Saturday, December 11, 2010

A Year Of Austen

'My idea of good company is the company of cleverwell-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation; that is what I call good company'

Austen and Janeites are excellent company. This year, my Austen obsession manifested not in terms of the number of Austen-related books I read and movies I watched, but in terms of how I could relate every random thing that happened, to Austen.

Indeed I wrote a profile of myself - an Indian Austen fan - as a guest post for the lovely Priya at Uniquely Priya. I referenced Salman Rushdie's quote that linked Austen and Indian women. I wrote about what it meant to be an Austen-tatious Indian:

"To me, Austen’s books have been something to seek solace in, no matter what. They are books for all moods. When I’m sad, a few witty sentences of Pride and Prejudice or a heart-warming letter in Persuasion, can put a smile to my face. When I’m lonely, it’s pretty nice to have Mr. Darcy and Mr. Tilney for company. Every time Auntie X harps about the need for ‘you girls’ to get married to an NRI, I think of Mrs. Bennet looking to push her daughters to the richest man possible. Every time Mr. Y speaks about his looks, I’m reminded of the vain Sir Elliot in Persuasion."

I even used/misused an Alfred Tennyson quote to prove a point about Mr.Darcy For men may come, men may go, but Mr. Darcy goes on for ever ;)

The Year of Listening to Pride and Prejudice:

Matthew Macfadyen is an amazing actor. But what's more amazing is his voice. Especially when he reads out a wonderful passage from Pride and Prejudice for the Carte Noire readers. I downloaded this a long while back and I'm glad I did. I start out early every morning, come home after a long time and in my journeys by bus, auto or just walking, it is nice to listen to Mr.Macfadyen read from Austen. It is good company, I must admit.

'The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novelmust be intolerably stupid.'
I have a yearly tradition of reading Pride and Prejudice at least once every year. This year was no different. But if there is an Austen book that stole my heart this year, it has to be Persuasion. After hearing from all and sundry about the wonderfulness of Captain Wentworth, I decided to find out for myself what was so great about him. And I'm glad I did! 

Persuasion is a beautifully written, mature love story; the kind that you feel was ahead of its time. Anne Elliot isn't a typical dashing heroine, but a heroine you care about, one whose personality flows so well with the story. I loved Persuasion and it is my second most favourite Austen book, next to Pride and Prejudice. And oh, that letter

That made this Darcy fangirl a Wentworth fangirl too. 

I also watched Rupert Penry-Jones' version of Persuasion and well, that's the only thing I have to say about it: Rupert Penry-Jones. The movie did not do justice to the book and I'm hoping that the Ciaran Hinds version is much better.

'Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery. I quit such odious subjects as soon as I can..' 

One of the highlights of my year in Austen is Miss Austen Regrets. In one word, this take on Jane Austen's life is: unforgettable. I believe this is a must-watch for every Austen fan and I'm sure you won't regret watching this movie. Miss Austen Regrets depicts Jane Austen the way I imagined her to be: spunky, sarcastic, witty and brave. To all those disappointed by Becoming Jane, Miss Austen Regrets will be your healing balm. Olivia Williams is phenomenal as Austen and it will be hard to get her image out of your mind when you read Austen.

'How quick come the reasons for approving what we like!'

I was predisposed to like these two Austen-inspired books: The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler and Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler. I first saw the movie version of The Jane Austen Book Club and I loved it! I thought the book might disappoint someone who had seen the movie first, but that's not the case. Fowler writes beautifully and the book features several discussions about Austen herself, her characters and her books that every Austen fan would love to be part of! The Jane Austen Book Club is a poignant, heart-felt tribute to the legacy of Austen and the impact she has had on so many of us.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, on the other hand, is pure fun. An Austen fan wakes up to find herself in Jane Austen's time, something that isn't quite as rosy and romantic as the Jennifer Ehles and Matthew Macfadyens have lead us to feel. Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict is a little like Lost in Austen meeting Bridget Jones' Diary. The storyline isn't original, nor too surprising and I felt the romance parts were a little boring. But where Rigler scores is in bringing out, quite comically, what it means for a 21st century Janeite to find herself stuck in Austen's England. The reality-check of sorts is hilariously written and I enjoyed reading it! (On a related note, this is great fun)

This year in Austen terms was a very memorable one. I would have loved to had more time to read many Austen-inspired books and biographies, but work and study left me with little time.To quote the lady herself: Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings. How was your year, Austen-wise?


Heather G. said...

Great Austen wrap-up for the year! Mine was definitely not as ambitious. I read Vampre Darcy's Passion by Regina Jeffers, read P&P, watched many of the movies over and over again. Attended Pemberley's Ball as Lady Godiva and won a few things Darcy-like! Persuasion is also my second favorite after P&P. Such a beautiful story.

Anonymous said...

Lovely post! Your love for Austen shines through! :)
Thanks for linking to my blog. And I must thank you again for that guest post. You got me interested in Austen. I did take up the Austen Challenge, but sadly, haven't been able to read a single book for it. :(
I am trying to read Persuasion now. I don't promise I'll finish it, but I do want to try. And I'm trying hard indeed.

ds said...

Persuasion is my favorite Austen novel, too! So glad you enjoyed it. You had quite a year with Ms. Jane, that's for sure!

Vaishnavi said...

What a beautful post on Austen. I admit Austen is like a happy drug! I even love the sight of all six books lined up on my bookshelf. I was undecided on what I wanted to read now that I have finished the Agatha Christie that I was reading. Perhaps I wil pick up Mansfield Park. The only Austen I haven't read.

Kals said...

Gofita - Thank you! I wish I made it to the Pemberley Ball, but I was caught up with work. I'm glad you had fun :) So true. I'm delighted that I read Persuasion this year. It was a great experience!

Priya - Thank you so much for this comment and the chance to write a guest post for you (it made it to my 'Popular Posts' list and I'm so happy!) Aw, that's okay. Take your time and read Austen when you can. Hopefully, you'll enjoy the books as much as many of us do :) I'll be looking forward to your thoughts.

ds - I sure did! :) I'm glad to find more Persuasion fans. That book is sorely underrated outside the Austen circle.

Vaishnavi - Aww, thanks :) We're too similar! Mansfield Park is the one Austen I haven't read either. I started with it this year, but gave up a few chapters in :| I ought to find time for it again. Austen is the happy drug many of us would recommend no? :)

Kim said...

When first reading Jane Austen, I found it difficult reading -- had to read for context. After starting a third book I thought, "Has she changed her writing? It is getting easier to understand." :) Mansfield Park was my least favorite.

Laurel Ann (Austenprose) said...

Kals, can you send me you email address?

Laurel Ann, Austenprose


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