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Why I love Jane Austen, by Eva O’Flynn

Criticise her all you will, it’s nothing to me; Jane Austen is my dearest friend.  Warning: I write this post sipping tea from my ‘Pride and Prejudice‘ mug, staring proudly at my new merch (can’t do it justice; see picture.)

Goodies just arrived from the Jane Austen Centre giftshop...
Goodies just arrived from the Jane Austen Centre giftshop…

The woman is perfection. She is a witty, dry, perceptive, insanely intelligent goddess.

As a 17 year old myself, I can only marvel at her epistolary novel ‘Lady Susan‘, which she wrote at my age.

Austen and I first met in 2005, when I was 8 and she 230. This was the year of the infamous portrayal of Elizabeth by Keira Knightley. Forgive me Reader, for I have sinned; that film holds a special place in my heart. It’s extravagant, Hollywood and inaccurate, but it was the first time I met the characters; I remember my young grin as the footman announced ‘a Mrs Bennett, Miss Bennett, Miss Bennett and a- Miss Bennett.’ (Innaccurate, of course but amusing nevertheless.) I’m not stubborn enough that my view of each character remains loyal to the film’s portrayal, but I do believe that the film captures their essence pretty well.

Kiera Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen in 2005's Pride and Prejudice.
Kiera Knightley and Matthew MacFadyen in 2005’s Pride and Prejudice.

Later, in 2008 when ‘Sense and Sensibilty‘ arrived on the BBC, I fell in love with her plots all over again. I moved straight on to read ‘Pride and Prejudice‘. Admittedly, as an 11 year old still in primary school, much of the novel’s genius was lost on me. Nevertheless, I rooted for Darcy and Elizabeth, bickered with Lydia as if she were my own sister and detested Wickham (not to be confused with Willoughby!) with a burning passion. The confusion between names is something which continues to trouble me to this day: the more Austen you read, the more confusing it gets. Musgrove, for example, a name which features in both ‘The Watsons‘ and ‘Persuasion‘, for very different characters, had my opinions somewhat confused.

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