In one volume Sarah Tytler presents the most characteristic of Jane Austen's novels, together with her life. The tales and the life are calculated to reflect on each other, and the arrangement of the tales – selected by the author as Austen wrote them, not as they happened to be published – allows the growth of Austen's mind and taste to be recognised. The author touches on these great English novels in such a way as to make them readily accessible to all. She points out the great changes in social standards, customs and fashions that have occurred since Jane Austen wrote, but concludes that the human nature in her books remains the same as human nature in every generation.
Is there any sensation equal to that produced by the first lover and the first proposal coming to a girl in a large family of girls? It is delightfully sentimental, comical, complimentary, affron-ting, rousing, tiresome-all in one. It is a herald of lovers, proposals, and wonderful changes all round. It is the first thrill of real life in its strong passions, grave vicissitudes, and big joys and sorrows as they come in contact with idle fancies, hearts that have been light, simple experiences which have hitherto been carefully guarded from rude shocks. It does not signify much whether the family of girls happen to be rich or poor, unless indeed that early and sharp poverty causes a precocity which deepens girls' characters betimes, and by making them sooner women, robs them of a certain amount of the thoughtlessness, fearlessness, and impractica-bility of girlhood. But girlhood, like many another natural condition, dies hard; and its sweet, bright illusions, its wisdom and its folly, survive tolerably severe pinches of adversity.