I first read a Jane Austen novel aged 11-12, a battered copy of Sense and Sensibility I'd picked up for a few pence at a table top sale and I was quickly drawn in by her sparkling prose. I adore each of her novels but my standout favourites have to be Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion and it is a copy of the former that is one of my most treasured possessions.
The gilded cover in itself is heart-stoppingly beautiful and I find myself just taking it out to look at it much like Gollum does with his 'precious'!
I also enjoy imagining who the lucky 'Annie' was to receive this as a Christmas gift in 1894 so soon after this edition was first published. It isn't in perfect condition - a little shelf cocked with some moulding to several of the pages and wear to the corners of the clothbound cover but I can't help being slightly awed at the way it has endured 117 years of existence.
The illustrations throughout are so wonderfully drawn - such a joy to take in and there are few things so transporting as the smell of an old book!