I have just finished rereading every Jane Austen novel. This was a goal I had set for myself during the summer of 2009, and I just finished with the last of the group, Northanger Abbey. I always save Northanger for last. It is not that I do not love it as I do the others, for I do love it, but I find that the characters of her other novels better suit my personality. The Heroine of Northanger is just a little more passive (I will refuse to say "wimpy") than I could ever imagine, so it is much more difficult for me to identify with her. I once took a test online that told me which of the Austen characters I was most like. The result: Elizabeth Bennett. I have to agree wholeheartedly. I have always admired her spunk and straightforwardness!
Above: Portrait of Jane Austen
At any rate, I adore all of Austen's novels and could read and reread them over and over again. Most recently, I joined the Jane Austen Society of North America (or JASNA), as I am hoping to learn even more about Jane Austen and her works. So far, I have been rather disappointed, but I will reserve my opinion until the end of my first, fledgling year with the group. I just cannot get enough of Jane, and I am excited about this new path upon which I hope to gain even more knowledge and insight!
I am hoping within the next couple of years for an anniversary trip to England. My Dear Husband is not as keen on Jane as I am, you see. In fact, when I rent one of the many movies, perhaps a version I have never seen, and beg him to give it a chance to "speak to his heart," he simply smiles and says he will leave it to speak to my own heart, which I may share with him afterward. He prefers ESPN, Fox News or a good spy mystery to any of Jane's works. He did make it through one hour of Sense and Sensibility, once. I was quite thrilled with his progress. Anyway, back to the hope of a trip to England -- my dream is to visit Jane Country. I would love nothing more than to see where stood Steventon Rectory, where Jane was born and spent 25 years of her life. It was also here that she wrote Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility and Northanger Abbey. Although the rectory is no longer standing, the 12th century Steventon Church, where Jane worshipped, stands almost unchanged from those days. One can find inside the church memorial tablets to James Austen, Jane's eldest brother, who took over the parish from her father. His grave is in the churchyard. There is also a bronze plaque dedicated to Jane Austen inside the church. In January 1995, members of JASNA paid for the refurbishment of the church bells.
Above: A depiction of Steventon Rectory, birthplace of Jane Austen, as it appeared in the early 1800s
Below: Steventon Church as it appears today
While in England, I would also like to visit some of the countryside and villages mentioned in Jane's novels. I have a feeling that this will be a venture which will take much convincing with DH, but he is very good about that sort of thing. In fact, he even went with me to visit the House of Seven Gables and the birthplace of Nathaniel Hawthorne in Massachusetts, so I do have hope that he will also indulge me this. I will keep you posted!
I am listing below links to some of my favorite Austen sites. Take some time to browse and enjoy yourself! I visit each of these often!
If you're interested, please let me know, and I will send you a coupon for $5 off any of the items in the gift shop.
The blessing of peace in all families,