Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live, of the many comforts of our lot; that we may not deserve to lose them by discontent or indifference.” Jane Austen, Prayer 1, Minor Works 454
Jane Austen’s prayers give wonderful insight into her values for living and aspirations for interactions with her “fellow-creatures”. Whether one shares her Christian faith or not, I think her desire to be more thankful in Prayer 1 has resonance for this strange year. This is a year in which many things that we took for granted suddenly became of central importance. I am thankful for having food to eat, shelter, good health, and ways to connect with those I love, even if I cannot see them in person. I am thankful for the work of all those who keep our everyday lives running—those who staff the stores, work in the hospitals and clinics, care for loved ones, produce our food, deliver mail, and move goods around. I am consciously trying to be more grateful each day for the small things—a hot cup of tea, the sound of a loved one’s voice, a walk outside–and to acknowledge those big blessings in my life.
I am also grateful for Jane Austen. Reading Jane Austen helps me to find some sense of calm when everything seems upended. Each time I re-read one of her works I re-discover some new treat of phrasing or characterization. It has been a joy to connect with people who love Jane as much as I do either on social media or through our region’s Zoom meetings. Our region is very spread out geographically, so it is a celebration for all of us to gather together on Zoom and be joined by people from around the country and Canada. I enjoyed being able to attend the JASNA virtual Annual General Meeting in October and watch the videos throughout the month. We even had JASNA president Liz Philosophos Cooper come to our virtual tea in May. If there is one upside to things going online, it is the ability to participate in Jane Austen events worldwide and meet fans from all over.
I am also thankful to the people who make our region special. Amy Lyons formed the region with me in 2017 and was a Regional Co-Coordinator for three years. Jane Provinsal is our current Regional Co-Coordinator and does an amazing job running our social media. Cassandra Bates is our treasurer and party-planner extraordinaire. Debra Peck is our secretary and is so generous of her craft and sewing talents for our events. Our members engage in dynamic discussion of all things Jane Austen. It has been a pleasure to be able to host more frequent events thanks to Zoom and get to know people better. Most of our events are free and open to anyone, so we hope you will join us at our events.
During Jane Austen’s time that was the question. The first Coffee House in Britain came about in 1675 and coffee was in favor until 1830 when coffee houses became almost extinct. This was due to the heavy political and sometimes unsavory conversations had at coffee houses as well as it was a drink mostly favored by men (probably due to the discourses had at these establishments). It was said that because of these conversations women were not in favor of said coffee houses and by Jane Austen’s time, tea was much more preferred as it was a much more non-bias family friendly drink to be had as it could be enjoyed by all not just men and elite at clubs and coffee houses. Coffee drinking is mentioned in five of Miss Austen’s seven novels (Emma, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, and Pride and Prejudice). In Pride and Prejudice in particular, Miss Austen uses coffee and tea as means to exacerbate Darcy and Elizabeth’s tension. Dr. Jessica Volz has an excellent write up on this very subject through the Jane Austen Literacy Project, check out the narrative here: https://janeaustenlf.org/pride-and-possibilities-articles/2017/2/21/issue-8-coffee-tea-and-visuality.
What would be a Coffee post without a recipe?
Mrs Maria Eliza Rundell, in A New System of Domestic Cookery, 1808,
To make Coffee
Put two ounces of fresh ground coffee, of the best quality, into a coffee-pot, and pour eight coffee-cups of boiling water on it; let it boil six minutes, pour out a cupful two or three times, and return it again; then put two or three isinglass-chips into it, and pour one large spoonful of boiling water on it; boil it five minutes more, and set the pot by the fire to keep it hot for ten minutes, and you will have coffee of a beautiful clearness.
Fine cream should always be served with coffee, and either pounded sugar-candy, or fine Lisbon sugar.
If for foreigners, or those who like it extremely strong, make only eight dishes from three ounces. If not fresh roasted, lay it before a fire until perfectly hot and dry; or you may put the smallest bit of fresh butter into a preserving pan of a small size, and, when hot, throw the coffee in it, and toss it about until it be freshened, letting it be cold before ground.
*Isinglass is a clarifying collagen, produced from the swim bladders of fish, prior to 1795 from sturgeon but after that also from cod; nowadays we would use gelatin. Lisbon sugar, otherwise known as clayed sugar, was manufactured in the colonies of France, Spain and, as the name suggests, Portugal. Wet pipeclay was laid on top of the sugar and water poured over which removed the molasses. Sugar candy is formed of large crystals of sugar, today known as rock candy or sugar. *
As for ourselves, we’re very well; as unaffected prose will tell – Cassandra’s pen will paint our state, the many comforts that await, our Chawton Home – how much we find, already in it to our mind, and how convinced that when complete, it will all other houses beat, that ever have been made or mended – with rooms concise or rooms distended. You’ll find us very snug next year, perhaps with Charles and Fanny near – for now, it often does delight us, to fancy them just over-right us!
The happy little verse above is an excerpt from a poem called “My Dearest Frank, I Wish You, Joy.” Jane Austen wrote this poem in 1809, to congratulate her brother Frank on the birth of his second child, and to sing the praises of her new home – Chawton Cottage. Jane was often inspired to write poetry for her family and special friends, to both entertain them, and to let them know in her humorous way, how much they meant to her. She composed poems on every subject, from headaches and praises, to current events and snippets of gossip. Writing imaginative verse was second nature to Jane, as she grew up in a family of talented poets. Her Mother, Brothers James and Edward, and even her Sister Cassandra, all tried their hand at rhyming. Later, her nieces and nephews joined in the fun, and her nephew James Edward Austen (later Austen-Leigh,) upon finding out his dear Aunt was responsible for writing the novels he had come to love, wrote her a humorous poem of applause! James Edward would later write one of the first biographies on Jane Austen’s life.
No words can express, my dear Aunt, my surprise – or make you conceive how I opened my eyes, like a pig Butcher Pile has just struck with his knife, when I heard for the very first time in my life, that I had the honour to have a relation, whose works were dispersed through the whole of the nation. I assure you, however, I’m terribly glad; Oh dear, just to think (and the thought drives me mad) that dear Mrs. Jennings’ good-natured strain, was really the produce of your witty brain – that you made the Middletons, Dashwoods, and all, and that you (not young Ferrars) found out that a ball, may be given in cottages never so small – And though Mr. Collins so grateful for all, will Lady De Bourgh his dear patroness call, ‘Tis to your ingenuity really he owed, his living, his wife, and his humble abode! Now if you will take your poor nephew’s advice, your works to Sir William pray send in a trice – If he’ll undertake to some grandees to show it, by whose means at last the Prince Regent might know it – for I’m sure if he did, in reward for your tale, he’d make you a Countess at least without fail – and indeed, if the Princess should lose her dear life, you might have a chance of becoming his wife!
Her Father’s extensive library at Steventon Rectory, along with the circulating library of the day, afforded Jane access to works of the great poets of her time. Jane’s brother, Henry, was recorded as stating that her favorite poet was William Cowper. Jane herself refers to his works “Tirocinium, and The Task” many times in her novels and letters. Other poets Jane admired were Dr. Samuel Johnson, the Reverend George Crabbe, Lord Byron, Charlotte Smith, and Anna Laeticia Barbauld. Jane was known to have joked with her family about being the second Mrs. Crabbe. Upon hearing of the death of the first Mrs. Crabbe, she remarked in an 1813 letter to Cassandra – “I will comfort him as well as I can, but I do not undertake to be good to her children…she had better not leave any!” George Crabbe wrote realistic poetry depicting how harsh and depressing life in the countryside could be – poems that were neither idyllic nor pastoral. Perhaps Jane admired Crabbe’s poetry for his attempts to bring the harsh reality of poverty into the social consciousness. An excerpt from William Cowper’s “Tirocinium (A Review of Schools”) from 1784 shows a romantic point of view and a lyrical rhythm which is more inviting –
Spring hangs her infant blossoms on the trees, rocked in the cradle of the western breeze. Summer in haste the thriving charge receives, beneath the shade of her expanded leaves, till Autumn’s fiercer heats and plenteous dews, dye them at last in all their glowing hues.
An excerpt from Charlotte Smith’s “Invitation to the Bee,” would have appealed to Jane’s love of nature and the joys of living in the country –
Child of patient industry, little active, busy bee, though art out at early morn, just as the opening flowers are born – among the green and grassy meads, where cowslips hang their heads, or by hedge-rows, while the dew, glitters on the hare-bell blue – then on eager wing are flown, to thymy hillocks on the down, or to revel on the broom, or suck the clover’s crimson bloom – murmuring still thou busy bee, thy little ode to industry!
There is some dispute about a little needle and thread case that Jane Austen made, in which she enclosed the following poem – written by herself. Three different biographers list the possible recipients as being Jane’s dear friend Martha Lloyd, her sister-in-law Mary Lloyd, or her niece Caroline Austen! I would like to think she wrote it for Martha Lloyd, a faithful bosom companion and friend of her lifetime.
This little bag I hope will prove to be not vainly made – for if you should a needle want, it will afford you aid – and as we are about to part T’will serve another end, for when you look upon the bag, you’ll recollect your friend!
Loyal friends were vitally important to Jane Austen, and close companions Martha Lloyd and Anne Sharp were models for perfect friendship. – From the poet Anna Laeticia Barbauld’s “Pious Friendship” –
How blest the sacred tie that binds, in union sweet according minds! How swift the heavenly course they run, whose hearts, whose faith, whose hopes are one!
Another dear friend of Jane’s youth, Madam Lefroy – inspired her to write a poem of tribute after Mrs. Lefroy’s untimely death from a horse accident on Jane’s birthday in 1804. An excerpt from one of Jane’s most heartfelt and emotional poems shows her deep feelings for her kindly mentor:
Angelic woman! Past my power to praise, in language meet thy talents, temper, mind – thy solid worth, thy captivating grace, thou friend and ornament of humankind.
The following verse is one of my very favorite Jane Austen poems, written for her niece Fanny Knight, on the occasion of Francis Austen’s wedding to Mary Gibson, July 24, 1806. The imagery this verse calls forth pulls one right into the heart of the story where you can feel every bump in the road and hear the rumbling of the carriage and the sound of the horse’s hooves pounding the lane!
See they come, post haste from Thanet, lovely couple, side by side – They’ve left behind them Richard Kennet, with the parents of the Bride! Canterbury, they have passed through, next succeeded Stamford Bridge – Chilham Village they came fast through, now they’ve mounted yonder ridge – Down the hill, they’re swift proceeding, now they skirt the Park around – Lo! The cattle sweetly feeding, scamper – startled at the sound! Run, my Brothers, to the Pier gate! Throw it open, very wide! Let it not be said that we’re late in welcoming my Uncle’s Bride! To the house the chaise advances, now it stops – They’re here, they’re here! How d’ye do, my Uncle Francis? How does do your Lady dear?
Many “Janeites” of yesteryear, inspired by the writings of Jane Austen, felt compelled to honor her – both in verse and prose. Lord Morpeth: 7th Earl of Carlisle and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Anne Isabella: Lady Ritchie, Andrew Lang, Virginia Woolf, and Rudyard Kipling, were just a few. Of these, Rudyard Kipling offers the most touching tribute, when he imagines “Jane’s Marriage:” Try not to cry when you read this – I always do!
Jane went to Paradise: that was only fair, Good Sir Walter followed her, and armed her up the stair. Henry and Tobias, and Miguel of Spain, stood with Shakespeare at the top, to welcome Jane – Then the Three Archangels, offered out of hand, anything in Heaven’s gift that she might command. Azrael’s eyes upon her, Raphael’s wings above, Michael’s sword against her heart, Jane said – “Love.” Instantly the understanding Seraphim, laid their fingers on their lips and went to look for him. Stole across the Zodiac, harnessed Charles’s Wain, and whispered round the Nebulae, “Who loved Jane?” In a private limbo, where none thought to look, sat a Hampshire gentleman, reading of a book. It was called “Persuasion,” and it told the plain, story of the love between Him and Jane. He heard the question, circle Heaven through – closed the book, and answered – “I did – and do!” Quietly but speedily (as Captain Wentworth moved) entered into Paradise, the man Jane loved! – Jane lies in Winchester, blessed be her shade! Praise the Lord for making her, and her for all she made. And, while the stones of Winchester – or Milsom Street – remain, Glory, Love, and Honour unto England’s Jane!
It is serendipitous to me that Kipling chose Jane Austen’s most mature novel for the subject of his poem because I believe Persuasion to be her most poetic novel. Jane lived a very creative life. Though her verses are few, her stories teem with all the drama poets love. They are filled with tragic and disappointing love, separation of lovers, unsettled home life, the longing for a real home, failed communication between lovers, the desire to have it all, (love and independence) and the tragedy and comedy of the human condition. How can one not see the poetry in her novels? Is not the line “Youmust allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you,”or “If I loved you less, Imight be able to talk about it more,” pure poetry? And from “Persuasion,” “Prettier musings of high-wrought love and eternal constancy, could never have passed along the streets of Bath, than Anne was sporting with from Camden-place to Westgate-buildings. It was almost enough to spread purification and perfume all the way.”Consider Captain Harville’s speech to Anne at the White Hart, and Oh! Captain Wentworth’s letter! It is poetic from beginning to end!
But, alas, it is a line from Jane Austen’s last poem that says what we all feel. On July 15, 1817, St. Swithin’s Day – Jane wrote a poem about the Winchester Races. The story in this verse tells the humorous tale of St. Swithin cursing the horse races held on a day that was supposed to honor him. She says: “When once we are buried, you think we are gone, but Behold me Immortal” – and we do.
Jane Austen and Chawton House Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Rita Greer, Licence Art Libre, Copyleft
British Library Public Domain Photos
A Memoir of Jane Austen: James Edward Austen-Leigh, Richard Bentley and Son, London 1886
A Portrait of Jane Austen: David Cecil, Penguin Books LTD, London 1980
Charlotte Smith Complete Poetical Works: Delphi Classics, East Sussex, United Kingdom 2014
Debits and Credits: Rudyard Kipling, Doubleday/Page, New York 1926
Jane Austen’s Letters: Edited by Deirdre LeFaye, Oxford University Press, New York 1995
Persuasion: Jane Austen, 1818, Penguin Classics, London 1998
The Poems of Anna Laeticia Barbauld: Edited by William McCarthy and Elizabeth Kraft, University of Georgia Press 1994
The Poetry of Jane Austen and The Austen Family: Edited by David Selwyn, University of Iowa Press/Jane Austen Society 1997
The Works of William Cowper: Hardpress, Miami, Florida 2018
One of the joys of social media is that you can connect with people from around the country and around the world. Kirk Companion, the man behind Austen in Boston: A Jane Austen Book Club (AiB), has been one of our region’s long-distance supporters since we started on Facebook in 2017. He has come to many of our online events and, like Mr. Knightley says of Robert Martin: “I never hear better sense from any one than” Kirk. I asked him to join me in this discussion of the 2020 EMMA. movie. Michele Larrow, Regional Co-Coordinator JASNA Eastern WA/Northern ID
**Note: There are some spoilers in this review.**
Kirk: I saw EMMA. 2020 in a free preview Feb 25 (the Biogen conference that brought Corvid-19 to Boston had just started that day) @ Brookline’s Coolidge Corner Theatre. I attended with two members of AiB, two members of the Jane Austen Reading Group, and one friend from a meetup.com social group. The Director Autumn de Wilde and Lead Actress Anya Taylor-Joy of EMMA. 2020 attended a Q&A afterwards. It’s on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QyDhhwDq-S4
Michele: I did not see EMMA. until it came out for rental because it came to Pullman when COVID-19 started shutting things down. I watched the movie three times since I had the rental for 48 hours 😊. I also re-watched Clueless, Emma 1996 movie, and Emma 2009 before writing the review.
1. What aspects of the 2020 film did you like?
ML: The cinemaphotography is amazing with lots of wide shots out of doors. I also like the locations and set design, although having Mr. Knightley live in a palace seems ludicrous. The costumes are wonderful and derived from period fashion magazines, but I feel like they came out of a Georgette Heyer novel (i.e., Regency high society and nobility) rather than a Jane Austen novel. I loved the music and how it both feels modern and of the time period; I bought the sound track and am enjoying it a lot.
KC: Hmmm….well I liked Harriet Smith’s story. She gets a delightful ending. I agree about the cinemaphotography and the locations. Laugh at myself…not big on costumes in general (I’m as unfashionable as can be!) and disliked 2/3 of the one Heyer novel I read. I’m glad you enjoyed the music. I enjoyed the classical music in the movie. Whereas….I hated (going full Marianne) that music from the Cold Mountain (big US Civil War reader) sound track in an Emma adaption. Seriously???? NO NO a thousand times….
2. You and I are both huge Mr. Knightley fans. What do you think about the way the character is written in the movie? Thoughts about Johnny Flynn’s performance?
KC: Okish. While apparently, he is actually not too many years younger than most of the other Mr. Knightleys, he appears to me to be in his mid 20’s. I hate to say he lacks gravitas but… One moment unacceptable…rolling on the floor…seriously??? One of the trailer scenes is Emma and Mr. Knightley arguing about Harriet (I think). That’s fairly well done. While I think he’s the youngest to play Mr. Knightley on screen, he is in fact nearly the actual age in the book…which matters not one wit to me. Judge the performance, not the age of the performer!
ML: I thought the movie was trying to romanticize Mr. Knightley—to turn him into a silent, brooding, isolated hero. He is the center of the community in the book—always doing for others and, in his own word, “amiable”. I agree about the rolling on the floor—also, OUR Mr. Knightley does not run anywhere, least of all through Highbury to Hartfield. I did like Johnny Flynn’s performance of the role as it was written. He is a fine musician and I loved that he played the violin and sang in the movie.
3. What about how Emma is portrayed in the movie—do you feel like anything is missing compared to how she is characterized in the book? Any thoughts about Anya Taylor-Joy’s performance?
ML: I thought Emma in the movie was missing the sweetness and care-taking with her father that makes her character more likeable in the book. The book also shows how much of a strain she experiences in trying to manage his life and minimize his distresses. Movie Emma doesn’t seem very friendly with people—in the book she may be bored with Miss Bates, but knows what is expected of her and talks politely to her. I also thought that Emma’s reaction after Mr. Knightley’s proposal of telling him she can’t marry him because of Harriet lacks the impact of Emma’s decision in the book to keep Harriet’s love of him a secret from Mr. Knightley in order to maintain Harriet’s dignity. Anya Taylor-Joy was so serious in the role—it seemed like the fun of Emma was missing, although she did capture her self-confidence and condescension.
KC: Far far too chilly! 90% unpleasant 10% pleasant…whereas maybe Emma ‘09 the reverse. And the nose bleed…no…gross…not not acceptable EVER!!!
Alas…having watched and read various versions of Emma, it’s hard to compare to the actual book, and I reread the book this year!
4. In the book, Emma and Mr. Knightley clearly start the story almost like siblings in that they argue, but have a close relationship and then they evolve into a romantic relationship. What do you think of how the relationship is portrayed in the movie?
KC: Ugh…not like siblings please!!! Too many people who dislike the Emma/Mr. K story use that! (I wrote a blog post about a long time ago) A bit chilly, perhaps. With such a chilly Emma, it’s hard to see the romantic relationship. Also, the short time of the movie. Emma ‘09 and Gwen Emma (and perhaps Kate Emma too) have them doing stuff in a sorta “dating” way. I can’t remember…does Emma in 2020 hold Isabella’s baby? In Kate Emma and Emma ‘09 it is quite touching. And Gwen Emma has the archery scene.
ML: In the book there seems to be several cycles of fight and make up between Emma and Mr. Knightley, where when they make up, you see that they would be good together and there is emotional closeness. There doesn’t seem to be much making up and emotionally connecting before the proposal scene in EMMA. Even when they sort of make up at the holidays (where Emma does hold the baby), the 2020 scene ends with discord about Robert Martin’s pain, rather than some emotional connection about it (as is shown in 2009). I also like the archery scene in the 1996 movie—even though they are fighting it seems gentler than the fights in some of the other versions. Also missing from 2020 is how Emma and Mr. K tag team to manage Mr. Woodhouse—which was very well done in the 2009 mini-series.
5. Aspects of the film that you didn’t like or characterizations that seemed wrong?
ML: Of course, to condense a long book into a 2-hour movie you have to cut a lot, but I think that the Jane Fairfax/Frank Churchill subplot gets almost written out of the 2020 movie. Jane is supposed to be a foil and potential rival to Emma for Mr. Knightley’s affections, but she just seemed depressed the whole movie. There is little sense that the disaster at Box Hill is instigated by Frank Churchill in his frustration about his fight with Jane. When Frank and Jane become engaged, it is out of nowhere if you don’t know the book. Also, I hated the way that the Isabella and John Knightley marriage was portrayed, with Isabella being a shrew. WHY?
KC: Apparently a Jane Fairfax/Emma reconciliation was deleted….what?? John Knightley, from what I remember, is basically a blank. Zero personality. While I’d rather be George Knightley, in truth I’d too much like John Knightley in real life!! In Emma 09, he almost steals the scenes he’s in. And Isabella shows a quiet strength and wit of her own. As Michele points out, she is a shrew in 2020. Mrs. Elton 2…no thank you!!!!
6. Favorite scene in the film?
KC: I hope a re-watch will increase my appreciation for the film. Harriet Smith’s final moments in the film with Robert Martin. Also, Harriet’s moments with her friends.
ML: My favorite scene is probably the ball scene when Emma and Mr. Knightley dance.
Rating and Ranking all the Emma versions
(in chronological order, information from imdb.com)
1. Clueless (movie with Alicia Silverstone and Paul Rudd, director and writer:Amy Heckerling, 1995)
KC: I’ve seen it once and it was better than I thought it would be. Rolls eyes…I suppose I should watch again.
ML: Love the new setting, costumes, fun of the dialogue. Don’t like that Cher is in high school and Josh is in college, ugh! They do get the playful dynamic between Cher and Josh. The movie is very funny!
2. Emma (movie with Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam, director and screenplay: Douglas McGrath, 1996)
ML: Playful relationship between Emma and Mr. K, well written and summarizes the novel well in 2 hours—hits all the subplots. The proposal under the oak tree is lovely. Gwyneth is too pouty at times, however. “Try not to kill my dogs” is a funny line and Jeremy Northam’s performance is perfect.
KC: My first Emma (although my hometown High School was filled with Emmas….Emmi?). I agree with the “Try not…” line! While I hate to use the word perfect….Jeremy Northam’s performance wow just wow.
3. Emma (TV series with Kate Beckinsale and Mark Strong, director: Diarmuid Lawrence and screenplay: Andrew Davies, 1996)
KC: Yes, Mark Toooooo Strong. Kate B’s Emma a bit too cool for me but Olivia Williams as Jane Fairfax! The harvest scene at the end is a nice touch…that’s not in the book.
ML: Kate B. is quite good, but I found Mark S. too angry. (I know this version the least).
4. Emma (TV mini-series with Romola Garai and Jonny Lee Miller, director: Jim O’Hanlon and screenplay: Sandy Welch, 2009)
ML: Extremely well-written and close to the book. Romola Garai and JLM are a great match. Michael Gambon is a great Mr. Woodhouse and we get a full sense of how challenging life with him is. The Jane F/Frank C subplot is fully developed.
KC: And Mrs. Weston and Emma joking about Jane Fairfax and Mr. K and the John Knightleys and Frank C that isn’t so foppish and this is my favorite Austen Adaption!
5. EMMA. (movie with Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn, director: Autumn de Wilde and screenplay: Eleanor Catton, 2020)
KC: A rewatch is needed but my rating declined from 3.5-3.75 just after seeing it to 2.75-3 a few days later.
ML: I think 2020 has great sets, costumes, and amazing shots but not the emotional connection for me that the others, especially 2009, have.
ML: (I like them all in some ways, but 2009 is head and shoulders above the others, the next three are close together and the last one is farther back) Emma 2009, Clueless, Emma 1996 movie, EMMA. 2020, and Emma 1996 tv
KC: Emma 2009…big gap Emma 1996 movie…small gap Emma 1996 tv…small gap…Clueless small gap EMMA. 2020. i.e. maybe 5….3.75…3.5…3….2.75 Frankly….the recent on-line Emma musical and Emma 1972 (sedate version of Emma) are more enjoyable to me than EMMA. 2020…at least without a re-watch of it. I’m not usually soooo critical….well sorta…. oh and there’s Emma Approved too.
Kirk’s Austenography: My first Austen experience that I remember was S&S 95 movie (my parents watched Masterpiece Theatre every week so it’s possible I could have seen the 1980 P&P (Robo-Darcy!)). I saw it three times in the movie theater. It was love at first sight for me and Marianne!!!!! 🙂 My favorite cousin purchased P&P ’95 and we cousins watched it at holiday gatherings. I saw ’96 Emma in a movie theater. Read those three, found other three Big Six novels, and read them. I then read what little fan fiction was out there, starting with The Third Sister (Margaret Dashwood). I joined several meetup.com groups in January 2010. One was an Austen group that had met three times in 2009 but was inactive. A week later a new person joined and said they had three of the books. So I asked which ones and on the site suggested that the group meet. Lol…the person who started the group then quit!! I and one of people who attended in 2009 volunteered to manage the group for a while (I had never attended a book club before). After a year, she wanted to read all Dickens all the time. NO WAY….and she quit co-leadership. In April 2011 we moved from meetup.com ($) to Facebook and renamed ourselves Austen in Boston (AiB). In Sept 2010 I attended my first JASNA-MA meeting (the great John Wiltshire was the speaker) and I was recruited to the JASNA-MA reading group.
Michele’s Austenography: I read P&P and saw 1980 BBC P&P when I was in high school (both probably 1981). I read the other novels at some point in my 20s, but didn’t become a major fan until re-reading them all in my 40s, when Emma became my favorite novel. I joined JASNA in 2009. One of my proudest accomplishments was presenting on “Mr. Knightley’s Development of Sympathy” at the 2016 Emma AGM in Washington DC and then having that published in Persuasions On-Line (http://jasna.org/publications/persuasions-online/vol37no1/larrow/). Following the AGM, I knew I wanted to form a JASNA region in my area and, with Amy Lyons, founded the JASNA Eastern Washington/Northern Idaho region in 2017.
I have been thinking about that passage in Mansfield Park after the ball when Edmund, Henry Crawford, and William Price have all left Mansfield Park. Fanny is alone in the great house with Sir Thomas and Aunt Bertram and Mary Crawford is at the parsonage with her sister and Dr. Grant:
The week which passed so quietly and peaceably at the great house in Mansfield had a very different character at the Parsonage. To the young lady, at least, in each family, it brought very different feelings. What was tranquillity and comfort to Fanny was tediousness and vexation to Mary. Something arose from difference of disposition and habit: one so easily satisfied, the other so unused to endure; but still more might be imputed to difference of circumstances. In some points of interest they were exactly opposed to each other. To Fanny’s mind, Edmund’s absence was really, in its cause and its tendency, a relief. To Mary it was every way painful. She felt the want of his society every day, almost every hour, and was too much in want of it to derive anything but irritation from considering the object for which he went. He could not have devised anything more likely to raise his consequence than this week’s absence, occurring as it did at the very time of her brother’s going away, of William Price’s going too, and completing the sort of general break-up of a party which had been so animated. She felt it keenly. They were now a miserable trio, confined within doors by a series of rain and snow, with nothing to do and no variety to hope for. Angry as she was with Edmund for adhering to his own notions, and acting on them in defiance of her (and she had been so angry that they had hardly parted friends at the ball), she could not help thinking of him continually when absent, dwelling on his merit and affection, and longing again for the almost daily meetings they lately had. His absence was unnecessarily long. He should not have planned such an absence—he should not have left home for a week, when her own departure from Mansfield was so near. Then she began to blame herself. She wished she had not spoken so warmly in their last conversation. She was afraid she had used some strong, some contemptuous expressions in speaking of the clergy, and that should not have been. It was ill-bred; it was wrong. She wished such words unsaid with all her heart.
Her vexation did not end with the week. All this was bad, but she had still more to feel when Friday came round again and brought no Edmund; when Saturday came and still no Edmund; and when, through the slight communication with the other family which Sunday produced, she learned that he had actually written home to defer his return, having promised to remain some days longer with his friend.
If she had felt impatience and regret before–if she had been sorry for what she said, and feared its too strong effect on him–she now felt and feared it all tenfold more. She had, moreover, to contend with one disagreeable emotion entirely new to her–jealousy. His friend Mr. Owen had sisters; he might find them attractive. But, at any rate, his staying away at a time when, according to all preceding plans, she was to remove to London, meant something that she could not bear. Had Henry returned, as he talked of doing, at the end of three or four days, she should now have been leaving Mansfield. It became absolutely necessary for her to get to Fanny and try to learn something more. She could not live any longer in such solitary wretchedness; and she made her way to the Park, through difficulties of walking which she had deemed unconquerable a week before, for the chance of hearing a little in addition, for the sake of at least hearing his name.
Mansfield Park, 1814, pp 285-287
It seems to me as we have been staying at home with physical distancing orders and being isolated from others, we all feel a little like Mary Crawford—missing happier times and wanting to connect to each other. Even getting outside for a walk feels wonderful now. Like Mary, I am willing to walk in windy, rainy, and snowy weather now just to get outside.
In coping with physical distancing, I have been thinking about Jane Austen’s messages of perseverance, fortitude in struggles, and having faith. I am trying to find ways to connect with others that do not involve physical contact. I have enjoyed the virtual events we have hosted on our Facebook page and just connecting with people on social media or through email. I have found solace and comfort in reading Jane Austen. I hope that eventually we will return to meeting in person. But for now, we will continue to meet on our Facebook page and through Zoom. I hope you will join us.