Chasing Jane: Pursuing Jane Austen is Always a Pleasure
Having first discovered Jane Austen as a child means that I've been pursuing her for many years now. I distinctly remember being enchanted by the fairy tale aspects of Emma; beautiful heroine, dashing hero, wealth, luxury. etc, etc. I also remember trying to figure out what the heck a "fortnight" was.
Her penchant for happy endings was also appealing.
All-in-all I perceived Austen's world as something very "Disneyfied" where beautiful damsels were aided by kindhearted helpers something like this ...
It wasn't until much later that I came to appreciate the real grit of Austen's writing. I rediscovered Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility only because they came as free content on my first eBook. Turns out that the reality underlying the fairy tale can often be a bit grim and I can now appreciate how Austen's delicious irony manages to reveal a wealth of social hypocrisy, highlight the plight of women being dependent on marriage for economic security, and be most entertaining at the same time. No mean feat that!
Having reestablished my relationship with Jane I chased through the rest of her portfolio and, eager for more, started branching out.
Longbourn by Jo Baker, a tale told by the servants of Pride and Prejudice, kept me in the world of the Bennets while emphasizing that those "kindhearted helpers" previously mentioned were actually flesh & blood servants with difficult lives of their own.
I'll never again think of Elizabeth Bennet walking purposefully through the mud to visit her sister Jane without considering the grueling work of the laundress to clean her clothes afterwards.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was actually a whole lot of fun. I haven't seen the video yet but I most enjoyed reading about the Bennet women and their slaying skills. Where Austen used words against her foes Elizabeth can now use a sword!
Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James provides a more traditional extension to P&P and throws in a murder mystery to boot. It was lovely to catch up with these old friends and see what they've made of their lives after the "happily ever after".
Turns out that I'm still a sucker for happy endings!
Those residents of Second Life that enjoy Austen and Regency Literature in general should check out the Foray Literary Society. They meet once a month with their next session scheduled for December 4, 2016 where they will be discussing Pride & Prejudice along with some of the other books mentioned here.
Originally published as Chasing Jane: Pursuing Jane Austen is Always a Pleasure