When I think of Jane Austen and winter, I always think of Emma. The snow that occurs during the Christmas Eve party at the Westons is pivotal to the plot as a way to get Mr. Elton alone with Emma. It is also another example of how characters’ various responses to the same event reveal their personalities and whether they treat others with compassion or not. I like that once the snow has set in for several days, Mr. Knightley still trudges through the snow to Hartfield to spend time with family. There is so much humor in Mr. Woodhouse’s response to the snow:
“It was weather that might fairly confine everybody at home; . . . [I]t was very pleasant to have her father so well satisfied with his being all alone in his own house, too wise to stir out; and to hear him say to Mr. Knightley, whom no weather could keep entirely from them,–
’Ah! Mr. Knightley, why do you not stay at home like poor Mr. Elton?’” (138-9, Oxford Edition)
Of course, winter in the Pacific Northwest means snow, especially in February this year. We debated whether to reschedule our Spokane book discussion from 2/10 and ultimately decided to do so. We were glad we did, based on the road conditions that day. Both the Moscow Book Discussion on 2/17 at One World Cafe and the Spokane Book Discussion on 2/17 at Mary Ellen’s house were fun explorations of Northanger Abbey. The weather and roads were clear enough that members were able to travel from significant distances (in some cases) to attend. The group in Spokane enjoyed the treats everyone brought and the discussion so much that the meeting went over 3 hours, instead of the usual 2. Unfortunately for the Moscow meeting, many members were ill and not able to attend the meeting. We will try to reschedule something in warmer weather for those who missed. With a smaller group in Moscow, we discovered all sorts of connections, like that two of the three attendees had both gone to Michigan State (and had very strong reactions against Ohio State). It was nice to have time to get to know our fellow members more deeply.
In January we did a virtual movie night on our Facebook page for the movie “Love and Friendship”, Whit Stillman’s brilliant tribute to “Lady Susan”. We had participants from Idaho, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, and Washington. It was so much fun to interact with people from across the country and the comments were often hilarious. Since it was online, we did not have to worry about the weather.
One of the best parts about winter for me is making a cup of tea and snuggling under a blanket to read Jane Austen. I think reading when it is cold outside is especially enjoyable. In addition to re-reading Northanger Abbey for our book discussion, I have been re-reading Emma because it brings me such joy and is a way to de-stress for me. I also read all three of Pamela Aidan’s books in the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman series in preparation for our tea at the end of April (see our Events page for more information). I thoroughly enjoyed these books and am looking forward to hearing Pamela speak. She will have books for sale at the tea and will be autographing books, so I plan to stock up!
I hope that you all are surviving the snow, winter illnesses, and the cold. Most of all, enjoy some Jane Austen to brighten the days and warm your heart. Michele