I’m in a Jane Austen book club, and recently, we read two of her short stories. Austen began writing in her youth, and she wrote the stories we read when she was a teenager. Because I am not, at this time, reading everything in my copy of Juvenilia and Short Stories by Jane Austen, I’m counting the short story Love and Friendship towards my TBR goal for 2021, as I did The History of England.
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The summary, from Wikipedia:
Written in epistolary form like her later unpublished novella, Lady Susan, Love and Freindship is thought to be one of the tales she wrote for the amusement of her family. It was dedicated to her cousin Eliza de Feuillide, known as “La Comtesse de Feuillide”. The instalments, written as letters from the heroine Laura, to Marianne, the daughter of her friend Isabel, may have come about as nightly readings by the young Jane in the Austen home. Love and Freindship (the misspelling is one of many in the story) is clearly a parody of romantic novels Austen read as a child. This is clear even from the subtitle, “Deceived in Freindship and Betrayed in Love”, which undercuts the title.
In form, the story resembles a fairy tale in featuring wild coincidences and turns of fortune, but Austen is determined to lampoon the conventions of romantic stories, down to the utter failure of romantic fainting spells, which always turn out badly for the female characters. The story shows the development of Austen’s sharp wit and disdain for romantic sensibility, characteristic of her later novels.
Buy Love and Friendship here.
Or buy it in an anthology of Austen’s short stories, such as Juvenilia and Short Stories.
This is a short story written by Austen when she was a teenager, and just like The History of England, it’s a joy. I’ve seen reviewers give editions two stars for the errors, but that’s half the fun for me. Yes, she really spelled it Love and Freindship originally.
It is important to have some knowledge of the types of novels Austen read growing up. She would have been exposed to the romanticism movement, where love stories and tragedies often focused heavily on the emotions of one narrator. These books were also full of women fainting and swooning. Austen lampoons this in Love and Friendship, a series of letters from Laura to her friend’s daughter. Laura reflects on the fantastical events of her young adulthood, which jump from one extreme scene to the next, much like a fairy tale.
I definitely love Austen’s adult works more, but this is a fun read. You can see her forming ideas for her latter works in her uncanny ability to uncover and laugh at the sensibilities of humans or lack thereof. This was a 4 star read for me.
Find out more about how I rate books here.
Love and Freindship : Love and Freindship by Jane Austen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a fun and silly read, and even in her teenage years, Austen’s humor is evident. It definitely is more entertaining with some knowledge of romanticism, a movement which is being mocked in this writing.
Book Club Questions
- Are any elements of Austen’s later works evident in this early work?
- Are there any titles you can think of that Austen might be making fun of in particular?
P. S. Love and Friendship is free to read with Kindle Unlimited. Check out Kindle Unlimited Membership Plans to score this and other great reads for free. You can thank me later.