I do love the Penguin Little Black Classics. So much so that I want to collect them…but as of right now I only have three. Which is a bit of a pathetically small collection, considering there’s 80.
But you know, got to start somewhere, right?
Let’s talk about The Beautifull Cassandra!
(And yes it is spelt like that. Yes, it’s bothers me slightly too.)
Title: The Beautifull Cassandra
Author: Jane Austen
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Series status: Standalone
Genre: Classic, Short Story
Number of Pages: 55
(Found on back cover, see another version on Goodreads)
Austen’s riotous early stories of drunks, poisoners and prison-breaks, written for her family’s entertainment when she was a teenager.
How do I write a review for a book that’s just a bit bigger than my hand? Well, I’ll try my best.
Because as short as it was, I loved this book!
I looked at the Goodreads reviews after to see what other people thought, and I’m honestly shocked to see quite a lot of the reviews are bad. Granted, I can understand why. This is a small collection of short stories, all of them written by Jane Austen when she was a teenager for her family’s entertainment. There was no intention of them being published – and so they’re hardly going to be up to the standard many fans know her for. She was younger, and they were just a bit of fun. I can see how they might disappoint those who expect so much from her.
But personally, I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice so far. I adored it, and will be reading ALL of Jane Austen’s books over the next few months as part of the Austentatious book club. So I do admit that I’m not yet used to Jane Austen’s way of writing.
But I went into this little book knowing she wrote them as a teenager. Knowing she wrote them either when she was my age or younger. Knowing they were just a bit of fun for her family. So really, I didn’t expect anything from this apart from a lighter classic for me to read, to encourage me to read more.
And that’s what I got! Though “lighter” probably isn’t the right word, considering the amount of scandalous events going on in this short amount of pages.
It’s very obvious that these aren’t serious stories. That they’re made purely for entertainment. And it’s clearly not the sort of book where you grow attached to characters and places – I mean, by the time you’ve gotten used to the names, you’ll have moved on. But I feel like it fits its purpose perfectly for me, because I found myself laughing and smiling all the way through.
The events of these stories are just outrageous, in the way that if they actually happened during Austen’s time, they’d be the scandal of the year. Well, even if they happened now they’d be shocking (and rightly so – death was quite a popular topic it seems). What amused me the most though was the way it was written. The way some passages were worded made me laugh to myself out loud. They wouldn’t even be particularly funny – but it would amuse me all the same.
“She assured her that except her Father, Brother, Uncles, Aunts, Cousins, and other relations, Lady Williams, Charles Adams and a few dozen more of particular friends, she loved her better than almost any other person in the world.”
Just a few people ahead of her on that list, then?
I can just tell this will be the sort of thing I’ll re-read again and again. I’ve already read certain scenes back, right when I finished it. I flipped back through and tabbed my favourite parts. I just can’t help but imagine young Jane Austen sitting and writing these stories, experimenting with different characters and events…all of it being practice for the classics so many people know and love now. Something about that thought amazes me.
Sure, this might not be as spectacularly written as her typical classics. But they were fun, highly amusing, and a wonderful sneak peak into the whimsies of her younger life.
Rated 4/5 stars!
– It’s literally 80p, you can’t really go wrong if you want to try it out!
Share your thoughts!
Have you read this book? What did you think?
If you haven’t read this book, do you plan to?
Have you read any of Jane Austen’s other books? Which is your favourite?
Let me know in the comments!
Until next time…
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