I am a Jane Austen addict. To those people who know me well this is no surprise. I have started to collect different versions of Pride & Prejudice (my favorite) and proudly display them on my living room bookshelf. I have worn out my DVD copy of Pride & Prejudice and have replaced it twice (so yes I’ve bought the DVD 3 times). I have even made a word art poster to proudly display my admiration for Darcy and Elizabeth on my bedroom wall. I have also devoured over 75 Pride & Prejudice sequels and variations; and yes some are better than others. So what is it about Jane? Well, let me tell you…
I used to refuse to read Jane Austen and couldn’t understand what all the hype was about. It wasn’t until my favorite professor at university put Emma on a class reading list that I was forced to read and examine a Jane Austen novel, that my life was changed forever. It was one of those Oprah ‘aha’ moments when I finally got midway through Emma and realized the greatness that is Jane Austen. She truly knows how to craft an intelligent, humorous, political, and social novel, all while flying under the radar. I’ve since read all of her works multiple times and continue to return to them every year. Yes Pride and Prejudice is my favorite but it’s followed closely by Mansfield Park and Persuasion.
It’s also the characters who keep me coming back to Jane’s novels. Jane has created a wonderful world with characters that you want to be your friend; Characters that you want to see get their comeuppance; and characters that you want to know just a little bit more about (Thus for me the appeal of sequels and variations). Anyone who has read Pride & Prejudice would enjoy reading a sequel where Wickham dies a wretched death, Mr. Bennet outlives his wife, and Caroline Bingley is shunned from Pemberley.
Darcy, Knightly, Wentworth, Brandon, Tilney and even Bingley are reasons why I read Jane Austen. Her heroes come in all forms and have proven that true gentlemen want their love to stand beside them in life. Jane’s heroes are kind, steadfast, generous, and willing to do whatever it takes to earn their love. Elizabeth, Emma, Anne, Fanny, Marianne and Catherine are also the reasons why I read Jane Austen. Her heroines are funny, witty, head strong, impulsive, and impressionable. None of them are perfect but what is important is that they all show the ability to grow as human beings and an eagerness to expand their minds and hearts. And don’t forget Wickham, Willoughby, Churchill, the Thropes and the Crawfords. The villains are just as important and Jane creates such thoroughly loathsome human beings that you can appreciate the poison they bring, no matter how subtle, to the story. Because of these wonderful characters there have been so many spin offs and variations of all of her novels. People just want to know more about Jane’s characters. I for one want to know what happened to Lydia Bennet and Wickham. And what about Darcy and Elizabeth? How do they spend married life? Thankfully there are some clever authors in this day and age who will feed my addiction by writing sequels and variations.
I read Jane Austen for the language. Jane’s ability to craft a beautiful, sharp, witty and humorous sentence is above and beyond anything you will find in today’s novels. Her sense of timing and pacing within a novel is one of a kind. An Austen novel will take you back to a time where one’s thoughts and words were carefully crafted. There is nothing better than when Darcy stumbles over his words and fails miserably when declaring “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you” Jane Austen – Pride and Prejudice. You can find Jane’s words on everything these days; Mugs, pillows, shirts, bags, board games, jewelry and clothing. There’s a reason she is quoted still to this day. Jane’s way with words is unparalleled and her novels should be enjoyed by everyone at least once.
Check out some of the very fine Jane merchandise you can order from The Jane Austen Gift Shop: