He was interrupted by a summons to dinner; and the girls smiled on each other. They were not the only objects of Mr. Collins’s admiration. The hall, the dining-room, and all its furniture, were examined and praised; and his commendation of everything would have touched Mrs. Bennet’s heart, but for the mortifying supposition of his viewing it all as his own future property. The dinner too in its turn was highly admired; and he begged to know to which of his fair cousins the excellency of its cooking was owing. But he was set right there by Mrs. Bennet, who assured him with some asperity that they were very well able to keep a good cook, and that her daughters had nothing to do in the kitchen. He begged pardon for having displeased her. In a softened tone she declared herself not at all offended; but he continued to apologise for about a quarter of an hour. From Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”
For my taste in reading books with happy endings, I blame Jane Austen.
After having to study a massive amount of literature written by dead old men in school, I was quite taken with Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” A female author in whose world women were witty, intelligent, imperfect and terribly fun to inhabit in a good book, I still look for those qualities of character. I also like a bit, or a lot, of romance in my chosen fiction. So I tend toward to the romance genre, though there is an air of romance (or outright lust) in most genres. Please tell me you don’t think Westerns novels are just about cattle drives, right?
There is a reason that ”Pride” has been made into so many movie versions, the famous BBC miniseries starring Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, and even inspired a book with zombies. It is an amazing piece of fiction. In my opinion, a must-read book. Which is exactly what I told my mother when extoling the virtues of Austen. Unfortunately, my mom started her Austen experience with “Emma.” She did finish the book, but she didn’t like it. I can’t blame her. While I liked it, I didn’t love it.
“Persuasion” is my next favorite Austen novel. A woman for whom the first blush of young beauty is fading meets her former beau, now a successful sea captain. Who hasn’t run into an ex and thought, “I wish I had taken time to put on the jeans that make me look smaller and firmer in all the best places”? You root for Anne Elliot as you root for Elizabeth Bennet in “Pride.” A wonderful film of “Persuasion” was made in the mid-1990s starring Ciaran Hinds and Amanda Root.
“Sense and Sensibility” comes next on my list. A great book and a great movie starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Alan Rickman. This novel showcases the social history that can be learned from Austen’s writings. The Dashwood women find themselves in a poor position after their step-brother inherits their father’s estate. Women of class couldn’t work without disgrace and couldn’t inherit entailed estates. So what are four gals to do? They depend on the kindness of a far-flung family member and try to build a life. Loves found, loves lost, London ballrooms, a near death experience, then loves found again. What’s not to like!?
Check these novels out, then move on to “Emma,” “Mansfield Park,” Northanger Abby,” and finally “Lady Susan.”