Saturday, 18 September 2010

What Jane Read

At last, I've embarked upon a reading project I've been planning for a long time. I want to read the women writers who inspired Jane Austen and I'm starting off with Maria Edgeworth's Helen after it caught my eye in a bookshop recently.

I should say that Austen couldn't possibly have read Helen because it was published after her death, but she certainly read Edgeworth and Belinda is one of the novels Austen refers to in her famous defence of the novel in Northanger Abbey.

Helen is a 500 page novel and it has taken me a while to settle into the rhythm and pace of it but Edgeworth is a very fine writer with an acute observation of human nature and I just can't put it down.

12 comments:

Laura said...

That is a lovely cover!

Steph said...

What a wonderful reading project! I look forward to seeing the titles you pick... I'll likely find a bunch of authors I'll need to read myself!

potterjotter said...

That's such a great idea - I love Jane Austen, but never would have thought of going that one step further. Will be interested to see what you make of it.

Carolyn said...

That's exactly a project I've been thinking of doing too, for some time! I'm not quite ready to start yet, since I'm dedicating my time to the Victorians right now, but I'm sure I'll get there eventually and it will be enjoyable to follow along with you.

Dorothy W. said...

What fun! I have Helen on my shelves, but haven't gotten to it yet. I really enjoyed Belinda, though, so I'm guessing it will be good. I hope you write more about it!

makedoandread said...

What a fantastic idea for a reading project! I'll be following your progress and look forward to hearing more about the books.

Shelley said...

I'm going straight to my library website to see if I can get this. It's so frustrating that there aren't more Austen novels to read, so maybe this book will help!

I just noticed that Steinbeck is one of your favorites. He wrote about the ones who left; I write about the ones who stayed.

Mystica said...

This is a new book for me so thank you for this post.

Short Story Slore said...

Great idea for a project! You just added some to my list.

Vintage Reading said...

Laura, the publisher, Sort of Books, which I'm not familiar with have some eye-catching covers on their web-site.

Steph, I don't like to be too structured and planned in my approach to reading so I'll probably interchange with a few contemporary novels. I'm very much enjoying Edgeworth.

potterjotter, I've found that I've read and re-read the six complete Austen novels so many times I now want to take my reading further and seek out her inspiration - not in an academic way - just for fun!

Carolyn, I see you're reading Gaskell right now and apparently Helen inspired Gaskell to write Wives and Daughters so, of course, I want to read that now, too!

Dorothy, hi, did you review Belinda? I'd be interested to read your thoughts.

makedoandread, always a pleasure to get a comment from an Austen fan!

Shelley, yes my dream is an undiscovered Austen novel uncovered in someone's attic! I've enjoyed reading a few more chapters of Rain. As I've said before, your writing reminds me of Annie Proulx and also Louise Erdrich.

Mystica, hi, Austen and Edgeworth fans always welcome here!!

Short Story Store - just checked out your blog - brilliant idea - a book blog devoted to short stories. I would copyright it!!

Mae said...

What a great project. I've been wanting to read Mysteries of Uldopho ever since she poked fun at it in Northanger Abbey!

Jillian said...

Hm, this looks like a really interesting project...