Love and Friendship is a juvenile story by Jane Austen, dated 1790, when Austen was 14 years old. Written in epistolary form, like her later unpublished novella, Lady Susan, Love and Friendship is thought to be one of the tales she wrote for the amusement of her family; it was also dedicated to her cousin Eliza de Feuillide, «La Comtesse de Feuillide». The installments, written as letters from the heroine Laura, to Marianne, the daughter of her friend, Isabel, may have come about as nightly readings by the young Jane in the Austen home. Love and Friendship is clearly a parody of romantic novels Austen read as a child. This is clear even from the subtitle, «Deceived in Friendship and Betrayed in Love,» which totally undercuts the title.
In form, it resembles a fairy tale featuring wild coincidences and turns of fortune. However, Austen is determined to lampoon the conventions of romantic stories, right down to the utter failure of romantic fainting spells, which always turn out badly for the female characters.
In this story one can see the development of Austen’s sharp wit and disdain for romantic sensibility and characteristic of her later novels.
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