Friday, January 4, 2008

All Six Every Year

Anytime is a great time to read Jane Austen, however last year I thought I'd make a little schedule for myself, planning out the best time of the year to read Jane Austen. Each novel gets two months, and it doesn't take that long to read them so there's plenty of time remaining for Juvenilia, your JASNA newsletter, and the latest copy of 'Persuasions' that brightens the mailbox each July. Most of the novels incorporate a whole year at least, so this is highly subjective, but I will tell you what I think is the best time to read each book, and why.

Dec –Jan; Emma. The Christmas Party at the Weston’s comes to mind, along with Mr. John Knightly’s wry complaints, Mr. Woodlouse’s worries, and Mr. Elton’s desperate proposal. Emma is the perfect backdrop for holiday plans, planning a ball, and sending a charitable gift to the Mrs. Bates in your life.

Feb –Mar; Northanger Abbey. I’ve heard that winter is the season for Bath. I hope that’s right. I don’t know if Catherine Morland is the youngest of our heroines, but she definitely seems the most innocent and naïve, perfect for the start of a new year.

April –May; Mansfield Park. My first plan was to put Mansfield Park in July, as a birthday present to Fanny. Her personality seems so much like mine in many ways; I fancy that her sign must be Cancer, even though I don’t really believe in that type of thing. Then Sir Thomas mentioned in mid July that she had passed her birthday recently. Therefore I have given Fanny Price the honorary birthday of July 11th, (same as mine) and I will happily share it with such a sweet selfless woman.
However, Fanny was so disappointed to miss the progress of spring while exiled in Portsmouth, that I decided springtime would be the best time and place for my favorite of Jane Austen’s ladies.

June –July; Pride and Prejudice. Summer is the time for the big ticket novels. Perfect for a travel read, or poolside/beachside. Or pretending you are poolside/beachside. A little sea bathing would set me up nicely!

August-Sept; Sense and Sensibility. With this book you can enjoy the suns rays one moment, and be caught in an unexpected September shower the next. Then just when you think the warmth is gone for good, a little Indian summer comes along and all is beautiful again.

October-November; Persuasion. Once again I’m tempted by a birthday -we actually know Anne Elliot’s, it is August 9th-but I must put Persuasion in the fall. Anne and her story exemplify fall and the passage of time, the fading beauty, trading coolness for warmth. But like the fiery red leaves bursting into prominence, Anne experiences a ‘second bloom’, and another chance at what she had once lost.

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