Sunday, September 09, 2007

Book review: Becoming jane

Becoming Jane is a collection of quotes from Jane Austen. As author of Pride and Prejudice alone, she would have deserved a place in list of one of greatest romance novelists of English Literature. She wrote six novels, and every novel deals with issues of love, marriage, relationship and friendship. While Elizabeth and Mr Darcy are most well known of her characters, Emma is my personal favorite. In these novels, the language is Victorian, sexual propriety is heeded to (as per the need of those times) and hence as love stories, these novels possess an innocence, a charm that has been hallmark of Austen's style, and has contributed to her popularity with people of all age groups about centuries. Becoming Jane collects her pearls of wisdom from not only her novels, but also from her personal letters.

The book is divided into various sections, each highlighting quotable lines related to say family, vanity, beauty or courtship. Anne Newgarden, the editor, introduces each section with some insight into writing, life and times of Jane Austen. Certain social practices and customs from Austen's time have faded away, and these mini-essays convey what background information is not available firsthand to readers to Austen. But Jane Austen was, like every good novelist, a creator of a world complete in itself; characters who exist outside and beyond their space and time; and hence are going to be always relevant and identifiable.

If you are an Austen fan, and you have read all her books already, you will like this book, as it will bring back the memory of certain passages or personalities from your earlier reading. You will also find additional quotes from her personal life, which are equally enjoyable. If you haven't read Jane Austen, and happen to read this book first, you will see why Jane Austen is so popular.

Here are a few quotes as example, collected in this book:

What dreadful Hot weather we have!- It keeps one in continual state of inelegance.

Friendship is certainly the finest balm for the pangs of disappointed love.

"It is such a happiness when good people get together and they always do." Miss Bates, in Emma

"The ladies probably exchanged looks which meant 'Men never know when things are dirty or not,' and the gentlemen perhaps thought each to himself, 'Women will have their little nonsenses and needless cares.'" from Emma.

".... there are certainly not so many men of large fortune in the world, as there are pretty women to deserve them" from Mansfield Park

"a lady's imagination is very rapid, it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment." Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice

"If I loved you less, I might be able to talk about it more." from Emma

'A large income is the best recipe for happiness I ever heard of. It certainly may secure the myrtle and turkey part of it." Mansfield Park

"The person, be it gentlemen or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." Northanger Abbey

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