Best Jane Austen Novels & Movies (In my humble opinion, of course!)

HELLO! This is my first post (at least one without just pictures) I’ve published in quite some time. To be fair to myself, I DID have some issues with my domain but it’s all sorted out now; however, the main reason (really the only reason – *cough* my domain was a half ass excuse *cough*) I haven’t uploaded is because of my schedule.  Lots of happenings in my life this past year.  A work promotion, trips to Nor Cal, family events, a move, and most importantly getting engaged and then married to my best friend and the love of my life.  More on those wonderful, happy events later.

I’m back online though and I will be uploading more posts for all my readers out there… HAH (AKA – My real life friends, but hey! Fake it till ya make it!)  I’m going to make an effort to write more, and in honor of that, I felt like I should talk about one of my favorite authors – Jane Austen.

So maybe you stumbled upon this because you are trying to figure out which Jane Austen books (or movies) are the best and which order to read or watch them in.  Or perhaps you are seeing this because you follow my blog.  If the latter is the case, you’ve probably already read and/or watched everything Jane Austen, as we are friends, but I hope you enjoy the ADORABLE artwork by ChihAriel on DeviantArt.  (Facts not known to me were found on Wikipedia & IMDB.)

This is a very hard topic for me to have a definitive list and ranking but I will strive to get as close to one as possible.

MANSFIELD PARK

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Plot: Mansfield Park follows the story of timid and moral Fanny Price whom was born into a low income family but is brought up with her wealthy relatives as the odd man out.

Book: This is distinctly my favorite book out of Jane Austen’s works.  I just loved the story and loved reading it.  There was something relatable about Fanny and the love story spoke to me.  Interestingly enough I came across some discussion boards with several critiques of Fanny calling her a prude.  I understand where they are coming from but Fanny has a moral code that she wishes to stick to and that is commendable if you ask me.  Did you know she began writing it in 1811 and it was published in 1814 (Her 3rd book)?  Well, neither did I.  But hey, know we both do!

Movie Versions: There are three versions of this film that I know of and I have seen two of them.  The first is a 1983 BBC film and I have not seen it.  The second one was released in 1999 and stars Frances O’Conner.  This is the first version of this film I saw and I really enjoyed it.  I liked that it had a more risque approach compared to the usual PG BBC Jane Austen adaptions.  The third version is a new BBC film starring Billie Piper of Doctor Who. So this one is hard for me to critique… The first time I saw it I just did NOT like it.  I also had a hard time getting on board with Billie Piper as Fanny Price for some reason.  Since then I’ve watched it maybe two more times and it did grow on me and so did the acting but… something about it still bothers me that I can’t quite put my finger on!  Even still, I would definitely recommend both of these films but they pale in comparison to the novel.

PERSUASION

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Plot: This story follows Anne, an older woman (by society’s standards) whom regrets her lost chance with Captain Wentworth, having ended their engagement many years ago due to pressure from her family for financial reasons.  Years later they are reintroduced and their love story follows.

Book: Persuasion was the last novel Jane Austen wrote and she finished it in 1816.  It’s hard to rank Persuasion, Pride & Prejudice, and Sense & Sensibility for me.  I love them all pretty equally but if I absolutely HAD to pick an order I think Persuasion would come first of the three. I love that it is a second chance at love between two people who made mistakes but are able to overcome them.

Movie Versions: I have only seen two movie versions (it looks like there is four) but I love them both equally.  They are the 1995 version and the 2007 version. I can’t pick a favorite between the two and highly recommend them both but I suppose if you wanted to only watch one I would suggest the 1995 version as I’m a big fan of Ciaran Hinds.

PRIDE & PREJUDICE

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Plot: Honestly, you probably already know the plot of Pride & Prejudice even if you haven’t read a single Jane Austen novel but here it is!  Elizabeth Bennet is a smart and spirited young woman (the 2nd daughter of 5 in a family of… shall we say colorful personalities?).  Her town is turned upside down with the arrival of two very wealthy gentleman – one by the name of Darcy.  Darcy is a proud man whom highly values manners *insert colin firth gif saying manners maketh man* and is put off by the indecency displayed by Elizabeth’s family.  Events in life bring them together and their love story blooms.

Book: Naturally, this was the first Jane Austen novel I ever read and I think is generally agreed as the favorite.  It was the second book she ever wrote AND fun fact there are 278 books that were inspired by P & P (at least according to Good Reads).

Movie Versions: So hands down my favorite film version of a Jane Austen novel is the Pride & Prejudice BBC 6 part series that came out in 1995.  For me, Colin Firth will always be my Mr. Darcy.  He is utter perfection in the role.  I know several people who prefer the newer one starring Keira Knightley (which I also really like) but it can’t hold a flame to the 95 version for me.

SENSE & SENSIBILITY

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Plot: Sense and Sensibility follows the story of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood.  After their father passes they loose their home and must move to a small cottage on a relative’s large estate with their mother and little sister.

Book: Fun fact – when Jane Austen published this in 1811 she didn’t list herself as the author but rather written “By A Lady”.  This story is about the fleeting, head over heels passionate love Marianne first experiences in comparison to a deeper, life long committed love.  It also looks at marrying for love vs marrying for stability as the sisters have no wealth to offer their suitors. 

Movie Versions: OKAY, so I would probably rank the 1995 film version very high up – right below the 1995 version of Pride & Prejudice.  I am huge fan of Alan Rickman and really love that movie.  The newer version is also really enjoyable.  Honestly, maybe I would like it better if I had seen it first.  P.S. A lot of my film picks are sentimental from watching them with my mom when I was younger.

EMMA

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Plot: Emma is a story of a young woman who comes from a family of wealth and decides to play matchmaker and fails miserably.  She claims that she will never marry but fails to see what is right in front of her. 

Book: While I do really like Emma, I wouldn’t put it on the same level as the stories listed above.  Fun fact – Jane Austen said that she was “going to take a heroine whom no one but [herself would] much like”  and that she did!  Emma is immature and can be slightly annoying but at the end of the day you still care about her and know she has good intentions. 

Movie Versions: There are two versions that I’ve seen.  The 1996 Gwenyth Paltrow version and the 2009 BBC mini series.  The 1996 film is charming and light.  It’s by no means a cinematic masterpiece but I like to have it on as a background movie every once and a while.  So the mini series… I literally can’t remember a thing about it for some reason.  I watched it when it first was released and haven’t watched it since.  I’ll go back and watch it again one of these days and drop a comment as to whether it’s worth watching or not.

NORTHANGER ABBEY

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Plot: Who knows?  Not me.

Book:  I read maybe two or three chapters and put it down and never opened it again.

Movie Versions:  Fell asleep.  I’m awful.  Sorry, I really don’t have more to offer on this one.  Lol.

*said gif*

Well I really hope you enjoyed this list and hope it will guide you into your Jane Austen journey if you are a novice to her works.  If you are an expert, let me know what your top 3 Jane Austen novels and firms are in the comments section below! 🙂

More coming soon!

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