Ah, Jane Austen. Enchanting, delightful, beautiful, creative, brilliant Jane Austen. Oh what I would give to sit down with you and pick your brain. We would talk about the many, many layers of your novels, your heroines, your heroes, social etiquette, gender roles, romantic idealism, satire and family vs individuality in the 18th and 19th centuries. Unfortunately I’m 200 years too late but that doesn’t mean a girl can’t dream, right?
Unbelievably there was a time in the not so distant past when I would scrunch my face up in distaste whenever anyone asked me whether I was a fan of Jane Austen’s work. No, I am not, and I never will be, I used to tell people. That was during my modernist phase. Woolf, the Beat Generation, Fitzgerald. They were the only names I cared for. The next phase was the Romantic Poets. Keats, Byron, Shelley. Then it was Shakespeare and Ben Johnson. Then the Brontes. I still refused to pick up a Jane Austen novel.
One day I found myself staring at my bookshelf. I owned four Austen novels. I had read none of them. I just had them there to fill out the A-C section on my bookshelf. Suddenly my eyes wandered over to my copy of Pride and Prejudice. I read the back. I still wasn’t convinced. I put it back. I picked it up again. My day was empty. I wanted something new. I was restless. I opened Pride and Prejudice and read the first sentence. My life was never the same again. When I finished it was in my top five books I had ever read.
I read all of her novels over the next few months. Pride and Prejudice is no longer in my top five but Emma and Persuasion are. Whenever I doubt myself, whenever I need to feel, whenever I need to be cheered up, I pick up an Austen novel. She taught me more about life and who I was and who I want to be than any other author or person ever had. I reread a couple of her novels a year. It’s a love that will last a lifetime.
This year I decided to read all of her novels within a twelve month period. It’s been a difficult couple of years. I kind of lost myself and once again she was there to remind me how beautiful life is. I’ve read Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Emma so far this year. I finished Emma two days ago. It was my first Austen in August read. Which brings me to the point of this post.
I’ve decided to join Austen in August, which is being hosted over at Lost Generation Reader. At the beginning of this month I had three Austen novels left to read this year: Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Mansfield Park. I just finished Emma and I’m starting Sense and Sensibility. Also this month, if I can, I want to read Mansfield Park. That will complete my 2014 Austen Project. The last two months have been difficult. It’s just what I need. Couldn’t have come at a better time.
I’m currently working on my review for Emma and it should be up over the next couple of days. I hope to also write a small detailed post about why I love Jane Austen’s work and why they get better each time I read them. Perhaps I’ll watch some of the movie and/or television adaptions and review a couple of them too.