Alyssa Goodnight’s Top Ten Reasons to Love Jane Austen
TOP TEN REASONS TO LOVE JANE AUSTEN
10. Jane inspires a feeling of comfort. A frantic day can be calmed down considerably by brewing a cup of tea and settling in with Jane and her cast of characters. And how lovely that one can choose between one of Jane’s original six novels or the latest bit of Austen fan fiction. They all promise the comfort inherent in familiarity and a cozy story with a happy ending.
9. In a world where it often seems as if chivalry and even good manners are very nearly dead, Jane’s stories help us revisit a time that was different—when strict etiquette, respectful behaviors, and attentive courtship were the way of the world. That too is a comfort—and an inspiration for the future.
8. The underlying snark. Reading Jane’s novels makes us feel as if we’re stealing a moment, gossiping with an old friend—a friend who knows all the really good gossip. The woman had a wicked wit and wasn’t afraid to use it. We all have a Mr. Collins, a Mrs. Elton, and a John Thorpe among our acquaintances. Letting Jane poke fun at them is more socially acceptable than doing it oneself.
7. Jane understood the appeal of a happy ending. “Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can, impatient to restore everybody, not greatly in fault themselves, to tolerable comfort, and to have done with all the rest.” ~ Mansfield Park. She may as well be the Patron Saint of Romance Novels.
6. In a world of frenzied schedules and ever-present technology, Jane’s books encourage us to take pleasure in simpler things: long walks, picnics, afternoon tea, visits from friends, not to mention flirting and romance.
5. Jane offers us the ultimate lesson in forgiveness. Elizabeth and Darcy…Anne and Wentworth…Fanny and Edmund… Only think how differently their stories would have unfolded had they begrudged their good opinions. Jane makes forgiveness almost impossible to resist. From Darcy: “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.” And Wentworth: “You pierce my soul. I am half agony, half hope.” *Sigh*
4. She has inspired fan fiction of such breadth and diversity (Hello, Austen Authors!) as to be astonishing. It is a fascinating phenomenon and makes one curious over the question, What will come next?
3. Jane’s stories prompt a thirst for knowledge about the period in which they’re set and inspire a curiosity for more details. We want to know about the geography of England—Where is Pemberley?—the customs and traditions (the entails, engagements, and country dances), and the way of life for the aristocracy and the lower-born. We are rabidly curious about the lives of these characters and want to immerse ourselves in their world.
2. The woman knew a thing or two about swoon-worthy heroes. Darcy’s brooding stares and misunderstood silences… Knightley’s steady patience… Wentworth’s kick-ass letter-writing skills… Those heroes have inspired many a woman’s fantasy and set the bar for the men in our own lives.
1. She is a classic who never goes out of style, the Audrey Hepburn of British literature. Her writing style is clever, accessible, and relevant. And we adore her!
So what’s on your list? Please share!
P.S. If you haven’t seen it, this slideshow of Pride & Prejudice covers over the years is quite amusing.