Today is the 235 birthday of Jane Austen. In celebration Amazon has a number of Jane Austen and related titles free. Most will be only available free today. There are so many I will split into a second post.
Jane Austen Books
These special editions include the famous illustrations by Charles Edmond Brock, created in 1898. Brock and his brothers were all successful illustrators of the day and often posed for each other using costumes, props and furniture in their Cambridge studio. Brock’s younger brother, Henry, also illustrated Austen’s books and joined him in illustrating other Austen releases for this set of 1898 editions.
Sense and Sensibility, first published in 1811, was Austen’s first published novel. The story revolves around the Misses Dashwood, Elinor and Marianne, left in reduced circumstances after their father’s death. Their new home is a cottage on a distant relative’s property, where they experience both romance and heartbreak.
Marianne meets the dashing John Willoughby who courts her with poetry and flowers. Meanwhile, staid, sober neighbor Colonel Brandon also falls in love with Marianne, but she makes her preference for his rival clear. Elinor is in love with the diffident Edward Ferrars, a young man of good breeding and high moral standing. Their sentiments are quite compatible but his ambitious sister Fanny has other plans for him and works to separate these kindred souls.
As true love finds its way to persevering over all obstacles, the impetuous sister gains maturity and balance and the cautious sister has her emotional awakening.
Pride and Prejudice was published anonymously in 1813. It was Jane Austen’s second novel and became her most popular. Considered by many to be the very first romance novel, the book features Elizabeth, an independent-minded heroine, and Darcy, a dark, brooding, rich, handsome hero. Jane Austen’s wit and insight into human nature are legendary and make Pride and Prejudice a book to be savored over and over again.
Pride and Prejudice is the deceptively simple story of Elizabeth Bennet, second eldest of five unmarried daughters of an affable country gentleman and a very silly lady whose mission in life is to marry them off. When a wealthy young man moves into the neighborhood, he brings with him his friend Mr. Darcy, who falls in love with Elizabeth – much to his own chagrin – after insulting her and earning the derision of the entire neighborhood. The necessity for both of them to overcome their pride and see each other for the people they really are is the backbone of an enduring comedy of manners and love story.
Northanger Abbey was Austen’s first completed novel but was published posthumously in 1817. Austen sold the novel to a bookseller in 1803 – for £10 – who decided not to publish it. Her brother bought it back for the same amount after her death.
Catherine Morland is the daughter of a country clergyman, one of ten children. She devours Gothic novels and has an active imagination. After a lively season in Bath, she is invited to Northanger Abbey, where she finds the house is not the dark, moody Gothic mansion of her imaginings.
xCatherine’s exciting season in Bath leads her to become acquainted with the dashing John Thorpe, who encourages her flights of fancy and attempts to divert her from his rival Henry Tilney. But Henry extends an invitation she can’t resist and she finds herself visiting Northanger Abbey. There, as a “heroine in training,” she is determined to bring one of her favorite Gothic novels to life, but the charming and very down to earth Mr. Tilney eventually brings her to see that real life can be even more interesting than the most spine-chilling Gothic fantasy.
Mansfield Park is Jane Austen’s version of a Cinderella story. Fanny Price is a poor relation living with her rich uncle and aunt, Sir Thomas and Lady Bertram, and their children. Edmund, the second son, is the only one who treats her with kindness and they develop a strong bond, until the dashing Henry Crawford and his lovely sister Mary come to visit. The Crawfords are outwardly charming, but their indifferent upbringing leaves them unable to distinguish right from wrong, and Fanny must watch her beloved Edmund almost fall into Mary’s trap.
Fanny Price is meek and mild, and unfailingly good. When the Crawfords introduce risky activities into her social set, she tries to prevent disaster, but the production of a play leads all the members of the family astray and Edmund almost falls irretrievably in love with the beautiful Mary. Fanny watches with trepidation and much pain, until Edmund’s own high sense of morality brings him to the right conclusions about which is the better woman, on the inside.
In conceiving Emma Woodhouse, Jane Austen set out to create a heroine “whom no-one but myself will much like.” A naive and spoiled young lady, she is at the pinnacle of local society and lives with her doddering father. Her neighbor Mr. Knightley is the hero of the tale. Ten years her senior, he sees Emma’s faults, and delights in pointing them out to her.
Emma, as an heiress, has no need to marry, but she feels strongly that her less fortunate friends must certainly do so, and she is tireless in promoting the best interests of those she holds dear. Her first project is her new friend Harriet Smith, a young lady of unknown parentage, but sweet disposition. After thoroughly disrupting a match between Harriet and a handsome young local farmer, Emma pushes Harriet to aim for the vicar, who himself has his eye on Emma. By the time that misunderstanding is untangled, Emma has Mr. Knightley thoroughly disapproving of her. Against the backdrop of Highbury society, Emma is a charming tale of a young woman coming of age, learning to mind her own business, and discovering her own heart resides with the strong, steadfast gentleman next door.
Persuasion was Austen’s last completed novel, published in 1816 and featuring a heroine who has rejected her true love when her family and friends discourage the match. When he reappears eight years later, having made his fortune, Anne Elliott must now decide whether she is strong-willed enough to decide for herself where her own best interests lie.
Eight years after rejected suitor Frederick Wentworth goes off to sea, Sir Elliott’s extravagance has forced his family into reduced circumstances. His daughter, twenty-seven year old Anne, no longer expects to marry, and has fond memories and somewhat stinging regrets about her decision to turn Frederick down at the urging of her family, who wanted her to aim higher. When Wentworth returns, having made his fortune, Anne is given a second chance at love, but she must be strong enough to think and decide for herself, then find a way to win him back.