Amid the chaos of house projects and preparing for company (and more house projects), I managed to carve out bits and pieces of down time (ie. laundry folding) to watch snippets of some well-loved Jane Austen films.
I found myself inexplicably happy as I watched, filled with some of the best memories. I am truly in love with Jane Austen’s unique wit and perfect dialogue.
I received my first set of Jane Austen novels the summer after 7th grade. My brother’s girlfriend was working at a bookstore in Denver and sent me a special collection of lovely hardback books. I immediately selected the thickest copy, Sense and Sensibility, and began to read. Some of the vocabulary was over my head, and I struggled to keep up with the characters and actions. I wasn’t well versed (or versed at all really) in British literature at the time. Eventually I switched to Pride and Prejudice, but the five different Miss Bennets had me utterly confused. I still loved to read them though and continued my pursuit in spite of my confusion.
A few years later, when I was about 15, Jane Austen made a resurgence in my life. I was visiting the same brother, now married to the girlfriend who had first introduced me to Jane Austen. MF and I watched Emma, Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice in about a 24-hour span. I was smitten. I was able to keep track of the characters, understand the plot lines, delight in the dialogue. I still remember so vividly, MF and I laying on a twin bed in their guest room watching for hours, and as John loaded the car and kept prompting us that we needed to get on the road, still we watched, transfixed. Eventually, he came into the room and turned the TV off.
In college, I was delighted to learn that my new roommate had the exact same tiny, hardback copy of P&P that I did, and she even had it for the same reason: A traveling copy. It fits so nicely into a purse or carry-on!
During the summers, Mom and my SIL, K, and I would get together to scrapbook. We would steal my brother’s projector and play the long A&E version of P&P on a giant screen while we scrapped away.
In graduate school, I started inviting friends from all walks of life to join once-a-month Jane Austen film nights. We would watch any and every version of each book, and discuss late into the night what we liked and didn’t like about each version and how they compared to the books. I brought friends together from different parts of my life, and they brought friends. I met new people. There were women from 19 years old to 35, and we delighted in each others’ perspectives.
Now, I have a home of my own, and I can’t wait for fall. Because I will pull one of my well worn copies of P&P from the shelf, curl up with a blanket in front of the fire and indulge in Austen’s unforgettable wit and dialogue. It will be heaven.