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New fiction: Love and Freindship (sic): And Other Delusions by Beth Andrews

9780719813856Love and Freindship was written when Jane Austen was just 14, and foreshadows the conflict between moral obligation and individual desire which animates Austen’s mature comedic efforts such as Sense and Sensibility. Now updated in this sparkling satire by Beth Andrews, the story follows Isabel and her daughter Marianne when they attend the theatre in Bury St Edmunds and encounter Isabel’s old friend, Laura Lindsay, who gives her journal to Marianne to read. It is a revelation to the younger woman as she reads of one hilarious madcap romantic escapade after another.

There is love at first sight, marriage the same day, the befriending of another young woman as romantic as Laura herself, exaggerated sentiment and complete disregard for the feelings of others. Havoc inevitably ensues. This is Jane Austen retold but retaining her huge capacity for laughter and enjoyment of the absurd. The book includes the Jane Austen’s version of Love and Freindship
– complete with uncorrected spelling.

Love and Freindship is published on October 31st. Author Beth Andrews discusses how she updated Austen’s original text:

“Re-writing Jane Austen seems a bit like attempting ‘to gild refined gold, to paint the lily, to throw a perfume on the violet.’  Still, fools and writers (surely members of the same species) tend to rush in where angels would hesitate to set foot.  The variations on Pride and Prejudice, and Austen’s five other adult novels, are Legion.  Nobody seemed to think that Love and Freindship was worthy of similar mistreatment, but I was determined to rectify this glaring omission.

Although the heroine of this novella is unique in the Austen canon, in that she has learned absolutely nothing at the end of her story, I felt that even a third-rate novelist like myself could improve things by introducing a sub-plot in which a minor character does actually learn a thing or two.  I also recklessly abandoned the creaky epistolary style of the original, threw in references to other Austen works and even a mild joke borrowed from one of my own books, added a host of anachronisms, and committed various other atrocities such as inventing a very different ending.   The kitchen sink may be missing, but not much else.

At this point, I considered my work accomplished.  It may lack the classic melodrama of Jane Eyrehead, with its delectable madwoman in the attic (though Laura might well have evolved into such a character); nor is it explicit enough to be mistaken for a more modern masterpiece like 500 Shades of Puce.  However, in its own small way, I feel it has made a considerable contribution to the moral and intellectual decline of the present generation, and may well serve as a prime example of the nadir of artistic achievement at which Western Civilization has finally arrived.  This may seem like an idle boast to many, but the current trend in self-promotion makes outrageous hyperbole a virtual necessity (please note that I have deliberately changed the names of the last two novels mentioned above, for the simple reason that I felt like it.).”

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