I would like to begin by saying I hope all of you are healthy and well. It has been a trying time. In trying times we seek solace. Something to divert us and comfort us, make us laugh, and remind us that even in the deepest darkness there is always a bit of light.
Literature lovers all over the world have been turning to their books right now for that consolation. And in turning to those books, so many of us are not embarking on new titles. Those are more daunting and unfamiliar. We want those books that we know; the ones that give us that warm fuzzy, and take us to that place recognizable where we remember the love, the laughter and most of all the sheer joy of embarking on a truly wonderful book.
I get that completely. I am a bibliophile from way back. I have a library of about 500 hardcover books, and my ebook files are in the thousands. I am always buying. I buy and buy. I forget what I buy. Needless to say, I have an array of things I could read.
But right now, in the midst of all this turmoil, I only wanted to read one person. Jane Austen.
Why Austen? The first thing appealing to me is that Austen’s novels transform the reader to another time. Her novels highlight a simpler world that was smaller and more intimate. The complexities and the complications of our modern world fall away between her pages. The scenarios are simpler and smaller. In reading Austen, we can lose our overwhelmed, overwrought feelings. She sticks to the basics; love, hate, sadness, joy, humor; things that are not foreign. We don’t have to spend time pondering them. We know them. They are the elements of simple humanity. Sure, those things can get complicated too, especially in Austen, but in comparison to the DNA of viruses, Stay-at-home orders, and political divides, Austen’s scenarios are a breath of fresh air.
The question was for me which one to read. I do love them all. I would think most people would choose their favorite. For most people that is “Pride and Prejudice,” But right now, I wanted Elinor and Marianne, silly and snarky Mrs. Jennings and Mr. Middleton, handsome Willoughby, and stoic and solid Colonel Brandon. “Sense and Sensibility,” is my favorite. Some say it is nowhere near as well written as P&P or her other novels. Maybe, for now, that is what attracts me. There is a simple paradigm; one girl is sensible, and the other is not. Some of the men are, and some aren’t. It’s about love lost, and love found. And most of all, like all her novels, it’s about everything coming out right in the end, which in a modern world, is never sure.
So in the midst of the whirlwind, I will be looking outside my window, watching the leaves return, filling the world with the rebirth of spring, with Jane Austen’s pages before me, far from the complicated face of the world.
Hope you can turn to your books for that other world as well. Here’s to all of us finding peace and solace!