Don’t Know Jack About Jane

Emboldened by the confession of book website guru Carol Fitzgerald–she who runs 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.

6 thoughts on “Don’t Know Jack About Jane”

  1. Personally- I would start with renting a copy of the wonderful film, Sense and Sensibility with Emma Thompson and Kate Winslet. That way you can act like you have read the novel but of course….haven’t.

  2. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve never read any of her books either and I love “classic” novels.

  3. Pride and Prejudice is of course a classic, not to mention you then have a fabulous excuse to watch several movie versions with yummy leading men.

    Also, Emma, is great. And again there are several movies (my favorite is the one with Gwyneth).

    And while I loved Sense and Sensiblity, I had to watch the movie first, because I kept getting lost in the book.

    But my all time favorite Austen books, and I would recommend you start with one of these two, are Mansfield Park (which does have a good movie) and Northenger Abbey.

    And by the way, love your books, can’t wait for the next one, and I’m live just a bit south of Atlanta.

  4. My favorite Jane Austen is Pride and Prejudice, but I don’t think it matters where you start. I read Jane over and over again and never get tired of her. I think you’ll love the wit in the novels!

  5. HILARIOUS that I find this post on a Sunday afternoon while sitting here watching “Pride & Prejudice”! Life is so funny like that! My Mom & I went to see “Becoming Jane” Tuesday night of this week and it put me back in a Jane mood myself. I love “P&P” and “S&S” both the novels & the movies. Love, love, love them!!!! I haven’t read the others though and after having my interest peeked again, I’m going to find Emma next!! What an amazing author! Her work makes me laugh & cry, what more can you ask for?

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