Falling in Love the Jane Austen Way

My older girls are busy introducing their younger sisters to
the delights of Jane Austen.
“You must watch Persuasion,”
insists Imogen. “I’ll explain all the difficult bits,” she adds, as she notices
the uncertain look on nine year old Gemma-Rose’s face.
So we settle down on the sofa, the DVD is inserted into
the machine and soon we are immersed in a past world of gentle romance. An hour
and a half later, everyone sighs with satisfaction, even Gemma-Rose, who didn’t
need any help understanding the plot.
“We have to watch Pride and Prejudice next,” says
Charlotte, “the long version.”
So for the next week we follow Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy
along their up and down path to true love and happiness. As the credits roll
after the last episode, Charlotte sighs again and says, “That was so good!”
But I have a question for Charlotte. “Why do you like Jane
Austen so much when it’s all about love and romance? You usually hate romantic
movies.”
“Jane Austen is different. It’s not just about kissing.” She
rolls her eyes. “I hate watching all that over-the-top love stuff on screen.
All that kissing…”
“But kissing is good,” I protest. “It’s part of being in
love. You’ll find that out one day.”
“It’s not kissing and love that’s wrong,” says Charlotte
trying to explain.
“Love was different in Jane Austen’s day,” interrupts
Imogen. “There was an etiquette that everyone followed. There were rules. You
knew what to do and what to expect.”
“Yes,” agrees Charlotte. “Today, it seems when it comes to
love, anything goes. And I don’t want to see all that.” I think of all those
passionate on-screen declarations of love. I know what my third daughter means. Although we might like to experience all those swept away feelings, there’s more to love than wild embraces.
“It’s funny how Jane Austen wrote so much about love but
never got married,” I observe.
“She had a chance to get married,” Imogen tells me. “I think
she accepted a proposal and then changed her mind overnight.”
“Didn’t she decide not to get married because she wanted to keep her sister company, after her sister’s fiance died?” Charlotte asks.
The discussion about Jane Austen, her novels and love in
Regency times continued.
Imogen and Charlotte have read all Jane Austen’s novels many
times. Now that Sophie and Gemma-Rose have watched a few DVD productions, I’m
sure their older sisters will encourage them to read the books as well. Imogen
and Charlotte have also read many non-fiction books about Jane Austen’s novels.
Recently a friend told us about a new book my Jane Austen
girls might like. I headed over to Amazon to have a look. Unable to resist
buying an ebook version, I clicked a few times and then called out, “Turn on
your Kindles, girls! I’ve sent you a new book.”
A couple of minutes later the girls were looking at the
title: The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After. The author is Elizabeth Kantor and the Amazon description
begins like this:
Women today are
settling for less than we want when it comes to men, relationships, sex, and
marriage. But we don’t have to, argues Elizabeth Kantor. Jane Austen can show
us how to find the love we really want…

Not having read the book myself, I don’t know if it is
appropriate for fifteen year old Charlotte, who’s not exactly ready to
contemplate love and marriage. But that’s not a problem. Charlotte has already
decided she won’t dive straight into the book. Instead she will wait for Imogen’s review and possible recommendation.
I remember another Jane Austen conversation my children had
a few weeks ago:
“Imogen, if you were living in Jane Austen’s day, you’d
almost be an old maid.”
“You’d be getting worried about finding a
husband.”
“But I’m only 18. Anne Eliot was 27 when she got
married. And I’m not as old as Elizabeth Bennet when she married Darcy. She was
20.”
“We could offer a dowry for you,” says a mischievous brother. “Someone might be
tempted to take you.” 

Or Imogen could just read The Jane Austen Guide to Happily Ever After, and then arrange her “own
marriage by falling in love the Jane Austen way”.

That last quote comes from the Amazon book description. Now I am intrigued. What do those words mean exactly? I think I might just have to go and read the book and find out.

It’s Not a War of the Sexes: an Interview with Elizabeth Kantor at Nation Review Online

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Comments

  1. Reply

    It looks like an interesting book, Sue. I followed the link and the interview seemed quite practical. I remember reading that Elizabeth Bennett only agreed to marry Darcy when she saw the size of his house but I think that's a bit cynical – she probably made up her mind when she saw the size of the gate;-)

    God bless, Sue:-)

    1. Reply

      Vicky,

      You comment about the gate made me laugh. I remember that part of the story where Jane asks Elizabeth, "When did you change your mind about Darcy?" and Elizabeth then says it was when she saw the size of the house. Personally, I got the feeling the two sisters were just having a joke together and Elizabeth wasn't at all serious. Maybe the words weren't meant to be taken literally. What do you think? Oh yes! You've already given me your view: "she probably made up her mind when she saw the size of the gate;-)" Now I am laughing again!

  2. Reply

    I totally agree with Charlotte and Imogen. Although things seemed a bit over the top in the ways of formality and stuffiness (not to mention marrying for position and money!) I do wish there were more similarities with the way courtship was undertaken at that time to now. Does "courtship" actually exist anymore?! Actually, it brings to mind some American Christian families I've read about who insist on their children undertaking formal courtships and it seems very respectful and successful.

    1. Reply

      Kelly,

      Does courtship actually exist anymore?!… I am wondering if all the customs of my own teenage years have disappeared. I was laughing with some younger friends on Facebook a while ago about the language of dating. We used to have boyfriends and girlfriends and 'go out' with each other. Then we became engaged, and later married. Three distinct stages. These days people have 'partners' and are 'in relationships'. I think this is all rather confusing because the same words can be used for two people dating, for two people engaged to each other, and also for two people living with each other. Actually some people I know who are married still call their spouses by the title 'partner'. I hate that word!

      Did you ever read "My Heart Lies South" by Elizabeth Borton Trevino? She describes Mexican courtship which she became a part of when she moved from the US and met her future Mexican husband. She was always making mistakes because she wasn't familiar with the customs. It was a very funny story.

    2. Reply

      No, I haven't read that one 🙂
      I cringe every time I hear someone introduced as "my partner" – sometimes I feel like saying "oh, so you're in business together?"

    3. Reply

      Kelly,

      I cringe too! The book is good. There's a young people's version too. Very funny!

  3. Reply

    How cool I thought we'd study Jane Austen next term. My favourite P&P movie was the one with Greer Garson but only because I love her acting. Whilst P&P was my favourite book of Jane's, my favourite male was Mr Knightley of Emma. Mr Darcy was really a bit arrogant I thought. Oooh I can't wait to reread them all now.

    There is a movie called Becoming Jane. "It depicts the early life of English author Jane Austen and her perpetual love and regret with Thomas Langlois Lefroy". I haven't seen it but might be worth a look … then you can tell me if it's Ok for my girls … lol

    There's also the Jane Austen Book Club, a best selling book that was made into a movie. Apparently each of Austen's novels parallels the six people in the book clubs experiences with relationships and love. Might be nice for the older girls … hopefully it's as sweet as Jane's novels were as I haven't seen that yet either.

    1. Reply

      Lisa,

      I have to admit I haven't read all Jane Austen's novels. I have yet to meet Mr Knightley. I shall have to get a move on and start reading!

      When we were watching P&P the other day, we did remark how few words Mr Darcy spoke. He did a lot of arrogant looking down on everyone, before he started looking longingly at Elizabeth Bennet. I don't know if I would have liked him either.

      Ooh! I shall have to look out for "Becoming Jane". And "The Jane Austen Book Club". They sound good.

      I hope you and your girls enjoy your Jane Austen adventures next term!

  4. Reply

    My 14 yo daughter just read Pride and Prejudice, and it was a real joy to watch her reactions to the book. She was so shocked at Lydia's actions, and so appalled by the mother's reactions! I've read it so many times I don't have that (very proper) reaction anymore.

    Of course we had to watch the "long" movie then. It is so beautifully done!

    I will say that the courtship thing (at least as envisioned by American Protestants) has serious drawbacks. The Queen of Carrots grew up with that ideal and she and her husband followed that path, but she does not wish it for her own children. She made several thoughtful posts about it some time ago on her blog, The Duchy of Burgandy Carrots. I'm sorry I don't know how to put up a link, but I'm sure you can Google it.

    1. Reply

      Wendy,

      I have always wondered why Lydia turned out so differently to Elizabeth and Jane. Maybe her personality matches that of her mother. The sisters show very marked differences in their behaviour. After we watched P&P the other day, my girls remarked how glad they are that I'm nothing like Mrs Bennet. Can you imagine having such a mother? I'm glad my daughters are nothing like Lydia! There is always so much to discuss with Jane Austen!

      I haven't heard about the American Protestants courtship. I guess courtship can mean different things to different people. I am not sure that courtship which is designed to give parents control over their children is right. But maybe courtship that works in favour of the young people might be acceptable? Perhaps they would welcome moving through various stages and rituals at their own pace? Just musing. It's an interesting topic!

      The Queen of Carrots? What an intriguing name. I will have to Google her blog!

    2. Reply

      We were curious about Lydia, too. Our thoughts were that Mr. Bennet took an active hand in Jane and Elizabeth's formation, and then gradually faded out of trying to form his younger daughters. When Mr. Bennet criticizes his younger daughters as being "the silliest girls in England," Kitty the second youngest is bothered by, but Lydia is not. Lydia, the youngest, is almost entirely formed by her mother.

    3. Reply

      Wendy,

      Yes, I agree! We love discussing books and characters and learning from them. It's funny how fictional characters become very real to us. We all thought the role of Lydia would have been great fun to play, but Lydia would have been insufferable in real life!

  5. Reply

    Have you and the girls watched BBC's Lost in Austen?

    1. Reply

      Rebecca,

      We haven't seen "Lost in Austen". I didn't even know about it until I read your comment. Something else we now want to see! Thank you so much!

    2. Reply

      Lisa,

      I am so excited! I just bookmarked this link and I might be uncontactable for hours too. Thank you so much!

    3. Reply

      Ooh thanks for the reminder of this. It played on TV and I only caught the last episode or two. I just found the series on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uz-9gmfXjTI … I may be uncontactable for a few hours. 😉

  6. Reply

    Sue,

    I love this post! Jane Austen does seem to write about romance in a much more wholesome way. I do agree with Charlotte! I love reading your blog. I think all your daughters are beautiful!

    God Bless.
    -Gemma

    1. Reply

      Hi Gemma,

      I see you got a Google account! It's lovely to see your comment. It's also great to find out you're a Jane Austen fan too. Her novels are such delightful reading. I wonder which of the novels is your favourite. Thank you for your kind words, and thank you for reading my blog. I hope you'll stop by and say hello again soon.

  7. Reply

    Sue,

    Yes I do love Jane Austen! She is a wonderful author.
    I think my favorite book of hers is Pride and Prejudice.
    Thank you very much for appreciating my comment!

    God Bless,
    -Gemma

    1. Reply

      Gemma,

      Oh yes, I'm sure most people would agree that Pride and Prejudice is the best Jane Austen novel. I think I'm going to read Sense and Sensibility next. God bless!

  8. Reply

    Sue,

    I was just reading what you had said to Wendy about Mrs. Bennett. I must say Mrs. Bennett was one of the most hysterical mothers I have ever seen!
    There was one scene in the BBC episodes were Mrs. Bennett was greeting some guests
    and they asked her how she was. Her reply was, "Dreadfully ill, you see nobody knows how I suffer with my poor nerves. But of course I never complain."
    My 18 year old brother and I laughed at that. She was awfully good complainer if I ever saw one!

    God Bless,
    -Gemma

    1. Reply

      Gemma,

      I laughed at Mrs Bennet's words too! It's funny how people who habitually complain never realise what they are doing. You've got a great brother. Not all boys would want to share a Jane Austen movie with a sister!

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