How to Read (and Understand) a Jane Austen Novel
I love Jane Austen novels, but they can be so hard to read at times. Most of us are not accustomed to 1800s English so of course, it’s difficult. Austen’s writing is definitely worth the effort it takes to read.
She has many books to choose from and I am working on reading them all! Thus far I have read Sense and Sensibility, Emma, and Persuasion. Sense and Sensibility was the first Jane Austen novel I read because it was on my school’s summer reading list. I absolutely fell in love with the characters and the storyline kept me on my toes the whole time.
Currently, I am reading Pride and Prejudice!
Here are a few tips that have helped me:
1. Deciding the book!
a)This is probably the most difficult part since she does have so many! I would recommend, of the ones I have read, Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice. Emma is very long and a bit slow for me. I loved Persuasion and it is one of the shortest ones; however, the main character is a bit “older” so depending on your age it may be more difficult to connect with her.
2. Find the audio version (separately or in addition to your physical copy)
b) Your public library’s audiobook
3. Use the (free) app Lit Charts
a) Lit Charts gives a summary and analysis of each chapter. While you probably won’t need that much detail, it's
great if you are reading for school!
4. Watch it
a) Normally, I would not advise on watching the movie before the book but it may be helpful so that you know what is going on. This is mainly if you are reading a Jane Austen in an academic setting.