Love and Friendship

Written by Beth Andrews
Review by Mike Ashworth

Love and Friendship was written when Jane Austen was 14 and foreshadows the conflict between moral obligation and individual desire which permeates many of her more well-known books. Updated by Beth Andrews, the story follows Isabel and her daughter, Marianne, when they attend the theatre in Bury St. Edmunds. They encounter Isabel’s old friend, Laura Lindsay, who gives Isabel a journal for Marianne to read. There is love at first sight, exaggerated sentiment, and a complete disregard for the feelings of others. Havoc inevitably ensues.

While familiar with Jane Austen’s classic work, I had no knowledge of this early work. It was interesting to see how her later novels are founded in this. The book also includes the original Austen version, with uncorrected spellings, which enables the reader to compare the two versions. Ms Andrews has kept the humour and enjoyment of the absurd, while bringing in modern concepts and ideas, and a changed ending. While this version may not appeal to Jane Austen purists, I found it intriguing and immensely readable. Try it – you might like it.