Ally Broadfield is here today to tell us why she loves Jane Austen:
I have a confession to make. I didn’t read Jane Austen’s books until I was in my early twenties. It was around the time the version of Sense and Sensibility with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson came out. I read Persuasion first, then the rest of them in quick succession. I could no more chose a favorite Jane Austen book than I could my favorite of my three children, but I can tell you the ten things I love most about her and her books.
1. I reread all of her books every year, and I feel no guilt because she created the Regency romance genre, so reading her books counts as work for me. Right?
2. Not only did she create the genre, but she also invented the romance tropes that are still used today. Pride and Prejudice = enemies to lovers. Persuasion = reunited lovers (the primary trope in One Last Kiss). Emma = friends to lovers.`
3. Reading her books counts as research for me since she obviously never made any mistakes about the Regency period since she lived in it.
4. In the book A Memoir of Jane Austen, written by her nephew, it was revealed that if asked, she would tell family members what some of her characters were doing. For example, she revealed that after the close of Pride and Prejudice, Kitty Bennet eventually married a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary ended up with a clerk who worked for her Uncle Philips. Though my thoughts usually have to do with the main characters in my books, I’m relieved to know that even Jane Austen liked to think about what her characters were up to after she stopped writing their stories.
5. Though it was very different, and more difficult, for a woman to be published during Jane Austen’s lifetime, it is a comfort for struggling authors to know that it took sixteen years from the time her father first sought publication for First Impressions until the time it was released as Pride and Prejudice.
6. Likewise, Jane Austen wrote the first draft of Sense and Sensibility in the early 1790s, but she spent many years revising it extensively before it was published in 1811.
7. Jane Austen once accepted a marriage proposal from a man six years her junior who was reported to be ill mannered and bad tempered. However, after one night, she called of the wedding, despite the fact that it would have meant security for her family when her father inevitably passed away. Perhaps Elizabeth Bennett was modeled after her after all.
8. Like most writers, Jane Austen loved to read, and though Northanger Abbey poked fun at Gothic novels, she was known to have enjoyed them as well.
9. Jane Austen was thirty-six years old when her first novel was published, and now she’s a household name, so no matter what you might be pursuing, never give up.
10. The Prince Regent “invited” Jane to dedicate the second edition of Emma to him, which in reality was a royal command she could not ignore. So chin up, ladies, even Jane Austen had to put up with vainglorious people every once in a while.
What is your favorite thing about Jane Austen? Which of her books is your favorite?