I love Jane Austen. I know, Mark Twain (another fave author of mine), despised her. In fact, I think he said something akin to “I detest her characters,” but with all due apology to Mr. Twain, I disagree. I enjoy Elizabeth’s wit, Darcy’s hauteur and Lydia’s woeful behavior. Emma’s immaturity makes me laugh, and Anne Elliott’s constancy makes me cry. I think Marianne’s journey to love is as touching as Fanny Price’s journey to self-esteem is courageous.
I once received a beautiful set of Austen’s books in hardback, and I re-read two or three at least twice a year. With each re-read I discover something new – the books were truly a gift that keep on giving. And just the experience of re-reading them is a self indulgence. I look forward to a glass of wine, a cozy throw and a chapter or two after my own little heroines have gone to bed.
This is not to say my pleasure in Austen’s social commentary on English society in the 1800s is derived solely from print. No folks, I have to really fess up now – I watch the movies too. And I’m a harsh critic. Anything deviating too much from the actual plot and dialogue annoys me to no end, and therefore my favorite versions of Jane’s tales on screen usually hail from the BBC. Most of the time, I can count on the plot and dialogue to stay true, and in my experience, the BBC does a nice job of casting actors who render character portrayals that meet my “great expectations” (I know, it’s a Dickens pun, but I couldn’t resist!).
Fortunately, I don’t have to land a plane at Heathrow to get my BBC fix. In fact, the best way to channel the BBC acually comes via B’nN. ‘Tis true. Barnes & Noble has an entire section of their website (and their stores) dedicated exclusively to the BBC-produced movies and television programs. They offer the complete set of Jane Austen, which includes her lesser-known works as well as Emma, Persuasion, the Colin Firth version of Pride & Prejudice (yummy!) as well as my favorite rendition of Sense & Senibility (sorry, Hugh, you’re not it).
And just in case there are some of you who channel Twain, not Jane, there’s Poirot(mystery!), Monty Python (humor!), and Top Gear (cars!) to whet your anti-Austen whistle!