I’ve always appreciated Jane Austen novels, of course, but I’ve never considered myself a Janeite. I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice one time – when I was 17. I remember thinking it was okay (however, I did stay up until 4 in the morning to finish it). At that time in my life I was more enamored of Madame Bovary or Tess of the d’Urbervilles – novels that are more tragic and melodramatic than Austen’s works. My next experience with reading her was when I was just graduated from library school, unable to find a librarian job and living with my parents. I was very discouraged and turned to books for escape. One of the most memorable of these books was Northanger Abbey. I remember spending days immersed in this novel. It did help to relieve my sadness. And then I read Sense and Sensibility when I was living in a small town in Arkansas, lonely and friendless. It was also a source of solace for me.
In subsequent years I’ve tried to read Emma and Mansfield Park several times, but have just concluded that I must not like Jane Austen all that much anymore – until now. Emma is such a good book. I absolutely love it. I’m a bit over half-way through and find myself sneaking paragraphs during the work day. It’s completely satisfying. And now I am very curious about Jane Austen herself, her life, her world and how she planned her novels. So, I’ve started What Matters in Jane Austen? by John Mullan and have The Real Jane Austen by Paula Byrne on my nighstand. I’m also planning to read a few more, if not all, of her novels in the coming months. I’m waiting to make my selection until my book club chooses our 2016 books as there are three Austen novels up for consideration and I’ll work around whatever is chosen for next year.
This is the most excited I’ve been about an author or about reading in months. Thank you, Jane Austen!
Are you a Janeite? Which of her novels is your favorite?