Love & Freindship by Jane Austen

Love and Freindship by Jane Austen is among her earliest stories written for her family’s entertainment, and she’s said to have written it sometime between ages 14 and 17.  Yes, it is complete with misspellings in the title and throughout the short story, which unfolds in letters mostly from Laura to Marianne.  Laura tells a tale of misfortune and love to an apparently young and impressionable Marianne, her friend Isabel’s daughter.

The story begins with a plea from Isabel to Laura to discuss her misfortunes with Marianne, perhaps as a way to warn Isabel’s daughter away from similar hassles and heartache.  It is clear that Laura and Isabel’s relationship has been long given the frankness of the letters, which in some instances clearly illustrate flaws they find in one another.  In a letter from Isabel to Laura, “Surely that time is now at hand.  You are this day fifty-five.  If a woman may ever be said to be in safety from the determined Perseverance of disagreable Lovers and the cruel Persecutions of obstinate Fathers, surely it must be at such a time of Life.”  (page 3)

Much of this story is comical in that Laura is always fainting with her friend Sophia or she is running around madly because of one misfortune or other.  Otherwise, there are chance meetings with unknown and lost relatives that send Laura into dramatic action.

“She was all sensibility and Feeling.  We flew into each others arms and after having exchanged vows of mutual Freindship for the rest of our Lives, instantly unfolded to each other the most inward secrets of our Hearts–.”  (page 11)

Love and Freindship shows some signs of the writer Austen became, but it also showcases her novice writing skills.  Entertaining as this short story is, readers may find it too short to fully grasp the depth of these characters.  Marianne and Isabel are merely on the periphery and their characters are only seen through Laura’s eyes, who has her own biases.  Laura’s explanation of her marriage and other events often includes highly dramatic, even soap opera-ish, description and commentary.

This is my 11th book for the Jane Austen Challenge 2010.

This is my 7th book for the Everything Austen II Challenge.