Austen 200: which novels are worth your time?

18 July, 2017 marks 200 years since the death of Jane Austen. The beloved author holds a special place in many people's hearts, whether for her acerbic wit in the narration of her novels, her wonderful heroines or even the fantastic adaptations the novels have inspired.

Austen 200: which novels are worth your time?

You're going to see a lot more of her as it has been announced she will appear on the new £10 note. But where to start if you want to pick up an Austen novel? It may be controversial, but here are my suggestions:

Northanger Abbey, 1818 posthumously

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Have you ever read or watched something scary or scandalous and got a little too caught up in it? Of course you have. Catherine Moreland is no different, as a fan of Gothic Romance, her imagination runs wild when she is invited to stay at Northanger Abbey. This is a good starting point for Austen as it is a short novel, it is a satire and, best of all, it is a book about reading.

Sense and Sensibility, 1811

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A little bit more of a romance, Sense and Sensibility is about two very different sisters and their struggles to find love and happiness. Again, one of Austen's funnier novels, as she draws a lot of humour from two sisters who couldn't be more different and the ridiculousness of the society they are trying to survive in.

Emma, 1815

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Emma is headstrong and foolish but she knows her own mind and that is something to be said for this period. This is the perfect coming-of-age novel for any teen or twenty-something as it balances the need to hold strong convictions and know your mind, with some sharp life lessons about the common 'faults' of youth.

Pride and Prejudice, 1813

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The best known work is quite far down on this list, well, because you probably know it. I bet you've seen some kind of adaptation (Bride and Prejudice definitely counts!) or at least vaguely know the plot. If you've read some other Austen and are keen, then it is still a good read but if you are only going to read one, try one you don't know.

Persuasion, 1818 posthumously

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This book is not for everyone and if you are a Lizzie Bennett fan be aware that Anne Elliott is her polar opposite, but an Austen fan can still appreciate her style. If however, you find the more headstrong heroines insufferable, then maybe the more reserved Anne is for you.

Mansfield Park, 1814

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Only for Austen aficionados, this book is one of her slower paced works with a much more shy heroine. However, if you can persevere with a book that isn't even full of 'busy nothings' then you will be treated to some of Austen's most scathing social commentary and some of her funniest lines.

And if you are a super-fan, there's always her novel Lady Susan, her juvenilia and even her letters! Or tune in to one of the many fantastic adaptations. What will you be reading or watching for #Austen200?


  • Header image from janeausten200.nl
  • gifs from Giphy

Author

Ellen Orange

Ellen Orange Voice Reporter

I am a 23 year old Graduate Marketing Assistant from the North East with a passion for arts and writing. I did a BA in English Literature and an MA in Twentieth and Twenty First Century Literature at Durham University, because I love books and reading! I have experience in writing for a variety of student publications, as well as having contributed to Living North, a regional magazine and Culture magazine, a supplement to regional newspaper, The Journal. I have been part of a Young Journalists scheme writing for NewcastleGateshead's Juice Festival, a you people's arts and culture festival, and have since become a Team Juice member. As well as reading and writing, I love theatre, photography and crafts.

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