It Does Not Signify….

I’ve come to realize that most of Jane Austen’s writing just doesn’t do it for me. There… I’ve finally said it. As a one-time Comparative Lit major, that seems like an awful thing to admit. But it’s true.
Sure, I laugh out loud when I read Mr. Bennet’s sarcastic quips. And I think that Emma’s got it goin’ on, and that Mr. Edward Ferrars is the most honorable and upright of fictional men.

But honestly, I have to mock with Marianne when Elinor admits only to “esteeming” and “liking” the man she so deeply and desperately loves. I tire quickly of Mrs. Bennet’s and Mrs. Jenning’s endless prattle, am sickened by Lady Bertram’s world-class narcissism and ennui (and hold her directly responsible for 98% of the faults of her children), and actually cringe at the horrid meanness of the sisters Bingley.  

Postcard from Bath, England

Some scenes do move at a reasonable rate, but so many others drag and are repetitive and feature as a highlight the endlessly “nice” and circumlocutory [dude!] discussions everyone has and repeats over and over because nearly every character is afraid to actually say (or far worse, do) anything that might possibly or even minutely offend or position themselves poorly. The horror! After re-visiting three Austen greats this summer (Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility, and the one that did me in: Mansfield Park), I’ve come to the conclusion that the few reading hours that I can manage to scrabble together, I’ll be spending them with prose and dialog that don’t frustrate me to distraction.  

Bath Street (and the Promenade) today

 I started to ask myself, Who can read this stuff and enjoy it? And, What about those people who read Austen again and again? Are they crazy?  But I had to pull a full stop right there, because I must admit to reading Alcott’s Little Women/Good Wives at least three times a year… every year… for the past decade or more. So, I’ll nip that little hypocritical thought in the bud and say here only that I think that some of Austen’s tales just aren’t for me.

However, I fully admit that there is much to be found  in Austen that is quite nice: I can now dream that Col. Brandon really does have the voice of Alan Rickman, and that Darcy is a thousand times more handsome than Colin Firth. To think on the beauty of the English countryside. To know that others dream of true love which is never fettered by class distinctions or immoral persons. But in the until those dreams come true, here are a few things that are both Austen-y and more my speed:  

  •  Lost in Austen (Lydia: What have you done to yourself?! Me: Bwah!)
  • 1000x hotter than Colin Firth: Elliot Cowan. He can be my Darcy any time.
  • Seriously bummed I didn’t have time to visit her Museum when I was at Bath a few years ago
  • Crook your pinky: The Pump Room is so much more beautiful than shown on their website.

The Pump Room, Bath

What are your Austen loves — and your less than faves?


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