The Classics Club monthly meme for March is:
Do you love Jane Austen? Or want to “dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin bone?” (Mark Twain quotation)
Favourite Austen novel and why?
For me this is an easy question. I LOVE AUSTEN!
Austen has been on my radar since my early teens, but I didn’t read any of her novels until my mid/late teens and I didn’t study any of her novels until I was at university. In hindsight all of this was a blessing. It means I didn’t come to Austen with preconceived ideas or memories of drool teachers in stifling classrooms (as an English teacher I am determined to make any novels I teach exciting and engaging!) I came to Austen on my own terms, and yes I didn’t entirely enjoy Pride and Prejudice on first read, but luckily for me I didn’t write Austen off completely.
Since then I have read all of Austen’s novels and seen many TV and film adaptations and my love has only grown. Part of the reason I enjoy her novels stems from the witty language used throughout and the beautiful descriptions of each and every character. Yes, some of the characters grate on my nerves *cough* Lydia Bennett *cough* but they only add to the pleasure I derive from my read; don’t we all enjoy a great love/hate relationship with certain characters. The insightful depictions of family relationships and the trials and celebrations that come from these, as well as the closeness and the bond between sisters in the novels (not all) are one of the reasons her novels, for me, remain timeless.
Arguably the most obvious reason Austen remains a well loved and prominent literary figure stems from the romantic attachments of her heroines. From Lizzie to Darcy, Emma to Mr Knightley, we can always expect a joyous romantic ending to an Austen novel. However, for some it is not the romance the endures, but the one that flashes by, that makes Austen novels a pleasure to read. A sentiment that leads me perfectly into my favourite Austen novel.
Sense and Sensibility is my favourite Austen novel: I love the relationship between Elinor and Marianne and how their differences compliment one another and show up the flaws in the other’s personalities. For me it is the dastardly Mr Willoughby that earns this novel a special place in my heart. I do love a good villain. I find the confusion surrounding Elinor and Edward and their love for one another a fascinating storyline that still resonates with modern life.
And I don’t just love Austen for the novels. As mentioned there have been hundreds of TV and film adaptations of all Austen novels, as well as countless portrayals of her life, and it is through these that a share a special bond with my mum. She never seems to have time for reading (a truly shocking thought) however she does enjoy period dramas and it is Austen who holds the crown in this arena. You can’t beat a fantastic Austen adaptation: the beautiful buildings, enduring love stories and, of course, the ever present pianoforte!
Oh I have a yearning for an Austen-feat now!