Wednesday, July 17, 2013

In Which I Attempt Once Again to Befriend Jane Austen

Our Jane

I am not really sure why, but I just don't 'get' Jane Austen. It took me forever to read Pride and Prejudice all the way through. Actually I had to watch the movie before I could try for the third of fourth time to read it. Somehow hearing her words spoken aloud helped me wade through her sentences.

I have lovely hardcover editions of all her books and yet...they sit on the shelf unopened. Well, I did start to read Persuasion. I gave up and rented the TV adaption with Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones. I didn't much like the heroine, Anne Elliot. 

I rented the movie The Jane Austen Book Club hoping for some insight but none was forthcoming. Because I hadn't read the books, I couldn't nod in agreement with the women's comments and I had no clue as to how the modern day relationships 
paralleled the ones in Ms. Austen's books. 

And yet, I have not given up in my pursuit of Ms. Austen. Yesterday I checked out A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter. The author, William Deresiewicz, takes a look at how his life was affected by reading Emma and what lessons he learned from that book and the five other novels written by Ms. Austen. 

So you can see that I am trying!

All this has come to the fore because this weekend a Jane Austen Festival is happening at Locust Grove historic home not 10 minutes from my house. It is the sixth festival put on by the local Jane Austen Society.

There will be tea and scones, Regency fashions, a panel discussion with Pride and Prejudice sequel authors, a duel between gentlemen, and a cricket match. What, ho?

It looks to be great fun and if the temperature is not in the 100s I just might attend if for no other reason than to participate in the P&P reading marathon that will take place on the veranda. I hope they will be serving (iced) tea.


  1. I just checked that same book out of the library. I haven't cracked the cover yet, but it'll be interesting to compare notes. (Of course, I am one of those people who LOVE Jane Austen and have read her books multiple times, so we're kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum on this one. Still, it'll be fun to "meet in the middle".)

    1. That is funny that we are picked up the same book about Austen! I am enjoying what W.D. has to say about her books. And he tosses in biographical and historical info too. Maybe she will become an author I read about instead of read...

    2. I just read his first two chapters and am loving his writing style and his insights into Austen. All the biographical information is fun, too. I love the serendipity of stumbling across such an enjoyable read. (Plus its making me want to reread Austen's novels.)

    3. Glad you are enjoying the book too, Lark.

  2. I love Jane, but that doesn't mean *everyone* has to! Some writers resonate with me, and some do not. I would love to go to a Jane Austen festival (but not, of course, in 100-degree weather. I have to draw the line somewhere). You might enjoy Emma more than P & P. Pair it with the movie starring Kate Beckinsale as Emma (my favorite version).

    1. I think maybe the movie versions help. I long ago watched 'Emma' with Gwyneth Paltrow, but will try the Beckinsale one. For some reason I have trouble making sense of Austen's sentences which is why hearing them spoken makes them clearer for me.