Austin for a New Generation?

(I will be reviewing this particular unabridged edition of S&S, not Jane Austin’s novel itself, which needs no praise from me.)

A new Jane Austin book to read and review? Go ahead, twist my arm. I guess I’ll manage somehow.  While trolling Bethany House’s catalog of new books, the S&S Insight Edition jumped out at me. I looked forward to seeing what sort of annotating they had done; when it arrived what I found wasn’t quite what I’d expected. Instead of scholarly notes and definitions of every unusual word or term, what we have here is more like a friendly chat between girl friends. Want to know which TV/movie version of that scoundrel Willoughby the contributors would most like to rescue them in a rainstorm? See page 46. What exactly is that “putrid fever” Marianne struggles with in chapter 43? Typhus. Have you ever thought to choose your least favorite characters as the story progresses? They have, and keeping up with their changing list fun to watch.

There are some explanations in here of outmoded words and customs, and interesting examples of parallels between events in the novel and Jane’s own life. A few reminders of Biblical principles are included, as well. The notes are written along side the text, marked with icons like a movie camera, (modern cultural references), or an open book, (comments on characters or dialogue). While a bit of this struck me as simply silly, most it was thought provoking, or at the least light hearted enough to make me smile. One of my favorites asides occurs at the end of Chapter 7. To quote Austin, “she, (Marianne), was reasonable enough to allow that a man of five-and-thirty might well have outlived all acuteness of feeling and every exquisite power of enjoyment. She was perfectly disposed to make every allowance for the Colonel’s advanced state of life which humanity required.” Their comment?  “Those of us over 35 would like to take offense, but we’ve outlived the ability to be annoyed.” If this doesn’t make you smile, wait a few years. It will.

The above example notwithstanding, while I read this edition of S&S, I kept thinking what a delightful gift this would make for a girl or young adult’s first meeting with Elinore and Marianne. The amusing notes and references to modern movie versions, actress and actors would encourage more reluctant readers. Those already predisposed to love Austin would find the bits of extra information only add to their fun. The Biblical references are helpful but no too frequent, so this book could be given to anyone, not just Christian readers.

It turns out that Bethany House offers a similar edition of P&P. I intend to pick it up soon. I’m so thankful they’re making these classics available in a fresh form for new readers.
 A discussion guide is included in the back. 
I highly recommend this book.  

(I received this book without charge from the Bethany House in exchange for a review. I don’t review books that I wouldn’t consider reading anyway, and don’t give special consideration to books I receive for free. All opinions are my own. Honestly.)