Life is Like a Jane Austen Novel

Life is Like a Jane Austen Novel

I must begin with a confession. I have been known, on occasion, to intentionally overhear conversations. Writers, however, call it research, a perfectly legitimate way to focus on the content and cadence of everyday conversations. Call it eavesdropping if you must, but I have picked up some wonderful bits of dialogue this way.  One day in the not too distant past, I heard an interesting phrase in the middle of a stranger’s rant about a philandering boyfriend: “It’s like I’m living in a Jane Austen novel.’’

What struck me is that there was nothing about the drama she was describing in her relationship that even remotely resembled any of Jane Austen’s novels. I took a mental note about how off her perceptions of Jane Austen were. Over the course of the next week, I found myself with a case of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. Suddenly everywhere I turned, people were comparing their lives to living in a Jane Austen novel. Some were spot on while others were a bit of a stretch. I wondered if the idea that one’s life was like an Austen novel was now “a thing.” Apparently it is.

The more I looked, the more I found. I struck gold on Twitter. Below, you’ll find some of the gems I found there. There’s no need to expound on the deliciousness of these tweets. Enjoy them for what they are:

(Click through to the Instagram photo and read the comments for a giggle.)

That delightful place between Austen novels and reality.

Okay, I can’t let this one pass. Jane Austen never actually used the word “brocade” in any of her novels.

So there you have it. If you want your life to feel a bit more like a Jane Austen novel (or movie adaptation), tie a ribbon in your hair, play a game of whist, do some needlework, buy some stationery, practice your penmanship, engage in correspondence, go for a walk in the rain, turn on the classical music, speak as they spoke, or become ill. Better yet, be a bit of a hypochondriac and just think you’re ill!

How about you? Do you ever feel as though your life has Austenish elements? I know I sometimes find myself reveling in my daily cup of herbal tea, closing my eyes and picturing cake to go with it. Alas, when I open my eyes, there is no cake.

20 Responses to Life is Like a Jane Austen Novel

  1. Well I’m sure I suffer with my nerves! Unfortunately that’s not the character I want to be. I would love to be Elizabeth when she finally gets Darcy. I do like doing tapestry and crochet and am teaching myself calligraphy however I couldn’t live without modern conveniences except for in JAFF stories. Thanks for this post Diana ?

    • Glynis, I enjoyed your comment! I think you have hit upon a thread of humanity that certainly spans the ages. I know many lovely people who suffer from “nerves”, (or as we call it today, anxiety.) If Mrs. Bennet wasn’t so annoying in other ways, I think having sympathy for her nerves would be easier. 🙂 The accomplishments you mentioned, tapestry, crochet and calligraphy are becoming more rare, and from my perspective, you are to be commended for nurturing those talents! I have also pondered how it would be to live without our modern conveniences. I suppose we wouldn’t miss them because we never knew any different. but how grateful I am for them. Thank you for taking a moment to share your thoughts.

  2. Very interesting. I have not had that experience where one claims to be living in a Jane Austen novel or her world. But I have had the acquaintance of a man who looks down on one’s family and connections! Sadly!!!! And a mother-in-law who was (She has now passed.) always making comments about one’s wardrobe. Does that count? I do believe it is one of the reasons I so love P&P…Darcy was humbled and changed.

    • Just wait – you’ll hear it soon, now that your ears are tuned to it. :-). And oh, my, yes! Your examples are absolutely perfect. That bit about people judging you by your family and connections is surprising (I wasn’t raised to even consider it) but it is an attitude that is definitely alive and well in certain circles. It’s hard to be judged by anyone, but I think it’s particularly hard when it’s coming from an in-law. Commenting on one’s wardrobe – anything beyond a simple complement – is such a personal thing to speak on. It’s almost impossible not to take it personally. It’s exactly the sort of thing Austen loved to include in her novels too!

      • You have to realize that I graduated from college in 1968 and wore fishnet stockings and mini-skirts/dresses. So for the Country Club set that “his” family belonged to I was not dressed like a lady.

        • Well, that paints quite a picture in my mind! Actually, I’m just a decade or so behind you, and sure do remember the teenage girls with the fishnet stockings and mini-skirts. I think that was my first hint of what “scandalous” meant – when a girl came to church in fishnets and a mini-skirt. The final straw, I believe, was the white leather go-go boots she wore with them. 🙂 I see pictures of that sort of outfit now and feel nostalgic. You wouldn’t find those in an Austen novel though…

  3. Oh, I have a doozy along the lines of a real life Mr. Collins going around asking women to marry him, including 2 sisters, one of whom said yes. I should have told you about it when I saw you last. Sometimes life is stranger than fiction.

  4. You have inspired me, Diana! The next time my son brags about how well he plays the piano (and every other instrument he picks up) I shall say “I would have been a proficient, had I ever learnt!” And, I shall learn to listen to other people’s conversations more carefully. Loved reading all the tweets.

    • Your son’s gonna love that, Brenda. When he does start bragging, you need to command him to play as well. And heehee, once you start listening in on random conversations, you become more aware of when people are listening to you too. I’ve been known to put on a bit of a show on such occasions. 😉

  5. I had a JAFF moment over the weekend when I was baking bread. I had recently read a JAFF story where one of the minor characters was in the middle of baking bread when Elizabeth visited. My cat was at the door wanting in while I was kneading. Does that count?

  6. Yes, a fun post. I guess I’ll take the tea and go for long walks but then I also love music so I had better sit down and practice the piano before the guests come and we all take a turn in the music room.

  7. Such a fun post. Thanks for sharing. Austenish elements..when I walk on the paths of the Rockefeller’s Etates near me I feel I’m walking the trails at Pemberley and Darcy should come riding around the bend at any moment. I felt similarly when I was riding those same trails 30 years ago, both English style and sidesaddle….although then I hadn’t been introduced to Jane Austen, now I can say it definitely had Austenish elements.

    • I’m picturing it now. I have to say that walking on posh historic estates is a huge “Austen Novel” moment, and wow – riding sidesaddle on the same gives you some true street (or “path”) cred. I’m impressed!

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