Where to Start with Jane Austen’s Timeless Classics

Have you ever been taken into Jane Austen’s enchanting world through one of the many screen adaptations of her beloved novels? Or Perhaps you’re intrigued and want to dig into the pages of Austen’s novels, which have made an indelible mark on English literature.

Born in 1775, Jane Austen created literary masterpieces with a distinct and perceptive style, infused with a delightful blend of satire and wit. Through her novels, Austen effectively captures the growing world around he, exploring the complexities of love, social hierarchy, and the myriad challenges encountered by her characters.

Although Jane Austen only penned six novels, the question arises: in which order should one embark on this literary journey? The answer is as unique as each reader’s personal preferences. There is no right or wrong way to explore the world of Jane Austen, and this guide has been created to help you start your journey through her literary realm.

Pride and Prejudice, her most well-known Work

If you had to choose just one of Austen’s novels, it would most likely be Pride and Prejudice, which follows Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy as they navigate the complexities of class, love, and personal growth against the background of 19th-century England.

For good reason, this is the story that comes to mind when most think of Jane Austen: it’s full of intricate and fascinating characters, twists, and witty dialogue. When two people must go on a stroll to have private conservation, the tension is never higher as in this classic tale of miscommunication that is still relevant today.

Northanger Abbey, her shortest novel

Published posthumously, Northanger Abbey is the first novel written by Jane Austen. It’s also her shortest and maybe funniest work, making it an excellent starting place for those who want a taste of Austen’s writings without committing to a lengthier read.

Parodying the Gothic fiction popular during her time, Northanger Abbey follows the young and naive Catherine Morland as she enters the world of Bath Society. She realises how her love of Gothic literature and her vivid imagination have distorted her worldview as she embarks on a journey to know herself and the true nature of those around her.

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

― Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey

Persuasion, her most romantic novel

The last novel she completed, Persuasion is also her most romantic story, exploring regrets and power dynamics in relationships. Anne Elliot is a mature and thoughtful heroine with grace and complexities, with a touch of melancholy.

As a young woman, Anne Elliot was encouraged by her family to break off her engagement with Captain Frederick Wentworth because of to his lack of revenue and social standing. Years later, Anne’s family’s financial situation has diminished, and she remains single. As the Captain reappears in her life, she must confront societal norms as well as her regrets and intense affection for him.

Sense and Sensibility, her most balanced novel

Sense and Sensibility was Jane Austen’s first published work. While it is not her funniest or most romantic novel, it is a perfect blend of everything that defines the author. As a result, it may be an excellent starting place for new readers.

This coming-of-age story centers around the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they must relocate from a vast estate to a modest cottage. both of them must learn to navigate between their own sentiments and societal expectations, as their adventures force them to realize the significance of striking a balance between 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.”

― Jane Austen, Sense and Sensibility

Emma, her most charming novel

Emma, the leading lady of Jane Austen’s longest novel, is also often regarded as her most annoying heroine. Let that not dissuade you, for it is one of the things that makes Emma one of her most endearing novels. by interfering with Emma’s perception of herself and what the readers truly know., The novel reveals itself to be as mischievous as its heroine.

The story follows Emma Woodhouse, a privileged young woman who believes she can arrange weddings for everyone around her while staying blissfully unconscious of her own feelings. So start her journey to self-awareness and love.

Mansfield Park, her most morally nuanced novel

Mansfield Park is without a doubt Austen’s most divisive work. It evokes equal parts admiration and criticism. It is one of her longer pieces, yet it is also one of her least humorous. It is her most challenging novel, and it is more of a slow burner.

As the novel follows Fanny Price, an introverted young woman from a modest background who is sent to live with wealthy relatives, it explores questions concerning the nature of morality and the choices individuals make in varied social circumstances. Fanny, who is naturally cautious, is well aware of what is required of her and has a strong moral sense that guides her actions throughout the novel.

Bonus Reading: Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon and Love and Friendship and Other Writings.

After you’ve finished reading her full novels, you can go on to Austen’s other writings. She left behind three unpublished volumes of juvenile writings, the brief epistolary book Lady Susan, and the unfinished novel The Watsons. This works provide glimpses into Austen’s creative process and her writing technique.

You can also discover Jane Austen’s works with some adaptations of her books in graphic novels and manga.