I’m getting ready for church this morning, and today will be the first Sunday we’ve attended all summer long. My husband is reading in the service today, so I feel somewhat obligated to tag along. If you’re sensing some reluctance on my part, you’d be right. Church services and activities seem awfully ponderous to me lately, and not even the prospect of socializing with my friends makes it more attractive. I confess…I’d prefer to stay home with my book and a fresh pot of coffee.
I wonder if Jane Austen ever felt that way about church? I’m sure being a “CD” (clergyman’s daughter) meant her weekly appearance at services was de rigueur. There were were probably numerous Sundays she would have preffered to remain behind, taking advantage of the unusual quiet in the parsonage to write undisturbed.
I also wonder what Jane would have thought about the recent spate of books about her, all the modernized versions of her novels, the imagined stories of her life, even a tv miniseries based on the adventures of a modern day girl who gets whisked back in time to the Austen-era.
This thought has been in the back of my mind as I’ve been reading Jane Austen Ruined My Life, by Emily Pattilo. In this novel, Emma Grant, an English professor and Austen scholar, finds herself in possession of some of Austen’s “lost letters,” the ones everyone believes were destroyed after Jane’s death. Emma is reeling from a nasty divorce, one which cost her not only her husband but her career. Her faith in the Austen novels’ “happily ever after” endings has been severely tested. The letters reveal that Austen herself may have suffered a secret, unfulfilled love, one which has been kept secret from the world. Emma’s dilemma…whether to reveal this information, thereby making a name for herself in the world of Austen scholarship, or to keep the information private, as Jane Austen so obviously wished.
I chose this novel, and others like it, for the Everything Austen challenge, but I admit to a twinge of guilt about reading them. Jane Austen’s life was certainly not the stuff of celebrity fodder – with the exception of her writing, it was quite normal, and it seems a bit odd that there are all these modern novels trying to make something exciting of a rather ordinary existence. But I own all the original Austen novels, and I’ve read each one several times. I’ve seen all the screen adaptations, read the scholarly biographies. So I hope Jane won’t mind my indulgence in these fanciful forays into her life.
And now I must be off to worship ~ I had hoped to spend the afternoon watching my DVD of Sense and Sensibility, but I’ve spent hours looking for it and can’t find it anywhere. I’m sure if I rent if from the video store, I’ll run across it immediately, for isn’t that always the way?
Now tell me, what’s in store for your Sunday?