Thursday, October 25, 2012

Lesley Castle by Jane Austen

I've been re-reading a few of Jane Austen's Juvenalia works to gain a bit more inspiration for a couple stories of mine that are still in the planning stages. In reading I found Lesley Castle quite entertaining and especially found some interesting quotes that I couldn't help sharing. :)


Story: This unfinished tale is written in letters mostly between Margaret Lesley in Scotland and Charlotte Lutterell in England. Margaret and her older sister Matilda reside in dreary old Lesley Castle in Perthshire, Scotland caring for their brother's motherless young daughter, while their father Sir George has a merry time in London. When their extravagant father remarries he brings his pretty new wife and her quiet brother to visit and their lives will never be the same again. Meanwhile Charlotte is busy preparing tons of food for her sister Eloisa's wedding feast when her fiance has a bad fall and dies. Poor Charlotte is left to figure out what to do with all of the food and try to comfort her sister. Charlotte, Eloisa and their mother travel to Bristol down to improve their health and there they meet Mr. & Mrs. Marlowe and handsome Mr. Cleveland. The story ends abruptly with the possibility of traveling abroad to see Margaret's brother and his ex-wife who have both remarried. 

Interesting Quotes: I came across several lovely quotes, some of them even reminded me of quotes or sentiments in Jane Austen's major novels.

"Lesley [Margaret's brother] is at present five and twenty, and has already given himself up to melancholy and Despair." - First Letter

"...Matilda and I remain secluded from Mankind in our old and Mouldering Castle, which is situated two miles from Perth on a bold and projecting Rock, and commands an extensive view of the town and its delightful Environs." - First Letter

"...we are neither dull nor happy; on the contrary there were never two more lively, more agreeable or more witty girls, than we are; not an hour in the Day hangs heavy on our Hands. We read, we work, we walk, and when fatigued with these Employments releive our spirits, either by a lively song, a graceful Dance, or by some smart bon-mot, and witty repartee. We are handsome my dear Charlotte, very handsome and the greatest of our Perfections is, we are entirely insensible of them ourselves." - First Letter

"During our visit, the Weather being remarkably bad, and our party particularly stupid, she was so good as to conceive a violent partiality for me, which very soon settled in a downright Freindship and ended in an established correspondence. She is probably by this time as tired of me, as I am of her; but as she is too polite and I am too civil to say so, our letters are still as frequent and affectionate as ever, and our Attachment as firm and sincere as when it first commenced." - Fourth Letter

"A brother of Mrs Marlowe, Mr Cleveland is with them at present; he is a good-looking young Man, and seems to have a good deal to say for himself." - Fourth Letter

"Perhaps you may wonder that I do not consider myself as well as my Sister in my matrimonial Projects; but to tell you the truth I never wish to act a more principal part at a Wedding than the superintending and directing the Dinner, and therefore while I can get any of my acquaintance to marry for me, I shall never think of doing it myself, as I very much suspect that I should not have so much time for dressing my own Wedding-dinner, as for dressing that of my friends." - Fourth Letter

"They are so horribly pale."
"They have always a little colour, and after any exercise it is considerably heightened."
- Sixth Letter
(This quote reminded me of Mr. Darcy's defense of Elizabeth Bennet's looks in Pride and Prejudice"I am afraid, Mr. Darcy, that this adventure has rather affected your admiration of her fine eyes." "Not at all," he replied; "they were brightened by the exercise.")

"This was certainly enough to put any one n a Passion; however, I was as cool as a cream-cheese..." - Seventh Letter

"...and I hope you will not think me girlishly romantic, when I say that to have some kind of compassionate Friend who might listen, to my sorrows without endeavouring to console me was what I had for some time wished for..." - Eighth Letter

"Need I say my dear Eloisa how wellcome your letter was to me? I cannot give a greater proof of the pleasure I received from it, or of the Desire I feel that our Correspondence may be regular and frequent than by setting you so good an example as I now do in answering it before the end of the week." - Ninth Letter

"How often have I wished that I possessed as little personal Beauty as you do; that my figure were as inelegant; my face as unlovely; and my appearance as unpleasing as yours! But ah! what little chance is there of so desirable an Event; I have not had the small-pox, and must therefore submit to my unhappy fate." - Tenth Letter

"...my Attention was attracted by the appearance of a Young Man the most lovely of his Sex, who at that moment entered the Room with another Gentleman and Lady. From the first moment I beheld him, I was certain that on him depended the future Happiness of my life." - Tenth Letter

"...is it possible that she can not know how greatly superior an elegant simplicity is to the most studied apparel?" - Tenth Letter

Leslie Castle in Scotland
My Thoughts: Lesley Castle interests me for several reasons. Firstly it's the only one of Jane Austen's stories that partially takes place in Scotland (as far as I can remember). 
It does end after ten letters and quite in the middle of the tale but there's a lot of information about the principal characters packed into them. 
An old Scottish castle is featured in the title, the story starts there and much of the main movement happens there. The tale ends with the possibility of the Lesley family traveling abroad in which case Margaret Lesley, sort of the main heroine  would have to write to her friend Charlotte from foreign places. I'm left wondering if the reason for the story's untimely end could have something to do with the fact that Jane Austen never traveled abroad herself and did not have the necessary information about locations to finish the tale. 
It's interesting that at the beginning a similar sounding plot to full length novel begins to arise: two sisters' world is upset when their relation brings his pert wife to take over the running of their family home, the wife's brother visits and falls in love with the eldest sister. That plot reminds me of John & Fanny Dashwood's taking over Norland in Sense and Sensibility and Fanny's brother Edward Ferrars falling in love with the eldest sister Elinor. 
There are also a few quotes that remind me of quotes or sentiments from the major novels. 
The characters are all quite entertaining, especially Charlotte Lutterell that chef extraordinaire who fixes massive amounts of food for her sister's wedding which is not to be and uses food and cooking references whenever possible in her letters!  
I found lots of inspiration for my own writing in Lesley Castle and I hope Miss Jane would not mind me even using one or two of her names or ideas. 

Have you read Lesley Castle?

From the description of the Scottish castle above (second quote) would you be interested in visiting it?

Do you have a favorite Austen Juvenalia work?


6 comments:

Miss Elizabeth said...

I have heard of this book, but have never read it. Love the quotes though! One of my favorites of the ones you posted is "This was certainly enough to put any one n a Passion; however, I was as cool as a cream-cheese..." - Seventh Letter :) Ah, Jane Austen...

Kirk said...

I believe(or as Austen spelled it beleive) I have. I have it in a collection of her early writing. My favorite early work is the History of England. How wickedly funny that one is!

Rhoswen Faerie Wrose said...

I have read Jane Austen's juvenalia, including Lesley Castle, but it's been a couple years so I really don't remember much about them. :-(

Elisa said...

I read and own "Katharine and Other Writings" (edited by Margaret Anne Doody, published Oxford Univeristy Press) which has all of Austen's early writings including "Lesley Castle" and contains explanatory notes at the end.

Miss Elizabeth Bennet said...

You've won 1st Place in The Period Drama Trivia Challenge!
http://elegance-of-fashion.blogspot.com/2012/10/period-drama-trivia-challenge-answers.html

Miss Dashwood said...

I have not read this but now I very much want to! I read "Love and Freindship" (well, listened to the audiobook) a couple of months ago and was most excessively diverted. I wonder how old she was when she wrote these?

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