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Friday, April 20, 2007

Proud of Us: We Read Pride and Prejudice

Who was it who said, “The hurrieder I go, the behinder I get” ? Hmm, I just googled the phrase and came up with something from the Kabbalah, the iTunes website, and numerous articles about stress. There were only 245 hits on Google, which is a minimum.

I have the weekend off from editing, because nothing was ready to send to me. Fine with me! I am getting ready for a neighborhood garage sale on May 5th. It will be just the morning; our neighborhood allows it for only a few hours. If anyone wants to bring some things to sell and/or come over and hang out for a few hours on the 5th, please do! I’d love some company.

Taking a break from cleaning, I am thinking about our discussion of the classic Pride and Prejudice, by the great Jane Austen. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that our group has been reading such fine book choices! I’m proud of us that we don’t shrink from challenging books. And, every month, there are a good number of us who do get through the whole book and usually enjoy it…or can tell everyone why not!

Patty presented the book to us by telling us some biographical information about Jane Austen, though the information about Patty was interesting, too. Patty has made scrapbooks on two authors: Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters (OK, that’s really more than 2). Patty was a “Janeite,” which seems to be the name of the Jane Austen society, in California when she lived near an active chapter. They have a big party annually to celebrate Austen’s birthday! Patty has visited Austen’s home and other key places in Austen’s history.

My first question after reading the book that was so obsessed with marriage, was whether Jane Austen was married, and Patty told us she was never married. She lived from 1775 to 1817 and had 6 brothers and 1 sister, and neither she nor her sister married. She and her sister stayed close, and I believe they lived together. All Austen’s books were about marriage and romance. I thought it was interesting to think about whether Austen was in the story – we decided that perhaps Elizabeth was the person Jane Austen might have wanted to be. The story had some good satirical lines in it, zingers even. We discussed that the women characters were strong, and the human relationships were very similar to those today, even if the manners were slightly different. Austen’s books have stayed in print and popular for more than 200 years! That really is amazing, when you think of all the books out there. We felt that the characters were well-rounded, and that maybe with the slower pace of life in those days, the relationship were perhaps deeper than a lot of those today. Someone pointed out that the relationships drove the action of the story, and the story was told via dialog, letters, and gossip. Of course, we discussed the society of the time of the book, and we gossiped about the characters as if they were people we knew!

I don’t think anyone who read P&P and came to the meeting didn’t like it. I think if one didn’t like it, one would have had a hard time getting through it. Maybe some of you who weren’t there were the ones who didn’t like the book. Actually, at the end of the edition Barnes & Noble published, there were a bunch of quotes by famous authors about Jane Austen. Most were favorable, but surprisingly, several were quite critical and expressed extreme dislike of Jane Austen’s writing.

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