As I’m reading Jane Austen in Context, I can’t help but feel that maybe I should re-read one of Austen’s novels. I almost picked one of them up the other day, but instead turned to Susan Ferrier’s novel Marriage, which was published one year after Austen’s death in 1818. I figured something from the same time period would do just as well. So far it’s highly entertaining, although not very Austen-like — which I don’t hold against it, as that would be unfair. If I didn’t know the date of publication and had to guess I would have said it was written earlier, as it reminds me of eighteenth-century novels such as Evelina, with its lively, humorous characters that — at least so far — are types rather than the fleshed-out characters that we’ve come to expect in novels.
But those types are highly entertaining — in Marriage we have the ill-educated, fashionable, vain young woman; several blustery, temper-prone fathers; a trio of foolish, prating aunts who believe that a good bowl of soup is the cure for everything; a young man swept off his feet by beauty, who quickly realizes his mistake, but does so too late.
The book is set in Scotland, where the ill-educated, fashionable, vain young woman, Lady Juliana, finds herself after her marriage. When she discovers just what she’s gotten herself into — life in a gloomy, isolated castle in the Scottish Highlands — she falls into fits of hysterics. Susan Ferrier lived in Edinburgh her whole life, and she seems to be enjoying making gentle fun of her own countrypeople as well as mocking the spoiled Englishwoman who can’t function away from fashionable society.
This book is good fun, and I’m only a little ways into it … I’ll post more on it later, I’m sure.
5 responses to “Marriage, the novel”
I imagine reading about Jane Austen would easily put you in the mood to read some of her fiction, but you’ve read them all now, haven’t you? Have you also read her juvenilia? I think the Ferrier does sound like it would be great fun too. You always post about the most interesting books.
The Ferrier sounds very appealing. In “The Watsons” Emma and her companions return from a ball and hash it over while eating soup. It must have been The Thing!
I never knew the eighteenth century could be such fun! So it’s not all Voltaire and Rousseau and social contracts and encyclopedists, then!
Danielle — yeah, I’ve read the major novels, and Lady Susan, The Watsons, and Sanditon. But there are still lots of early works I haven’t read — I will have to turn to those next!
Melanie — soup must have been so much the thing that Ferrier decided to make fun of it! The three aunts are quite funny, unintentionally so.
Litlove — oh, yes, the 18C is so much fun! If it were only Voltaire and Rousseau I wouldn’t be interested at all (nothing against those two authors, of course). I think of it as the century of sensibility and rakes and comedy and sex and romance — so much fun stuff!
Oh, this sounds like a fun book! I’ve added it to my TBR list and hopefully I will get to it someday.