I don’t know – she’s just great.
Okay, kidding, sort of. I figured if I’m going to spend a month trying to read as much Jane Austen related material as I can, I should probably write a little bit about why I like her work.
I’m not sure what prompted me to finally pick up Pride and Prejudice, because it was years ago, before I started tracking my monthly reading habits in 2011 and my memory is not great. In fact, I’m not even sure what prompted me to purchase the book in the first place, except that the Penguin Classics Deluxe edition is beautiful and I knew there was a Colin Firth TV mini-series with him in a bathtub. In recent years I’ve been more interested in reading classics and perhaps finally reading Pride and Prejudice jump started that.
At any rate, I read and enjoyed Pride and Prejudice, finding Austen’s social commentary to be witty, despite some large differences in my lifestyle and that of her characters. I followed this up with Sense and Sensibility, because I’d seen the movie with Alan Rickman (Alan!) and enjoyed it. I enjoyed the book as well, and Colonel Brandon will forever look like Alan in my head.
I’m not sure if seeing the movie adaptations of her books has given me more insight or understanding to her work, but from the ones I’ve seen, I’ve found them to be well adapted and sometimes it helps to have the basics of the story, or character relationships, before delving into the sometimes minute details that Austen provides.
I’ve read Pride and Prejudice four or five times and each time, I pick up on a few more details. I’ve yet to read any of her other books multiple times, but I assume the same thing would happen. Jane Austen is not a writer whose work I can just devour in a day or two – it takes some time to get through and I do actively try to absorb what she’s saying and understand how it applied to life in her time.
I feel like I’m probably rambling and really haven’t given much insight into why I enjoy her work. So I’ll just say that despite her work being over 200 years old, and the societal life she depicts being vastly different from my own, I still find her work witty and enjoyable and that’s impressive to me. Sadly, I find a lot of older work to be dull and dry, so it’s a delight to truly enjoy something this different from what I normally read. The more of Austen’s work I read, the more I enjoy it.
Have you read any of Austen’s work? Did you enjoy it? Or do you have a classic author that you enjoy, who you were maybe surprised to find yourself enjoying? I didn’t think that over the past few years I would have such a growing Austen collection and be obsessed with collecting various editions of Pride and Prejudice.