Tuesday, 28 July 2020

Jack and Alice [#books #review]

by Jane Austen


I never shall forget her last words. 'My dear Kitty she said, Good night t'ye.' I never saw her afterwards. She eloped with the Butler the same night.
Lady Williams
(Page 25)

The first drawing of the novel.
This (very short) novel is part of the so-called Juvenilia, a collection of short works that Jane Austen wrote in a period of time in which she was practically a girl: between twelve and eighteen years old. In particular when she wrote Jack and Alice she was fifteen. All this makes me shiver because this kid had already an incredible talent: she shows quite a sense of humour and a predilections for teasing that in the future she will be able to refine and make more subtle and less direct, but which, however, is already recognisable, albeit immature, in this story.

The plot unravel itself through parties, dances, meetings, stories, jokes: we are already there, the style already reflects the one of her most mature works. The book is very small, you can read it all in one time, and in those few pages everything happens! We even have a murder, I wasn't expecting that! The ending at first seemed to me a little brusque, but in retrospect I find it perfect to end the whole story with those few words.

The silhouettes of all the characters in the novel.

The setting is the imaginary village of Pammydiddle. Physically it's not very characterised, but there's really too little time to deepen the descriptions, and the attention is entirely focused on the characters. Compared to the usual Austenian ones, here we have much more extreme characters, like parodies of themselves. The main character, for example, Alice, comes from a family of big drinkers and she too is used to getting drunk very frequently. The young Lucy, like Alice in love with the handsome Charles, doesn't accept a no as an answer from her beloved, and reminds me very much of Mr Collins, Elizabeth's pretender in Pride and Prejudice. And Charles himself is a bit of an exasperation of Darcy: aware of his many qualities, including extraordinary beauty, he wants a wife who is perfect in everything like he is (so LOL his speech!). At the beginning, the characters are shown to us all, in a few words, in a wonderful roundup, and all of them have strengths but also flaws, except for Sukey, who is evil and Ugly, and Lady Williams that on the contrary brings together all the virtues. I think she is the character I loved most because this characteristic of hers doesn't appear in her behaving, as she is as fallacious as everyone else!

Pages 20 and 21 with the background of the
circular spots left by the bottles of wine.

I read this book in an italian translation, and I'm a little sorry for that, but, oh well, surely sooner or later I'll read all the Juvenilia, and I think I'll read them in English. Above all this, anyway, my edition was truly beautiful! Indeed it is enriched by Andrea Joseph's original drawings, perfectly in line with the spirit of the book.

A very short story to devour, ora, actually, given the theme, to drink in one breath! Lively and amusing, it doesn't avoid some surprises. In the sometimes excessive style, all the genius of the author is already manifested, even if she was still a girl when she wrote this. The illustrations that accompany this edition are perfectly inserted and spot on. A really adorable little book!

Quotes

Mr Johnson was once upon a time about 53; in a twelve-month afterwards he was 54, which so much delighted him that he was determined to celebrate his next Birthday by giving a Masquerade to his Children and Freinds.
[incipit]

A fortnight's residence there had nearly effaced from her remembrance the captivating form of Charles - The recollection of what her Heart had formerly suffered by his charms and her Leg by his trap, enabled her to forget him with tolerable Ease, which was what she determined to do; and for that purpose dedicated five minutes in every day to the employment of driving him from her remembrance.
(Page 55)

That one should receive obligations only from those we despise, is a sentiment instilled into my mind by my worthy aunt, in my early years.
Lucy
(Page 58)

The 2 first of whom had a most sincere regard for her, more particularly Alice, who had spent a whole evening in her company and had never thought of her since.
(Page 66)

1 comment:

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Jack and Alice [#books #review]

by Jane Austen Rating: 9 /10 I never shall forget her last words. 'My dear Kitty she said, Good night t'ye.' I never sa...