Today is Jane Austen's birthday. I'm conflicted about Jane Austen. I want to like her books, but I often do not. I may be the only English major ever to not like Pride and Prejudice--and no, you may not take my Ph.D. away; I earned it, and I'm going to keep it.
The only Jane Austen novel that I love wholeheartedly is Northanger Abbey. If that book didn't exist, I'd think that all Austen scholars were a bit touched. But Northanger Abbey proves to me that Austen is a woman of wit and intellect, and with humor thrown into the mix.
Here's a Jane Austen quote for the day: "Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance."
When I first read that quote, I read choice instead of chance: Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of choice.
Those two quotes (one by Austen, one by Berkey-Abbott) show to me the vast difference in being a 19th century woman anywhere and being a 21st century woman in a first world nation.
If I had the kind of life I wish I had (one of lots of time and leisure and friends with lots of free time), I'd throw a Jane Austen tea today. We'd have a pot of strong tea softened with cream and sugar, scones, clotted cream, lemon curd, and some cucumber sandwiches. And because I'd be a woman of leisure, I'd have made a beautiful coconut cake (that's why I'd have leftover lemon curd, because I'd be using the recipe out of Moosewood Restaurant Book of Desserts), and because it's close to Christmas, we'd have ambrosia, and I wouldn't care about repeating the flavors of lemon and coconut.
Come to my virtual tea! We'll eat and chat and read our favorite passages from Austen.