Friday, September 5, 2014

The Classics Club’s September Meme: When Edith Wharton and Jane Austen Switch Places

This is probably the most interesting topic The Classics Club has ever picked for its monthly meme:

“Select two classics from your list (by different authors) that you have finished reading. Now switch the authors, and contemplate how each might have written the other’s book.”

My last two classics are The House of Mirth and Sense and Sensibility. Actually, both Edith Wharton and Jane Austen are new authors for me, and I have just read one book of each. So, maybe I would not be very objective, but I’ll try to catch their style from their only books I have read. Now, let’s switch the authors, and voila…..we have two new books! *this is going to be fun!*

The House of Mirth by Jane Austen

Lily Bart is an orphan, and now she is looking for a husband! She is introduced to the young and handsome Mr. Lawrence Selden, when she is staying in her best friend Gerty Farish’ country house. Mr. Selden lives in a cottage near Gerty’s house, so he visits her every morning; they would take a walk for an hour; then he will sit with her while she is doing her sewing, having a quiet conversation. They actually love each other, but never speak of their feeling.

One day they get a visitor from town, Mr. Percy Gryce, the rich and successful gentleman, Gerty’s brother. Mr. Gryce is a self-confident and charming man, and Lily is often blushing by his flattery, while Mr. Selden is silently—and bitterly—watching them. While everyone is sure that Mr. Gryce will marry Lily, he suddenly disappears. Apparently he has mismanaged his business, and was in a huge debt. To save himself, he must marry a rich girl, and Lily is not in his list. The broken-hearted Lily cries everyday, her face becomes paler, and she loses her appetite. But then Mr. Selden starts to visit the house, only to do small helps for the ladies. By his patience and gentleness, Lily gets her confidence back, and she begins to realize how kind Mr. Selden is. She agrees to marry him, and they live quietly but happily in the country.


Sense and Sensibility by Edith Wharton

Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are the daughters of a rich and reputable family in the New York’s high society. Edward Ferrars, who is attracted to Elinor, comes from a rich family too, but he dislikes his people’s hypocrisy and vanity. Elinor loves him, and everybody regards them as perfect couple, until Edward rejects his mother’s inheritance, and chooses to start working as a clerk, and be independent. Elinor, who is always calculated and reserved, slowly releases Edward, fearing that she will be banished from her small world of rich and nice people. What will they think of her if she becomes a wife of a clerk, be that for a reputable company? Elinor ends up marrying a rich man who made his way to fame and fortune through crafty business, although she never loves him.

John Wiloughby is an ambitious young man. As he comes from a middle class family, although highly respectable, he is determined to marry a rich girl (and her dowry!), and be welcomed to the respectable society he has dreamt to be invited. He starts courting Marianne. The amiable and expressive Marianne finds him very agreeable; she loves to talk about books with him, and she enjoys his company. Her association with Wiloughby disgusts her circle of people, and she is abandoned by her friends after a false scandal. Wiloughby, finds that Marianne is already banished from the society, switch his courting to a rich girl, who likes him. He marries her, and now he is welcomed by the high society because of his wife, leaving Marianne crushed by broken heart as well as abandonment from the society.


I am awful at writing, right? :)

I think, beyond the plot, the writing style is what makes them distinguished one from another. But anyway, it’s interesting to see how different a book will be in the hand of other author(s).


  1. I liked your adaptations of the two novels. Wharton and Austen were a great match for this meme.

    1. Thanks. Yes, they are, luckily I don't have to swap Zola with Austen! LOL

    2. I swapped Zola with Austen - couldn't resist! :)

      And you're making me want to read Wharton more. Only read House of Mirth and Age of Innocence - really liked them both (more so House of Mirth) but as yet not read any more.

    3. Haha...the last Zola I read was The Debacle, and I really can't imagine how Austen would have writen it!

    4. That.... No, no I really can't either! :)

  2. Well done, Fanda! I'm considering re-writing an Austen chapter in the voice of Ernest Hemingway. You know, just for laughs.

    1. Wow, that would be very interesting! Can't wait to read it! :)


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