This collection of Jane Austen's juvenilia incudes the titular story, "Lesley Castle" (both of which are experiments in the epistolary novel form), "The History of England", "First Act of a Comedy" and various fictional letters.
All of the works in the collection are worth reading. "Love and Freindship", with its multiple deaths, illegitimacy and fainting fits, is a very silly satire on the sensibility evident in novels of the period. "Lesley Castle" is rather more confusing because of its multiple writers and recipients of letters, but is also evidence of Austen's gift for poking fun at the ridiculous. "The History of England" is a wonderfully exuberant race through a number of the kings and queens of England ostensibly told to praise Mary, Queen of Scots and to criticise Elizabeth I. I found it laugh-out-loud funny and in some respects it reminded me of the equally silly but very entertaining 1066 and All That: A Memorable History of England). In the various letters, characters appear who have names or characteristics which are recognisably those of characters who figure in Austen's mature works. There is a Lady Greville, for example, who is a clear precursor to Lady Catherine de Burgh. A Willoughby, a Crawford and a Musgrove also make appearances.
Overall, this a quick, undemanding and very entertaining read. For readers who appreciate Jane Austen's novels, it is fascinating to see her gift for wit and satire, her lively mind and her sense of the ridiculous so evident in her teenage writings. It is said that Austen used to read her works aloud to her family and it is easy to imagine how much laughter there must have been in the Austen household when Jane shared some of these very silly, but very funny works with her parents and siblings.