Am I Becoming a Janeite?

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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?

31 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I’m so happy to hear that you are connecting with Miss Austen & her books 🙂

    I don’t think I can pick just one book. It would come down to Emma or Persuasion for me, with Pride & Prejudice close behind. Really, I treasure all of them – except Northanger Abbey.

      1. It was published after her death, so she never got to do any final revision. I find the switch between Bath and Northanger really jarring, almost like two different books were joined together. And I just cringe for poor Catherine with the whole suspecting the general of murdering his wife thing.

  2. You probably know this already but there will be some festivities in December for Emma’s 200th anniversary. What Matters in Jane Austen is wonderful…it’s made me want to re-read all the novels!

    1. I’m looking forward to the Emma festivities. It’s going to be great fun! What Matters in Jane Austen is addicting. I also now want to read the entire canon.

  3. I love Jane Austen but not sure if that makes me a real Janeite. I love P&P very much and found on re-reading that I liked Emma more than I remembered and was blown away by Persuasion. I am hoping to re-read Mansfield Park in the next couple of months.

  4. I don’t know that I’d call myself a Janeite, but I’m an appreciative reader, and I have to love an author whose success makes my own name feel a little less dull and ordinary. Traditionally My favourite has been ‘Pride and Prejudice’, or maybe ‘Persuasion’, but I am really looking forward to re-reading ‘Emma’ in December, and I have a strong feeling that life experience might make me love this book more than I have in the past.

    1. I love that she also named one of her most interesting characters Jane (Fairfax). I think it’s a great name. I have decided to postpone my Emma reading until December when I can read along with you all. It will be much more enriching, I think!

  5. It does sound like you’ve been bitten by the Austen bug. I’m not sure which novel is my favorite — I think I’ll have to re-read them all to decide! 🙂 You have some good nonfiction picks there too, though I recommend becoming acquainted with the chronological outline of Austen’s life in some fashion before reading The Real Jane Austen. It jumps about and might be somewhat confusing otherwise.

  6. I love half her books and am indifferent to the others. Those others I’m not keen on due to plot and characters, so I tend to say I like her a lot as I do still enjoy reading them. Pride And Prejudice is my favourite and Emma’s a very close second. I’m glad she’s made you excited about reading so much 🙂

  7. I love Jane Austen’s novels and I find watching Austen TV and film adaptations so comforting. I am so pleased to hear you are continuing to enjoy Emma which I thought was one of Austen’s lighter and funnier novels. My favourite novel is Sense and Sensibility. Now I have read all her complete novels, after reading Mansfield Park earlier this year, I would love to try her shorter/unfinished work and of course I need to start re-reading!

  8. So glad the slump has come to an end! And thank you for whipping me into a froth about Jane Austen and John Mullan’s book (which I’ve bought recently) when I have so many other titles on my tbr list. We do like to wind each other up on these blogs, don’t we.

  9. I don’t think I can claim that I’m a Janeite, but I am very fond of her. I read What Matters in Jane Austen earlier in the year because someone (I think it was Jean from Howling Frog Books) said that it was a really perceptive and fascinating look at some of the small details in Austen. Which indeed it was! It gave me a new perspective on a number of things in her books.

  10. I love Jane Austen and I very well may be a Janeite. And coincidentally, Emma is my favorite of her books. Your post makes me want to read it again this year before the big anniversary in December. I am pulling it down from the book shelf tonight. Also I would love to read the books about Jane Austen that you mention. I have both of them. Sometimes I get so frustrated with the forgettable books I read and need to remind myself of the many treasures I have in my bookshelves just waiting for me!

  11. I love that so many people will be reading Emma at the same time in the next couple of months – I’m sure Jane Austen never foresaw that! I also get frustrated with the forgettable books and I think that’s why I get into these reading slumps. I’m sticking to the quality stuff from now on.

  12. Love this post! Austen comes to you at different times in life. Mansfield Park is my favourite Austen in the summer and Persuasion in the winter.

    I highly recommend the Mullan book. He is a very perceptive literary critic. I liked the Byrne less but it has its moments.

    1. I just finished the Mullan – wonderful book. I am so eager now to read all of Austen and look out for the things he mentions. I think my next of her books will be Persuasion – and as you say it is your favorite in the winter I think it will be perfect!

  13. I don’t think I am a Janeite, because of all her novels I’ve read (all but Emma) I only enjoyed Mansfield Park and Persuasion. In fact, they are two of my favourite novels, ever.

    I wonder if there are two sorts of Austen fans, those who prefer the extroverted stories P&P, S&S, NA and E, and those who prefer the introverted stories P & MP.

  14. I, too, much preferred Madame Bovary and other dramatic novels (Anna Karenina). But, I am slowly becoming enamored of Jane Austen. I’ve only read Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey; I can totally relate to your retreat into novels during times of loneliness or stress.

    Your enthusiasm for Emma makes me look forward to reading it all the more. I love this little series of posts you have, from Emma covers to being a Janeite, which I’m not quite.

    Yet.

Thank you for reading and commenting.

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