Recently started reading Jane Austen’s books and looking for some of the best Jane Austen books? Don’t worry, in this article, we have compiled six of her finished best works as well as some of her unfinished work that you can start reading.
Jane Austen, an English writer was born on 16 December 1775 in England. She was well known for her six major novels, which gently landed interpretations, criticisms, and comments on the British at the end of the 18th century.
She gave the work its distinctively current tone by portraying regular people in everyday situations. Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815) were her four works published during her lifetime.
Her writings not only defined the novel manners of the time, but they also became timeless classics that have remained critical and popular hits for more than two centuries after her death.
8 Best Jane Austen Books
We recommend the following books if you are looking for some of the best books by Jane Austen:
1. Pride And Prejudice
Pride and Prejudice is a romantic novel by Jane Austen published in 1813. Publisher T. Egerton published this novel. It was her second novel and published anonymously. It has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language since its initial breakthrough in 1813.
This novel consistently ranked towards the top of the most loved novel list compiled by literacy critics and the mass audience. It has become one of the most successful novels in English literature with over 20 million copies sold.
“Nobody has ever been slyer with characters than Austen.” –Marlon James, “My 10 Favorite Books,” in T: The New York Times Style Magazine
Pride and Prejudice is a love story that tells the story of Bennet family, notably Elizabeth Bennet. It dives into the budding relationship between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, a wealthy neighbor.
It explores the character development of Elizabeth Bennet, the book’s lively protagonist who learns about the consequences of hasty judgments and grows to comprehend the distinction between superficial kindness and actual goodness. Its wit comes from its candid portrayal of etiquette, education, marriage, and money in England during the Regency period.
Mr. Bennet of the estate of Longbourn has five girls, yet his property is included and is passable only to a man. His wife does not have an inheritance, therefore when he dies, his family will be penniless.
It is therefore important that at least one of the girls marry properly, which motivates the narrative. Despite common pressure to make a match, the novel focuses on the significance of marriage for love instead than money or social reputation.
For over hundred-year, dramatic adaptations and reproductions of the work have depicted the unforgettable characters and ideas of the novel, its unauthorized sequels, movies and TV versions of Pride and Prejudice.
In the year 1940, an Academy Award-winning Film was made based on this novel. In 2005 another movie was released by the same name as this novel.
Persuasion is the last novel fully completed by Jane Austen. It was published in 1817, six months after her death. It is her most romantic novel. The novel was favorably appreciated at the beginning of the 19th century, but its greatest fame came later in the 20th and 21st centuries.
It’s widely regarded as her most mature novel, with a refinement of creative thought befitting a woman approaching forty.
“Critics, especially [recently], value Persuasion highly, as the author’s ‘most deeply felt fiction,’ ‘the novel which in the end the experienced reader of Jane Austen puts at the head of the list.’ . . . Anne wins back Wentworth and wins over the reader; we may, like him, end up thinking Anne’s character ‘perfection itself.’” –from the Introduction by Judith Terry
Anne Elliot, a twenty-seven-year-old heroine, is Austen’s most mature heroine. She is blissfully betrothed to a naval officer, Frederick Wentworth, eight years before the story proper begins, but she abruptly calls off the engagement after being convinced by her friend Lady Russell that such a match is unworthy.
A long-lasting regret is brought about by the break-up with Anne. After a rich and successful captain comes back from the sea, Wentworth finds the family of Anne in ruins, his own sister, a tenant at Elliot’s land in Kellynch Hall.
After a seven-year absence, Anne and Captain Wentworth, both unmarried and unattached, reunite, setting the stage for a series of amusing encounters as well as a second, well-considered chance at love and marriage for Anne in her second “bloom.”
Persuasion has been adapted in a number of ways, including four television versions, theater productions, radio broadcasts, and other literary works.
Jane Austen’s novel Emma is about adolescent arrogance and romantic misunderstandings. The novel was published in 1815 by John Murry. It is set in Highbury, a fictional country village and Hartfield, Randalls and Donwell Abbey estates, and covers ties between people from a small number of families.
Austen examines the problems and hardships of affluent women living in Georgia–Regency England as in her earlier books. Emma is a humorous comedy that describes themes related to marriage, sex, age, and social standing.
“Jane Austen is my favorite author! … Shut up in measureless content, I greet her by the name of most kind hostess, while criticism slumbers.” —EM Forster
Emma narrates the narrative of Emma, the main character, who is a sweet yet silly woman who lives in a fictional English town. Emma believes she knows everything and is proud of her ill-advised matchmaking skills. As a reader, it’s fascinating to observe how Emma sees herself in comparison to how others see her.
A variety of films, television shows, and stage plays have been based on this work. In 1995 a film named Clueless, a loose American modern adaptation of the novel. In 1996 and 2020 two other films were made by the same name of the novel.
Many television shows, mini web series on YouTube, stage plays and fiction have also been based on this novel.
4. Sense And Sensibility
Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility was published in 1811. It was published anonymously; the phrase “By A Lady” appears on the title page, possibly in place of the author’s name. In the middle of 1813, the work, which sold its first print run of 750, established its author’s success. Later that year, it had a second print.
The novel is set between 1792 and 1797 in south west England, London and Sussex. It follows the Dashwood sisters, Elinor and Marianne, as they grow older. They have a younger sister, Margaret, and an older half-brother, John.
“As nearly flawless as any fiction could be.”
Marianne Dieshwood wears her sleeve heart, and she rejects her sister Elinor’s warning that she will allow her impulse to be open to gossip and innuendo when her love falls in love with the untamed but unsuitable John Willoughby. Meanwhile, Elinor, always sensitive to social convention, struggles to hide even from the people close to her own romantic disappointment.
The sisters learn via their parallel love experience — and their potential loss — that sense must mix up with sensibility to discover personal pleasure in a company, in which position and money dominate the rules of love.
Since 1811, the work has continually been published and was illustrated, extracted, abridged and adapted several times for the theater, movie and TV.
5. Northanger Abbey
The first novel of Austen, completed in 1803, was published posthumously with persuasion in 1817. The novel was published by John Murry. It is a coming-of-edge novel and a satire of Gothic novels.
The novel is about the naive young protagonist Catherine Morland and her path to a better awareness of the world around her. Catherine meets and is in love with Henry Tilney, who invites her to visit her family estate in Northanger Abbey, while spending a few weeks in Bath with her family friend.
Once here, Catherine, a great Gothic reader, allows her head to be filled with awful suspicions by the shady atmosphere of the ancient manor.
What exactly is the mystery surrounding Henry’s mother’s death? Is the family hiding a horrific secret within the Abbey’s lovely rooms? Is she able to trust Henry, or is he a part of a sinister plot? Catherine sees omens in the most mundane circumstances until Henry persuades her of the dangers of conflating life and art.
Northanger Abbey is a joyful, yet unsentimental critique on love and marriage, executed with high-spirited verve.
A variety of films, television shows, and stage plays have been based on this work. In the year 1987, the A&E Network and the BBC released the television adaptation of this novel. Besides, in 2007, 2009, and 2013 several television adaptations have been released.
6. Mansfield Park
Mansfield Park is the third published novel by Jane Austen. It was first published in 1814 by Thomas Egerton. Mansfield Park is unlike anything else Austen has written. Critics and academics have described it as dark and psychologically challenging.
Austen’s heroes are frequently gregarious, lively, and self-assured. The higher and moral rigid characters save the day in Mansfield Park, while the traditional heroes of Austen are made the bad man.
Fanny Price is the protagonist of the novel, which begins when her overloaded family sends her to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle at the age of 10 and continues until her early adulthood.
“Never did any novelist make more use of an impeccable sense of human values.”
The Crawford’s move into the neighborhood while her uncle is away in Antigua, bringing with them the glitz of London life and a reckless desire for flirtation. With its calm protagonist and delicate analysis of social position and moral integrity, Mansfield Park is considered Jane Austen’s first mature work and one of her most deep.
A variety of films, television shows, and stage plays have been based on this work. BBC radio 4 adapted this novel in a show named Mans field Park in 1997. In 1999 a film was released by the same name of this novel.
7. The Watsons
The Watsons is the unfinished work by Austen, probably beginning about 1803. The manuscript fragment was eventually published in 1871, and Austen’s niece published a continuation based on it in 1850. Up till now, the story has been completed and adapted in various ways.
Emma Watson has no choice but to be reunited with her estranged father and siblings after her aunt’s death leaves her impoverished.
Emma is initially ecstatic with her new life including the fashionable society events to which she now has access but she quickly finds that her family is filled with resentment, not least because of the sisters’ hopes and disappointments in finding a spouse.
As a result, when the eligible and suitably wealthy Tom Musgrove begins to shift his affections from Margaret to Emma, it can only lead to more sibling rivalry and turmoil.
The Watsons is Jane Austen at her narrative best, a lovely, wonderfully painted portrayal of family life.
8. Lady Susan
Jane Austen’s Lady Susan is a short epistolary fiction written in 1794 but not published until 1871. The schemes of the title character are described in this early complete work, which the author never submitted for publication.
Lady Susan Vernon, who is beautiful, flirty, and recently widowed, seeks an opportune second marriage for herself while attempting to force her daughter into a bad match. With its humor and exquisite expression, this magnificently produced story of Regency manners and mores will satisfy Austen fans.
In 2009, Lady Susan was adapted by British writer Lucy Prebble for Celador Films and BBC 4. Lady Susan: Jane Austen’s Distinguished Flirt, a theatrical adaption by Bonnie Milne Gardner, was produced at Ohio Wesleyan University in 1998 and is published by Scripts for Stage.
In this theatre presented a two-woman version of Lady Susan at the Dublin fringe festival in 2001/2002.
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