Before I begin, I beg your forgiveness if this is a bit scattered. I promise it will all come together by the time we reach the end.
As many of you know, I have a teenage daughter. She and I are very close. She is my theater buddy and we are able to talk about almost anything (I’m not foolish enough to believe she tells me everything). The one area on which we always butt heads is Jane Austen. She has sworn she will never read P&P (which leaves the door open for karma to make it a requirement in a future class) and she walks out of the room when it is on tv. I have gone so far as to dedicate one of my books, Georgiana Darcy, Matchmaker, to my daughter as she was the inspiration behind the story, but she will never know because she refuses to read anything related to P&P.
Last weekend, I had the greatest fortune to attend the first JAFF Writer Reader Get Together just outside Washington, DC. Everything was amazing! The energy and excitement of being together with people who do what you do and love what you love … indescribable. The information which was shared was priceless.
On Saturday, Abigail Reynolds was talking about clues Jane Austen left which were clear to readers of her day, but not so much to us (“he expressed himself on the occasion as sensibly and as warmly as a man violently in love can be supposed to do.” = he kissed her!). The next morning, my daughter joined me in my commute to the event as she was going to spend a few hours with her boyfriend. I took the opportunity to use some of Abigail’s more scandalous comments to try to lure my daughter in and tempt her to read the forbidden text. I believe she was amused, but not hooked.
A few days later, her drama class went to see Sense and Sensibility performed at Virginia Commonwealth University. I was soo excited. (“Yes, Mom, I know it is Jane Austen, but it is not P&P and I get out of school for the day.”) She loved it! (“Not because it was Jane Austen, but because of the direction and the way the actors portrayed some of the characters.”) Apparently, John Dashwood was a fop who made grand entrances (normally on furniture) and the “gossips”, aka ensemble, really made the show. (“I’m still not reading P&P.”)
I know I’m not the only parent to go through this. Some of the other authors on this site have also written blogs about getting their kids to read and/or appreciate Austen. The problem I see now is that this has become a matter of … (wait for it) … pride. My daughter is determined not to read or like P&P while I cannot wait until she does. We are very determined people in my family. You will not force us to do anything we do not want to do, even if it is for our own good, or perhaps especially if it is for our own good. Pigheaded, that’s the best word for it. So what’s the next step? Like I said before, she has cursed herself. Sooner or later a teacher is going to assign the reading or, and I think this is my favorite scenario, she is going to end up in a production of Pride and Prejudice. She really is a true Elizabeth Bennet type, if I do say so myself.
UPDATE: I let her read this before I posted it. (“I will never be part of a P&P production!”) Let Karma have its way. 😉