Jane Austen (1775-1817) is one of the best known and widely read English novelists out there, and her 1811 book Sense and Sensibility, which she signed anonymously "A Lady," was the book... More > that kicked off her career. It focuses on Elinor and Marianne, sisters who are left impoverished after their father Mr. Dashwood dies, whose estate goes to his son. They move to a cottage on a relative's property where there are boys in the mix: the shy Edward and the dashing Willougby. Romance and heartbreak ensue.
The title of the book refers to the character of each sister, though the words sense and sensibility held different meanings in early 19th century England. 'Sense' referred to intelligence and 'Sensibility' to the emotions, and though each sister embodies one of these characteristics, Austen is artistically vague about which belongs to whom.< Less
A masterpiece of English literature, Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice follows the life of Elizabeth Bennet as she maneuvers the obstacles of society: manners, morality, education and marriage in... More > early 19th century England. Elizabeth is a classic heroine of that period - she's bright, magnanimous, full of good sense, and she can deliver a verbal lashing while remaining perfectly proper.
What better a playing field for drama than a wealthy father with three daughters in 19th century England? It's a battle of the sexes played out in brilliant detail, with unforgettable characters and exceptional dialogue. It has sold more than 20 million copies, and has been on the top of the heap of the best books of all time since its publication.< Less
Persuasion, published in 1818, is Jane Austen's last completed novel. In it she renders the most minute details of her cast, the English upper-middle-class of the early 19th century. Anne Elliot is... More > the heroine of the story - for years she has suffered from the decision to break it off with a man she loved dearly. Austen details the cause and effect of her breakup, analyzing the British class system and its adherents. Persuasion might be Austen's most romantic, prominently featuring offset but undying love.
In this way too, Persuasion is like a fairy tale. The handsome Wentworth who prefers the affection of the other girls; the tension between Anne and he building up gradually. Finally it builds into a flurry of romantic awesomeness that I won't spoil. For its charm and romance, the reality of the book wasn't all too rosy. Austen, the queen of English letters, unfortunately didn't see this work published. She would die just before it came out at the tender age of 41.< Less