List Price: $21.99 U.S.
Pages: 260 pp.
A Gossip's Story, and A Legendary Tale (1796)
Edited by Devoney Looser, Melinda O'Connell
and Caitlin Kelly
The eighteenth-century bestseller that may have inspired Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility republished for the first time in a modern edition
One of the most popular and prolific authors of her time, Jane West (1758-1852) enjoyed her greatest success with A Gossip's Story, and A Legendary Tale (1796), one of the best-selling novels of its era. Yet in addition to its significance as a lost classic by a neglected woman writer, A Gossip's Story has long been recognized by scholars as a likely influence on Jane Austen's celebrated novel Sense and Sensibility (1811).
West's wryly humorous cautionary tale - with its themes of courtship and love, money and romance, filial piety and financial ruin - centers on two very different sisters. Where Louisa proves herself to be rational and full of good sense, Marianne is driven by her emotions and romantic idealism, and their dispositions lead them to starkly different fates.
This first-ever annotated edition of West's novel includes the unabridged text of the original two-volume edition, including facsimile reproductions of its title pages, together with a new scholarly introduction which argues that "whether anchored to Austen's Sense and Sensibility, read on its own, or read as part of West's vast and largely unstudied oeuvre, A Gossip's Story deserves reassessment. With the publication of this edition, West's fiction may well regain - deservedly - some of its former prominence."