With Bellevere House coming up for sale next week, I thought I’d post a bit about Jane Austen. When I was growing up, JA saturated my house because of my mother. Some of my earliest creative efforts involved making little picture books of Pride and Prejudice, although I haven’t been interested in the story since. She really was just wallpaper and I didn’t think she was interesting. She was just there.
After working on the JA project, I began to rethink this author and her fans. My mother was not typical. Her view was old-fashioned even when she was young (the 1960s) and one of the few other fan-type commentaries she enjoyed was a book written in the 1940s. The 1940s. So I wasn’t prepared for the 21st century fans, or even late 20th century fans. The cult. The explosion. The Jane Austen girls. I didn’t know who these people were and I didn’t overly care. But I did gradually notice their movies and fanfiction had a tone I didn’t expect. Some of the movies were dark, sleazy, or bizarre; others droning, angsty, or a bit odd when portraying characters. (Such as Harriet.)
I hadn’t thought of working with any of the novels in an in-depth way and I lumped them all together as DeBooksByJehnAusten. (Sounds like a name for a fan website, doesn’t it?) Once I did, I noticed surprising things, and when I watched the movies closely, instead of casually, I saw more. And then I was reminded of that old 1940s book. The authors of that book had rated the novels from best to worst and I’d wondered why they put P&P so near the bottom and Emma so near the top. True, I didn’t care about P&P—but didn’t everyone love it? And EMMA? Boring, BORING Emma at the top??
I came to feel that was entirely true. Their list was pretty much accurate. Even then, they were seeing something I wasn’t in these books. And after I overheard someone talking about the parents in JA, as a way to rate the books, I saw they also all agreed. So here, partly based on them, partly on personal experience, is my official Jane Austen list.
And there will be more updates.
Singing, dreaming, telling stories . . . I live surrounded by cultivated fields that rapidly give way to wild flowers, wild plants, and wild life. I love to write more than I love to read, but nothing equals a book that draws me in to find its story. Most recently publication: A Year with the Harrisons, a contemporary coming of age about three sisters, country life, and music. Next year's publication: Temmark Osteraith, a futuristic fairy-tale adventure.