teenager. 

These stories are so sweet! They are definitely not up to the scale of Jane’s later works, so if that’s what you’re wanting, this isn’t the place to find it. However, Jane does real good in these short stories and I found myself laughing aloud with some of them.

Some of the reading matter really did shock me, though, from Jane’s era, so I can’t imagine what her family thought of them! The phrase “dead drunk” continually crops up, for instance. Either way, they were pretty mature stories – more of a teenager trying to both entertain and impress her family.  Continue reading

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Becoming Jane [Film Review]

So, I know that Sunday evenings are generally book reviews, but today I watched this brilliant film and I just have to write about it. It’s about Jane Austen, so it’s technically literature.

Becoming Jane is the not-so-fictional story of Jane Austen and her lover, if you like, Thomas Lefroy. It’s a story of love and loss, and how the class systems restrict the true followings of the heart.

Firstly, Jane. Played by Anne Hathaway (who I only discovered today is American), she is the feisty girl I have always imagined her to be. To begin with, I wasn’t sure about her voice, but it grew on me. Hathaway’s acting was great; she was intelligent (even learnt the piano for the part), and helped me to learn about Austen’s life. Furthermore, Hathaway was enthusiastic about the role, which really threaded itself into her acting; you believe in her emotions, the story, it feels like you’re living it yourself.

Second, Tom. Played by the stunningly gorgeous James McAvoy (ahem), Tom is an arrogant sod, basically, who, much like Mr Darcy in Pride and Prejudicechanges as he falls in love with a beautiful girl. McAvoy’s acting was brilliant; he stayed in character, during the development of his character too, and his cheeky smile fit in perfectly.

Whilst I am unsure if it sticks to historical events of Austen’s, the plot is a typical romance. Not saying that it’s bad – in fact, it’s become one of my favourite films. It portrays the traditions of the time, the differences in attitudes, and how writers were perceived at the time (see: Mrs. Radcliffe). Rather different from now!

This film is a tear-jerker, especially if you know Jane’s tragically short life beforehand – or, indeed, after. Tom Lefroy was a name I had heard once or twice, in connection with Jane, but I had never thought of it much – she did not marry. But this film gives you historical context, background; it’s essentially a ‘faction’ film (fact and fiction).

Would I recommend this film? Yes, one hundred times yes. You will enjoy it, undoubtedly.

And if you ever have time, come to Hampshire. It’s where I live (hi!); it’s where Jane wrote much of her work, including Pride and Prejudice, and it’s where she, sadly, died, in Winchester; you can see the house in which she passed away and her grave in the Cathedral.

This isn’t a travel blog, but it’s really humbling to go to her house in Chawton, and her grave in Winchester, and is definitely worth the visit (and Hampshire’s great so y’know).

But if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and do some research into this awe-inspiring woman and her lover.

One last thought to end this review on:

Jane Austen is one of the greatest literary figures this world has ever seen and will probably never see again. 

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Pride and Prejudice

Although when you look on my GoodReads, and it tells you that this book took me 3 months and 6 days to read, do not think that that is because it is terrible. On the contrary, I adore this book. To put it simply, it took me that long because I could not be arsed in the mornings to read complicated language. Ahem.

Pride and Prejudice follows, mainly, the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy, after the arrival of Bingley and Darcy at Netherfield, near where the clever, charming and attractive Elizabeth lives. With a nightmare mother and 4 other sisters, all in need of financial security, there’s trouble brewing at Longbourn. The novel also follows many other romances: Mr Collins’, Lydia’s, Jane’s included. (I’m trying not to give too much away.)

If you’re look at the 1800s, this is a perfect contemporary novel. It shows exactly how women were meant to behave (or, in some cases, not meant to). It shows the art of letter writing, something which isn’t used much this days (although I always get a thrill of seeing an envelope with my name, hand written, on the front). And Austen has done a fantastic job with a romantic comedy novel.

My favourite part was towards the end, with Elizabeth and Darcy communicating (yay! Finally!), and, obviously, the eventual engagement (I’m guessing here that every single person knows they get together…). The comedy aspects of it did make me laugh out loud, especially at the sarcasm involved (I’m looking at you, Mr Bennet).

Now, to the language part (aka, the one thing that annoyed me that I still wouldn’t change). It’s long-winded, has big words (many of which I didn’t understand and therefore ignored) and, if it were written in the colloquialism of today, would have been about 100 pages less. The language is what took me so long to get through it, probably. My mind couldn’t take it on the bus rides in the morning to college, when everyone was asleep, and then I didn’t read it on the way back because everyone was awake! Moreover, it is difficult to read just a page; you have figure out where it begins, and then by the time it gets to the end, you’re too involved to stop.

The character development is great. Elizabeth’s change of heart, Mr Darcy’s complete change of character; in fact, I think the only ones who remained the same were Mary, Mrs Bennet and the Gardiners. The character’s are very 3D, and they are all different between each other – Mr Bennet and Elizabeth, Elizabeth and Jane, Bingley and Darcy, Wickham and the Colonel. I wish that all characters were like Austen’s.

Finally, the plot: the plot is a typical romance, admittedly, but it has scandals and subplots, and some parts of it are revealed slowly, so the reader remains guessing along with the characters. I never felt cheated on a plot, and felt that they all added to the atmosphere the book created, as well as the ideas it needed to show.

Would I recommend this book? Yes, definitely. Make sure you’ll be able to handle the language, but other than that it’s an incredible read and I love it to pieces.

#StillWaitingForMyMrDarcy