Emboldened by the confession of book website guru Carol Fitzgerald–she who runs ReadersGroupGuides.com and BookReporterCom, not to mention I don’t know how many other book related websites, I have a confession to make.
Here it is. I never read Jane Austen. YES! You heard right. Hiss, boo, throw shoes, denounce me as the poser I am. But somehow I have reached mature adulthood without ever embracing Janeism. I want to, I really want to read Jane. But I haven’t yet.
I sat all the way through a screening this morning of THE JANE AUSTEN BOOK CLUB with my movie critic friend Eleanor, hoping not to be found out. The movie, by the way, is utterly charming and lovely. And Hugh Dancy, the actor who plays Grigg, the sole male member of the book club, is a stone HOTTIE. I think I can say with some authority that if Grigg ever wanted to come to my book club, we would all be all over that like stink on a dog. Wooh! I am getting positively warm thinking about that. Oh, wait. Maybe it’s a hot flash. Or the fact that it’s ninety-leven degrees in my corner of Atlanta.
And at lunch afterwards, I managed to chat casually about the movie without giving away my hideous secret. Then, I go home and open my email, and what do I find–the Bookreporter email with Carol’s own public confession. I find it positively liberating to own up now.
That night, in a near frenzy of movie-watching, my friend Anne and I went to see BEING JANE AUSTEN. Another wonderful movie–made even more lovely by the fact that through the magic of cinema we were transported to cool, rainy 19th century England instead of sweaty, sweltering modern-day Atlanta. At dinner afterwards, I admitted my heresy to Anne.
How did it come to pass that I could reach mature adulthoo9d without reading Jane? In high school, I took all kinds of advanced, honors English classes, with titles like Analytical Writing, and British Poetry and Drama, and American Prose. I read most of the required stuff, including almost the entire D.H. Lawrence oeuvre, yes, including LADY CHATTERLY’S LOVER–which my friend Fletcher kindly swiped from his mom’s slip drawer for me. I swear, I don’t think Jane was on the syllabus. Of course, I did go to high school back in the dark days of polyester bell-bottoms love beads and mood rings, but I honestly don’t remember being asked to read many authors of the female persuasion. We read JANE EYRE, of course, but most of the other stuff we read, it seems to me, was the work of DEAD WHITE GUYS.
So. I’m putting it out here. If I’m going to read Jane, and I swear, I am, where should I start? Your suggestions are humbly solicited.