Categories: Opinion

Mehreen Farhan

I have read a couple of Jane Austen books consecutively and I self righteously think I have the right to write a general review of Austen’s books. If you are an Austen fan, you need not take this so-called Jane Austen book review to heart; I write in a genuinely light-hearted way and I solemnly declare (in a very Jane-Austenish style!) that I have read her books because she has never failed to entertain as a writer. Still, shameless as I am, the writer in me is bent on shedding some light how an eastern brunette head might view the English culture these books depict.

Thanks to one of my friends, I am hooked to old literature again. One of the main reasons I will still buy an oldie as opposed to so many cool books new literature has to offer is that an oldie will always turn out a classic. Whereas with a new lit book, it’s always a chance I take. An old book will always be a keeper and it will always prove to be a good addition to my book collection.

“Hello. I am the heroine of the novel. I am fair and white, and belong to a respected class of society. Respectability in my society has an entirely different definition.”

‘Take that, you imbecile!’

Though all societies have come a long way in maturing their definition of what respectability is or should be, these old classic books show it in an entirely different way. Respectability is all about family background, money, property, outwardly etiquette, and certain skills peculiar to each sex. An eligible woman should be fair and lovely, should have a very decent ancient lineage, a decent annual income of her own and some trifling small skills like knowing a few languages, music, history and art. For men, add a handful of a few more skills and valor will go a long way.

“You may be the hero of the novel, but I am the heroine; and that makes me the BOSS.”

‘What do you mean I’ve been self centered!?’

The hero is, by designation, the most prominent person in the book, but Jane’s books are female oriented. That means no matter what happens, the lady of the novel gets to enjoy all the limelight. The guy has his fair share of trails and predicaments too, but let us save all the tears, the sensibilities and all the dramatic scenes for the lady. She gets this chance because, after all, she is a lady and the writer is also a lady, so you know who’s boss.

“Since we are at a serious loss of modern technology, a little gossip won’t hurt.”

‘Did you hear about that girl who got a nose job?’

If you thought today’s technology is a good way to circulate information around, you haven’t met a gossiping woman yet. That is the fastest mode of sending out news till date. And if you want it to fire out even faster, specifically ask your girl friend not to breath a word about it to anyone. More than half the troubles and misunderstandings in these books arise from women with small minds and big mouths. The part where inferences are drawn are the best. There is no limit to how screwy one piece of gossip can get at the delicate hands of these gracious ladies.


“Oh, how I Love thee, let me count the ways!”

‘May I, madam?’

I love, love, love how deliciously these old ladies and gentleman talk to each other. Be it words of love or giving a sound hearing to someone. They won’t get obscene or downright low. They will wrap up their emotions in flowery phrases and scrumptious words that you will love to devour to bits. The rude remark hits the villain much harder in this underlying tone of courtesy than it would if it were said plainly and without “grace”.


“And we will sing and dance the night away. That’s the way the gentry roll!”

You have to hand it to them, no matter what the situation is, dire as it may be, these ladies and gentlemen will love to have a singing and dancing session at the end of the day. Dancing is just one of the many ways they indulge in the fun of courting. Because at the end of the day who marries who becomes one more plus point in their list of what makes them respectable. Sheesh!

Enough with my list. If any fan of Jane Austen is reading this, I would like to clarify once more that this is wholly my personal opinion about the kind of lifestyle such books depict. This list is by no means complete/incomplete nor is it listed in any particular order. Jane Austen’s books are popular completely on merit. If it weren’t for her captivating stories and graceful writing style, we wouldn’t be reading her. And it is purely out of such qualities that I bought all her prominent classics and added them to grace my book collection. Her work is timeless; history proves it. It is only the aspiring writer in me that got inspired to try and write about her work and style in a new fun way.

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