My journey with Austen (so far)

Personally I always find it interesting to hear people’s stories of how they came to read Jane Austen’s books, so I thought I should share with you how I first came in contact with her work. I had heard of Jane Austen before, but I never really concidered reading her books (indeed, I didn’t even know what books she had written!) until November 2004. At the time I was, together with my family, on a six months trip around the world. We were at our first stop, which was Ann Arbor in Michigan. Being a family where 100% of us could be classified as book lovers we of course had to make a visit to the local Barnes & Noble bookstore (or three or four visits to be quite honest). I needed to buy a book because in a couple of days we would be leaving and taking the train, the Empire Builder, from Chicago to Seattle. A journey that would take no less than 46 hours! Obviously I would need something to read during that time! So, I was looking around for something that seemed good and came across this table where they had a whole bunch of classics on display; and Emma was one of them. I picked it up, read the back of it and thought “hm, sounds pretty good. Maybe I should give it a try”. So I bought it. A few days later on the train I was going to start reading it and I was stupid enough to begin with the introdiction! The introduction for this edition was something around 100 pages (!), but I gave up almost right away. I didn’t understand anything of what they were talking about, and I was just thinking “what is this for a lousy book?!” And away it went, back into my bag, banished from my sight… It wasn’t until two months later that I finally picked it up again. At this point we were in Fiji, out on a small beautiful island, surounded by crystal clear ocean. But… I had nothing to read! I decided to give it another go, but this time I decided I was not going to start with the introduction! After just a few pages I was hooked! I was lying on the beach, reading and reading! And of course, I loved the book!

Reading Emma on the beach in Fiji.

Since then I have learnt never to read the introduction first to any classic that I am starting on! It might work for some people, but for me; I just seem to get stuck there if I try to do that.

I had now read my first Jane Austen book, and I loved it, but I wasn’t quite a devoted fan yet. Another couple of months on our journey saw us in Byron Bay, Australia, and there I picked up Pride and Prejudice at a local second hand book store. An old tattered copy, but oh what a gem! I read it in a couple of days, and that was it, now I was really convinced!

As we reached the end of that year I had bought, and read, all four of her remaning novels. I had been introduced to the film adaptations by watching the five hour long BBC mini-series from 1995 of Pride and Prejudice. By this time there was just no turning back!

Since then I have seen pretty much every film adaptation ever made of a Jane Austen book (I think there are one or two old BBC ones that I have not yet watched). I have visited Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, The Jane Austen Center in Bath. I have made myself three Regency dresses and a Spencer jacket to go along. And I have devoured a number of books about Jane and the time that she lived in. I find that the more I do, see and read, the more I want to do, see and read! Jane Austen’s world really is addictive! At least for me. But I don’t mind; it’s a wonderful thing to be addicted to in my opinion! 🙂

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4 Responses to My journey with Austen (so far)

  1. Mari says:

    Hiii Aurora!!
    Nice of you share your story with Jane Austen. My first contact with her was by the movie Pride and Prejudice (2005). I loved the movie, and then I decided to give it a try in the book. After that, I became addicted to her novels too. Her historical reality is more distant for me than for you (I’m from Brazil), but I just don’t love the scenario and the relationship styles, but the way that she writes. I think she is fantastic in the delicacy of her irony, a genius for her time.
    I came here by a Brazilian website about Austen – http://janeausten.com.br/
    Thanks for sharing with us!

  2. Aurora says:

    Hello Mari,

    Thank you for your comment! And welcome to my little corner of the internet. 🙂

    Jane Austen can be quite addictive really, you get sucked into her works somehow, and then it’s almost impossible to “free yourself from it” again! But that doesn’t matter, because you don’t want to anyway! 😉
    I love hearing other people’s “discoveries” of Jane Austen’s world! Thanks for telling me yours! And I whole-heartedly agree with you, the style of her writing is absoultely superb!

    All the best,
    Aurora

  3. MaryK says:

    Aurora, I have to say that your story was quite interesting!!
    And, I also have to agree with you about the introduction thing…So annoying, when it’s like 50 pages long, and you’re so eager to read the plot!
    Anyway, my story about discovering Jane is very common.I once noticed in my school library, a big massive book, and since I like big massive books, I took it! “Pride and Prejudice”, that was it. I read 100 pages per day, and it wasn’t enough! I wanted to know more, I was unsatisfied to know I have to stop reading it, the time wasn’t enough! Jane’s world, with dance balls and all, with the gentlemen who wore gravats, with mr Darcy!!It all captivated me immensely!I wish I lived in that world, it was unbelievably fascinaiting!
    Ok, I should stop rumbling on..I then read “Sense and Sensibility”, then “Persuasion”, then “Emma”, and now I am reading “Northanger Abbey” !I love Jane Austen, and my dream is to visit her house-museum in Chawton!:)

  4. Liz Wallis says:

    I love your page… and am a confirmed “Janite” too <3 Thank you for sharing your experiences !

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