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.