1 ) Emma
Sherry reads Jane Austen’s sparkling comedy of manners with wit and vivacity, and brings the characters to life. Mr. Woodhouse worries and frets, Miss Bates chatters on, and Emma blithely manipulates and misunderstands her friends and family until she finally learns her lesson!
2) Lady Susan
Jane Austen demonstrated her mastery of the epistolary novel genre in Lady Susan, which she wrote in 1795 but never published. Although the primary focus of this short novel is the selfish behavior of Lady Susan as she engages in affairs and searches for suitable husbands for herself and her young daughter, the actual action shares its importance with Austen’s manipulation of her characters’ behavior by means of their reactions to the letters that they receive. The heroine adds additional interest by altering the tone of her own letters based on the recipient of the letter. Thus, the character of Lady Susan is developed through many branches as Austen suggests complications of identity and the way in which that identity is based on interaction rather than on solitary constructions of personality. Lady Susan’s character is also built by the descriptions of the other letter-writers; but even though their opinions of this heroine coincide with the image that develops from her own letters, Austen demonstrates the subjectivity of the opinions by presenting them – primarily – in the letters of one woman to another, thereby suggesting the established literary motifs of feminine gossip and jealousy. Readers recognize these subjective motifs and examine all of the idiosyncrasies of the characters in order to create their own opinion of Lady Susan – as they would of any real acquaintance.
3) Love and Friendship
Love and Freindship [sic] is a juvenile story by Jane Austen, dated 1790, when Austen was 14 years old. 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 neatly undercuts the title.
Written in epistolary form, it resembles a fairy tale as much as anything else, featuring wild coincidences and turns of fortune, but Austen is determined to lampoon the conventions of romantic stories, right down to the utter failure of romantic fainting spells, which always turn out dreadfully for the female characters.
In this story one can see the development of Austen’s sharp wit and disdain for romantic sensibility, so characteristic of her later novels.
4) Mansfield Park
Mansfield Park features Austen’s frailest and perhaps most scrupulous heroine, Fannie Price. As the eldest daughter in a poor family, Fannie is sent to rich relatives when she’s just old enough to fully appreciate the shame of her circumstances. Without pride or prejudice, Fanny sticks to principles in all matters. And matters certainly put her to the test.
5) Northanger Abbey
Northanger Abbey is a hilarious parody of 18th century gothic novels. The heroine, 17-year old Catherine, has been reading far too many “horrid” gothic novels and would love to encounter some gothic-style terror — but the superficial world of Bath proves hazardous enough.
Anne Elliott, Jane Austen’s only aging heroine, has devoted her life to caring for her financially irresponsible family. Just when she is growing content with her uneventful lifestyle, a long-lost flame re-enters the picture — now as the beau of her significantly younger cousin. Anne is now faced with a choice: will she watch Captain Wentworth settle into life with another woman, or will she strive to win back his love and escape her family?
7) Pride and Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is the most famous of Jane Austen’s novels, and its opening is one of the most famous lines in English literature – “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” Its manuscript was first written between 1796 and 1797, and was initially called First Impressions, but was never published under that title. Following revisions it was published on 28 January 1813 by the same Mr. Egerton of the Military Library, Whitehall, who had brought out Sense and Sensibility. Like both its predecessor and Northanger Abbey, it was written at Steventon Rectory.
8) Sense and Sensibility
The two eldest Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, one of whom (Elinor) embraces practicality and restraint while the other (Marianne) gives her whole heart to every endeavor. When the Dashwoods – mother Mrs. Dashwood, Elinor, Marianne, and youngest sister Margaret – are sent, almost impoverished, to a small cottage in Devonshire after the death of their father and the machinations of their brother’s wife, they accept their new circumstances with as much cheer as they can muster even though their brother and his wife have taken over the family estate and fortune. Marianne finds herself falling in love with the dashing Willoughby, who ends up being not all that he appears. Elinor, the more sensible of the two, falls for Edward Ferrars, a match that seems much more suitable. All of these pleasant connections are, however, soon disrupted. Willoughby leaves and ignores Marianne. Elinor finds out an unexpected secret about Ferrars that puts her on her caution in pursuing their relationship. As these complications develop, Marianne soon finds herself distraught despite having attracted another suitor, the reliable, but older, Colonel Brandon. Elinor steps into the breach to try to help her sister regain her equilibrium. Both learn what a broken heart can feel like and adjust in their own separate ways. Since this is an Austen novel and a romance, be assured that all comes right in the end.
9) The Watsons
This fragment of a novel was written by Jane Austen in 1804 and remained untitled and unpublished until her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh printed it in his A Memoir of Jane Austen in 1871. The title is from him.
Mr Watson is a widowed clergyman with two sons and four daughters. The youngest daughter, Emma, has been brought up by a wealthy aunt and is consequently better educated and more refined than her sisters. But when her aunt contracts a foolish second marriage, Emma is obliged to return to her father’s house. There she is chagrined by the crude and reckless husband-hunting of two of her twenty-something sisters.
10) The History of England
At the age of 16, Jane Austen wrote a parody of Oliver Goldsmith's "History of England. "She entitled her work The History of England, but added "By a partial, prejudiced, & ignorant Historian... There will be very few Dates in this History.)" She never did like "perfection," preferring rather to employ her wit to provide some representative version of society.
11) Memoir of Jane Austen (by James Edward Austen-Leigh)
“The Memoir of my Aunt, Jane Austen, has been received with more favour than I had ventured to expect. The notices taken of it in the periodical press, as well as letters addressed to me by many with whom I am not personally acquainted, show that an unabated interest is still taken in every particular that can be told about her. I am thus encouraged not only to offer a Second Edition of the Memoir, but also to enlarge it with some additional matter which I might have scrupled to intrude on the public if they had not thus seemed to call for it. In the present Edition, the narrative is somewhat enlarged, and a few more letters are added; with a short specimen of her childish stories. The cancelled chapter of ‘Persuasion’ is given, in compliance with wishes both publicly and privately expressed. A fragment of a story entitled ‘The Watsons’ is printed; and extracts are given from a novel which she had begun a few months before her death; but the chief addition is a short tale never before published, called ‘Lady Susan.’ I regret that the little which I have been able to add could not appear in my First Edition; as much of it was either unknown to me, or not at my command, when I first published; and I hope that I may claim some indulgent allowance for the difficulty of recovering little facts and feelings which had been merged half a century deep in oblivion.”