Teenage Wit and Writings of Jane Austen

Alison Larkin Presents. Dec. 2022. 4:05 hrs. ISBN 9798823431965. $24.95. F
Larkin, lauded for her impeccably performed recordings of the complete novels of Austen, brings sparkling wit and sly satire to her narration of this collection of writings from Austen’s teenage years, which range from epistolary novellas (Lesley Castle; Love and Freindship [sic]) to scraps of letters, one act of a play, a poem (“I’ve a Pain in My Head”), and a laugh-out-loud parody of a stodgy history book, all of which poke fun at the precious sensibility of gentle society and reveal its underlying shallowness. With a startling range of voices, accents, and characterizations, Larkin captures the self-satisfied sighing of matrons, the volatile simpering of young ladies in love, and the oily pomposity of men of letters. Listeners may wonder how Larkin keeps a straight face when intoning the melodramatic lines uttered by poor Sophia, who dies from consumption after an injudicious fainting spell (“One fatal swoon has cost me my life. Beware of Swoons, Dear Laura…”).
VERDICT This entertaining collection, narrated with élan, comes alive in audio. A winner for any audio classics collection, and a treat for Austen fans.
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