I’d seen mixed reviews of Love & Friendship, the new movie based on Jane Austen’s early novella Lady Susan. But we wanted to see it anyway. And we are so glad we did! We loved it! It was laugh out loud funny with a biting humor that Jane apparently toned down as she matured as a woman and a writer. And for me, the humorous Jane Austen is the one I love best. Maybe it’s because the first book I read by her was Emma in a college class titled The English Novel. We talked a lot about the fact that Emma is a comedy and should be read as such. I think maybe some Austen fans miss the humor in her stories. But you’d be hard-pressed to miss it in Love & Friendship!
Not only was the dialogue witty, the acting was suburb and the scenery and costuming wonderful, it definitely made me want to read this early work that wasn’t published until after Jane Austen’s death. (I later learned it’s an epistolary novel–that is, told in letters–which is a device I adore as a reader!) What is interesting is that there are many names of places and characters that end up in her published works. But that isn’t all. There are hints in characters and situations that we see in full blown development in those later novels as well. As a writer, this might have been one of the most fascinating aspects of the film and one of the reasons I want to read the book–to see how story and character benefitted in breadth and depth from time and maturity.
Seriously, this is a movie I will add to my collection of Jane Austen movies and watch with joy again and again.