I just recently saw a commercial for the Anne Hathaway movie about Jane Austen--a movie I'll admit I haven't yet seen--and I'm always struck anew of Jane's eternal popularity.

PBS has been showing all Jane all the time on Masterpiece Theatre. One of the gals in my book club has a Jane Austen Action Figure, and though I'm not quite sure how much action Jane had in her life--maybe some light strolling in between carriage ride--we sometimes bring her out for some poses. This happened a lot when we were reading MANSFIELD PARK. Jane just shows no signs of quitting!

But my appreciate of Jane is pretty recent. Perhaps shockingly recent, since she's considered by many to be the creator of the romance novel. However, I have always believed there are two types of women: there are Austen women and there are Bronte women.

At heart I have always been a Bronte woman. I could appreciate Austen's brilliant wit, but all that repressed passion made my mind wander. For me, there's nothing better than a madwoman in the attic or a ghost wandering the moors. Austen's heroines have too much common sense to get messed up in all that.

Of late, however, I have grown to appreciate Austen's subtle wit and quietly subversive perspective. But I do still find it a little disappointing that we can't know her better, since so many of her letters were destroyed and so much of her life seems to be shrouded in mystery. The lives of the Bronte sisters, especially Charlotte, is all too much in the open. How sad to think of them living in isolation with an eccentric father, drunken brother and TB all around.

Of course, what we don't know about Austen has allowed Syrie James to create her wonderful novel, THE LOST MEMOIRS OF JANE AUSTEN. She gets to fill in some of the blanks in such a satisfying way. And, because I'm still also such a Bronte fan, I'm happy to say that Syrie is currently writing a book about Charlotte B and her family, to be published in 2009. Now I feel as if I'm getting the best of both worlds!

4 Comments:

Anonymous Alison said:

But I like both equally, so what does that make me?!

On the subject of Becoming Jane, just think of it as a regular story and that it's not biographical and you'll be fine when you watch it...

8:13 AM  

Anonymous vicky dreiling said:

I had to write because my critique partner gave me the Jane Austen action figure for Xmas. I love it! Will definitely buy The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen. I keep wondering what scandalous things Jane wrote that caused her sister Cassandra to burn her letters. OK, maybe not scandalous, but I have an overly active imagination. :-) I love Jane's novels, especially P&P and Sense and Sensibility. Cheers!

9:22 AM  

Blogger Mary Castillo said:

I was on Team Bronte, too. (Although I still think Jane should've stuck it to her Aunt when she had the chance!)

But after reading Syrie's book, I'm now rediscovering Jane Austen. I know its fashionable to profess great love for Pride & Prejudice but my favorite is Persuasion.

Cheers,
Mary C. who is off to search for a Jane A. action figure

1:57 PM  

Blogger Bella Nye said:

I got a kick out of your comparison of Austen and Bronte! I, too, am a Bronte woman through and through.

4:11 PM  

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