( In case your confused. I recently signed up to participate in the classic’s club. Learn more about it by clicking on the top bar. I am extremely excited about it. I hope you don’t mind me posting reviews here. You may skip if you like; I suggest you don’t. First review – here goes nothing… )
|Original manuscript with illustrations by her sister Cassandra.
The History of England – Jane Austen
I have a confession:
I am a teenage girl. I am a christian teenage girl. I am a christian teenage girl who loves literature.
I’ve never really liked Jane Austen Novels.
Don’t kill me.
At least let me explain first.
Her work has much merit – I admit, but I never really understood the hype. Her stories can be interesting, her characters solid (Mr. Knightley = YES!) and her writing good – no doubt. However, I find her prose a bit stuffy and the attention to needless details annoying. [ i.e. the lengthy portion of Emma describing the arrangements for a small ball that doesn’t end up happening anyway. ] I may be prejudiced, simply by the fact that I’ve never been one for romance novels. Romance in novels is fine. Novels entirely devoted to fictional character marrying other fictional characters and how much money they gained, not so much.
Still, I admire Jane Austen – she was well educated, strong, and out of pace with her society’s expectations. She is one of many historical figures I would love to have met. When I found out that she wrote a history of England when she was my age – I couldn’t help but be interested.
Now I have another confession: I am a history geek.
Jane Austen’s The History of England begins as follows:
The history of England
from the reign of
Henry the IV
to the death of
to Charles the I
By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian.
N.B There will be very few Dates in this History
Sound promising? I thought so.
And it only get’s better from there.
A young Jane Austen full of wit and hilarity
completely ridicules the most popular history
texts of her day by shying a way from their
obsession with the objective to quote sources
such as Shakespeare’s plays, a popular novel,
and her own opinion.
She writes in the style of a haughty history
text but fills it with her own personal opinions,
outrageous misstatements, and horrid puns.
To see one of the most popular novelist’s in history
in a young and untamed shape, was extremely interesting.
The added bonus was seeing a famous 18th century opinion
on one of my favorite topics – English history.
I walked away still chuckling with laughter and feeling
a much higher respect for this famous authoress.
Her adolescent and unpolished talents reveal a
young intellectual bubbling with wild opinions,
wit, and cynicism. It made me realize something I had
heard before: Jane Austen hadn’t just written long romances,
her novels were satires. Admittedly a tamed version.
The more I think about it, the more it makes sense.
I am sure this realization will make for a much more understandable,
a much more enjoyable, and a much more informed reading of
future Austen novels. I am actually looking forward to diving
into the last two Austen’s I have yet to tackle – Persuasion and
I will never regret reading the tiny history.
I laughed and I learned and would gladly do it again.
I recommend it for anyone who loves Austen or history or both.
Knowing the true facts greatly helped me to understand her silly statements,
but I do not think that is necessary to at least partially enjoy this little volume.
So unloose your seriousness and break out your funny bone.
Enjoy Austen in her unbroken state – fresh, young, and extremely funny.
As far as I can say – Austen at her best!
Reread? Yes. Probably tomorrow in fact.