Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Austen the Original Saga Author?

What is it about Jane Austen that she can write such great books which are still giving people pleasure nearly two hundred years later? She really is the queen of dare I say it, family sagas! :o)

When most readers think of sagas I feel they define them by Catherine Cookson type novels, I know I did for many years because that's virtually all I read. (total bliss)

However, after watching Emma Thompson's adaptation of Sense & Sensibility for the hundredth time, I realised that before the late great, Catherine Cookson, we had George Elliot and the like, and before that we had the wonderful Jane Austen.

Now who came before her?

Did she start the trend of family set novels? Is she the one who makes us want to read the pitfalls, the tragedies, the love and dreams of whole families? Most sagas have a central heroine, yet supporting that character is a host of others, who we learn about, and like or hate them, they end up becoming just as important as the heroine.

To me, that is the true mark of a family saga of any era or setting. It also reaffirms my love of the whole saga concept and it also teaches me something about my own reading tastes. I realised that I don't read a lot of books that are centered just on the heroine alone with perhaps a small focus on the hero.

Modern day authors of sagas are writing of the times a long way away from Austen's time, like the world wars for instance. Yet, the concept is still the same. The books follow the journey of the heroine and hero but also those family members and friends around them as they grow and learn.

Going through my personal library I've discovered that all my favourite fiction books, whether they are historical or contemporary, have plots that encompass more then just the heroine. I enjoy learning about the secondary characters.

Am I just nosy, wanting to know about everyone, or easily bored by one person?



  1. Anne, I have to admit I love a good saga novel. They have the meat and the gravy as well as all the trimmings I think. There is no better way to spend an afternoon then nosing around in other people’s business and finding out all their secrets. Yes, I'm nosy as well.


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