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Regency Ramblings and Regrets

August 11, 2011

As part of my being (appreciatively!) invited to share a spot in Meredith Esparza’s ‘Austenesque Extravaganza’ (throughout August event), I felt inclined to ramble a little around Jane Austen’s works (and times) and why I love them so. You are also cordially invited to comment here with your own thoughts or feelings about our own dearest, loveliest Jane, her mind’s meanderings, the wholesome world she lived in and focused on; and, or perhaps more especially the characters, loves, situations and relationships that she wrote about. (Remember, every comment here also counts as an entry for the ‘Amazing Austenesque Giveaway’! Check Austenesque Reviews, as per the link in my last post below, for more information and to sign up for the contest – if you haven’t already done so.)

Am I a regency woman? Well, generally yes, though I’m not entirely certain if I am wholly so. I do love many aspects of regency society and I enjoy some of the styles (even empire/princess waistlines at times!), although I think maybe I’m more a Victorian mores and design details girl (I’ve long been weak for late and high Victorian almost anything, and especially the richly detailed houses with their lacey interiors and ornately carved furnishings!). Since my long-ago tomboyish tweenhood, I’ve been completely romantic about the eighteen hundreds (Regency through Victorian), long-since thoroughly romantic about the somewhat wild American west for many years of my cowgirl leaning life. My tastes then grew towards a more Victoriana Americana shabby chic affinity (picture a diamond-tufted crimson velvet chaise lounge and delicately detailed lace curtains, up against the backdrop of a rustic golden log cabin interior complete with a hefty fieldstone fireplace; and you may feel the sense of the ambiance of which I’ve often dreamt). Though, in recent years, for more than a decade and a half, in fact, Jane Austen has expanded my vintage loves to include a grand dose of jolly old middle Englishness (call me also an English Manor girl now, not to mention that a cottage is always very snug!), and has got me always turning fondly towards my greater British Isles heritage, with Royals and gentility plus not so nobility included. With or without money (United Kingdom pounds or pence!), there is plenty of simply charming. The English countryside of old, doth call to me! Do you wish we all were a little more regency nowadays? I truly do. Wouldn’t you just love a short bridge over the pond, and a way to back in time in many ways as well? (and for those of you beautiful Brits luckily of England and the greater United Kingdom, I wave my Union Jack to you in solidarity!)

Are you regency leaning?

Am I a Janeite? I do tend to believe so, but it all depends on your interpretation of that word. Most of us nowadays who fully enjoy Jane Austen’s world, would likely explain the Janeite term as anyone who truly appreciates all things Austen; whereas others (unromantic types we Janeites couldn’t possibly relate to!) might use that Janeite label as a sort of supposed crushing insult that intentionally suggests an obsessive cultish silliness (No really, I’ve occasionally been ridiculed and even laughed at for being such an Austenaholic! Do you at all relate?). I understand that the word ‘Janeite’ was first coined in the very late eighteen hundreds (first seen in text in the 1890s I seem to recall – not that I was technically around quite way back then!) and its original meaning was more of an elitist literati usage: self-anointed by highly educated snobs who believed that only they could fully understand Jane Austen’s writings (script that only literary leaders should read because only they can comprehend it properly? Whatever that means!), as opposed to the simpleminded masses who can only like Austen prose on their own lowly superficial levels. And so, we shock at the original intent of ‘Janeite’! Can you comprehend that?! The word ‘Janeite’ has apparently also (sometime since 1900 – I‘m not sure when this other meaning began – I’m currently too tired to dig for that accurate date!) been used by the unAusten masses as a mocking or negative label aimed against Austen aficionados. And thus a newer meaning of ‘Janeite’! I object! Nonetheless, for those of us who revere Miss Austen and her works with an adoring romantic passion (whether we see ourselves as Austenian purists or not), the Janeite term seems a badge of honor we envision as befitting ourselves. Yes, this is the best usage of the word ‘Janeite’. The other two denotations (snob or slob!) surely must be forgot! I should say so!

Are you a Janeite? How would you prefer to interpret the term? Is there any other label that suits you better?

Am I a regency style romantic? You bet your sweet Pemberley I am! Call me a Regency Romantic, an Austenophile (or Austenphile), an Austen aficionado, an Austenian semi-purist, an Austenite, a Janeite, or simply an ardent admirer of the darling genius Jane Austen. I will never take any such label as an insult, even if it ever were thrown as one. I shall embrace and revel in Austendom! Even proudly so! Do I fit into any one or even all of those labels? You bet our dear Longbourn I do! I am inextricably linked and inclined towards all things truly Austen – from all her writings (that are still in existence), to most movies that have aspired to measure up to her works… to the wit in her wordings, her delicious sarcasm in so many sentences, to the dances and dialogue, the selfishness and silliness, the clarity of her characterizations, to the squeaky clean and heart-warmingly entertaining fun… to the teatimes, teapots and teacups… to the eye-candy style in the movies and the word-candy chic in her novels. In short, give me Jane Austen style regency romance food any day of the week! Austen-stuff is major medicine. Like the best vitamins. Yes, Jane Austen’s literary gifts to us nourish our minds and hearts… and our lungs too. Just breathe it all in! It is quite actually like oxygen to me! What of you? Am I an Austenaholic? Most probably! Am I passionately romantic about Austen romance novels? Most assuredly!

Are you a regency style romantic?

Did our amazing Austen create the regency style romance novel? I would say so. How would I define that? I might be wrong (because I’m no papered literary scholar, so what do I know about the finer points of these higher things?!), but, beyond simply a romance, set in the English Regency period of time, I see Jane Austen novels as rich with varied facets, heights and depths of feelings; with multiple levels of telling the story and sharing who the characters truly are. There are layers upon layers of discovery. To read an Austen novel once is not to have read it enough. You have just scratched the surface: you have barely tasted from its full flavor. Like all classically great literature, to fully appreciate why something became a classic over time, I would say that you must read each work more than once, and I would further claim, perhaps twice or thrice and maybe many multiple times. Thusly, you will find the hidden treasures within the greater gold that glitters on the surface. There is more to a gourmet cake than the pretty initial icing you taste at the outset of sampling it at first bite. There are far more flavors to find beneath. Even amid all the eternal verities that are woven into Austen’s stories, she always handled whatever challenging situations the hero or heroine faced with humorous panache, and dealt justly with the villains – using bitingly sarcastic wit for their punishment. What I love most about Miss Jane’s not plain romances, is that they are so much more than simply romances. There is depth, breadth and such imaginative scope with peripheral characters and situations that go far beyond the simple boy meets girl and then girl gets boy. Instead of a single story thread or even a few, there is an elaborate woven tapestry to munchingly enjoy. As a type of illustration of just one example: since I first met and knew the ‘Sense and Sensibility’ Dashwoods (from Norland to Barton, London and beyond), I absolutely hated upstart in-law (SIL) Fanny, was disgusted with the brother John, felt sympathizing empathy with the widowed older Mrs. Dashwood, revered dear Brandon, was keenly disappointed in dashing Willoughby, laughed at benevolent busybody Mrs. Jennings even while still quite liking her, laughed at verbosely silly Charlotte but had more difficulty liking her, and so forth do those periphery details go. I adore the entire tapestry picture, not just the main subject themes. I thoroughly enjoy Miss Austen’s supporting characters. Not that I don’t adore the main romantic thread: the couple or couples that get together in marriage at the end of the novel! Oh my, I just love those happy endings! It’s just that all which surrounds the main storyline is what gives Jane Austen’s novels the richness that often lacks elsewhere, at least for me. Maybe I need more than a simple romance meal. I want all the rest of the buffet of a banquet going on! In a nutshell, what I just attempted to share in this paragraph’s meanderings, is my general idea of a regency romance, Austen style.

Would you say that Jane Austen defined the regency romance novel? Do you think that all succeeding romance stories seem to flow out of Jane Austen’s novel beginnings?

Why does Jane Austen speak to me so completely and intimately? In many ways and for multiple reasons, Jane Austen speaks akin to my heart and mind. If you appreciate Austen as I do, you will sense with me as I say that I feel like she knows me, and I know her. She knew some people, like some I’ve known. She saw their strengths and failings. She understood human relationships. No, she did not know life in a marriage first hand, but she knew courtship (and does not a good marriage always include courtship?!). All we who love Austen’s works, love them for similar and perhaps differing reasons. When I first began to discover Jane Austen, through ‘Sense and Sensibility’ the 1995 movie (thank you Emma Thompson and your interpretations of ‘Sense and Sensibility’!) and then Austen’s original novel of the same name, I was delightedly intrigued by many wonderful surprises beyond any expected (or surprise) romance elements. Once I knew ‘Sense’ quite well (having read it through many times), I searched out every Austen novel, movie and even early writings and her letters to her sister, because I craved genius Jane’s sense, sensibilities and style. I hung on her every word. Can you imagine her ever truly picturing so many people hungering after all her writings more than a couple of hundred years later on?! I dare say she would have been incredulously overwhelmed (all amazement!) to comprehend how she and her words have become so supremely beloved, at least the English speaking or reading world over! Miss Austen seems to speak to each of us directly. It has often felt like my dearest Jane was writing just to me. Pray, forgive me as I somewhat repeat myself, but; more than simply the romance threads with heroes and heroines falling in or out of loves, I quickly adored those further-reaching elements that explored relationships beyond just between men and women, but also sharing mother-daughter, sisterhood, neighbor and friendship details too. I laughed at if not learned from especially periphery characters. I was reminded of truths of human nature. I rode literary rides with Jane Austen as she poked fun at the follies we each might be tempted to fall into. Yes, I would say that Jane Austen’s writings speak to many of us quite completely and with an amazing intimacy.

How does Jane Austen speak to you?

What do I love about Austen style? Jane Austen’s novels are literary comfort food to me. She has a supremely comfortable and inviting style that thoroughly entertains. Beyond her reminders that people have always been people – with her particular wit and sarcasm sharing old familiar follies, frailties, feelings, hopes, fears, and so forth; one thing I love about Jane Austen’s writings are the wholesome morals and endearing manners of those early years in the eighteen hundreds. I love the decorum of the times and at least a semblance to that kind of civility and society. I can’t say I’d be keen on corsets or any other discomforts relating to Regency or Victorian fashion trends and living (ooh, but I just adore indoor plumbing with hot running water!), but I certainly do love to romanticize about their society. I love to fantasize about living back then. Of course I focus on the kinds of things that Jane Austen focused on for and with us. I adore the way Jane Austen gets me thinking. Her works inspire me. Besides or maybe more relating to the fact that her characters and plotlines have inspired some of my own novels, she always gets me wondering ‘what ifs’. I would say that is a key reason there are so many ‘fan writer’ sequels, spinoffs, and inspired-bys. And perhaps that is one reason so many fans of Miss Austen are open to Austenesque attempts to recreate more of what she didn’t write (or what some might think she didn’t have time on Earth to get to writing). We all crave more of the same, or at least similar! Many want Jane Austen’s ‘children’ to go on living and loving. Beyond the ‘what ifs’ and ideas that have spurred on some of my own novel ideas (already done and out, plus still simmering), I find myself not only asking such as, ‘what if Elizabeth had said or done this instead’, but I have asked myself fateful questions like, ‘If the Dashwood mother and sisters had not been muscled out as cast offs by the step and half brother John and his pernicious wife Fanny, and so were then invited to go live at Barton, would Marianne ever have met wily Willoughby or constant Colonel Brandon? Would Elinor have met Edward Ferrars? Would there have been such a glorious story with its happy ending without the villain Fanny to set things off first?’. But first, I had asked myself thusly, ‘Why cannot the Dashwood mother and sisters simply stay living at Norland? John and Fanny already have a house in London. They will hardly live at Norland at all. Why cannot they simply share?’ You see, the questions seem to me to be endless. Every time I read an Austen novel or watch a movie interpretation, I find myself asking more questions. These are some of the things I adore about Austen and her works. She continues to keep me interested. And, I dare say, she has kept a good portion of the world interested for more than two hundred years. Does this not prove that she is well deserving of a great deal of our admiration and affection? I should say so!

What do you love about Austen style?

Why do I have such a romantic affinity for the eighteen hundreds? I grew up wishing I lived back in those golden olden days. I think it all began on my Grandparent’s farm: the Bennett Ranch, to be more precise. Not far from the hidden treasure of Waterton, the Canadian National Park in southern Alberta (basically the northern side of Glacier National Park in Montana), ‘the farm’ as we all called it, was where many of us Bennett cousins preferred to spend a chunk of our summer vacations. Who needed Disneyland (no offense to Disneyland intended!) when you could run wild on all that land, swim in one of the ponds and ride horses to boot? What a hoot! Yes, I was thrown onto the back of a horse from a very early age, and then there were the open ranges to run on. There were old buggies and pieces of antique farm equipment in a field behind the farmhouse, like a heritage park of sorts, and our imaginations ran wild as we pretended to be farmers and ranchers in the rustic pioneer days. The gigantic haystack was our fort or our castle. Our imaginations decided, and were our only limits. The Hutterite Colony (somewhat related to Amish communities) over one slightly distant hill was like stepping back in time when my Grandpa Bennett took me there. Yes, those happy childhood times on the Bennett Ranch rooted my mind into days long gone by. As I grew older, my heart still yearned backwards towards the good old days. I often said I was born a hundred years too late. I craved by-gone days (Once again, don’t get me wrong, I do love modern conveniences, all the more especially as the years roll by!). I know that I am sentimentally inclined and likely quite unrealistic as well, but it always seemed to me that the eighteen hundreds were kinder, gentler, simpler times; when men were gentle and women were ladies, at least many certainly were. Well, I like to think so.

Do you feel romantic about the good old days of regency through Victorian times?

What are my relative regrets? That Jane Austen can’t come back to live amongst us now, to write more for us; that she died too young, without finishing her every work entirely; that she could not have written more novels (that I’m certain she must have had simmering on back burners in her mind); and that she did not meet and marry a near-perfect hero of a man worthy of her genius, sense and sensibilities. Yes, she lived too short, she wrote too little and after writing so many happy endings for us each and all, she never received her own well-deserved happy ending and marriage to a man worthy of her. While I see this as tragic, I can still imagine her giving me a witty rejoinder that would comfort us both on at least some level. Her sarcasm proved to me that she could see others quite clearly and her wit showed me that she had a jolly wonderful sense of humor. She could laugh at herself as well as others. I continue hungry for more literature like hers! (And this is why I read her works over and over again!) My only real regret relative to Jane Austen’s works is that I stumbled onto them decades later than I believe I should or could have. Why was I never introduced to the works of genius Jane, throughout my childhood or schooling? And in British Commonwealth Canada no less! That more than seems a tragedy to me! I dare not say how old I was when I finally discovered the female novelist who made me want to take breaks from my standard non-fiction fare and to truly read fiction once more. In my twenties, I had gradually decided that fiction was for kids and teens, and I had strictly stuck to non-fiction for quite some time. Indeed, it was years. Dare I say that it had been almost a couple of decades since I had turned my back on fiction? It was Miss Jane Austen who finally sold me on stories again. At least I was certainly sold on stories like hers! And I have no regrets about that. Jane Austen got me reading ‘parables’ once more, and then I turned to Bronte, Gaskell, Dickens and many more classics as well. Thank you, most amazing Jane.

Do you have any regrets about our dear Jane Austen?

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32 Comments leave one →
  1. Amanda Mauldin permalink
    August 11, 2011 12:11 pm

    There is definitely a wealth of information here, and so many questions.
    Am I regency leaning? I am. I enjoy the regency period very much. It seemed a time of enjoyment, the Victorian era less so, but this is possibly due to the novels of that time influencing my mind adversely. They were more darkly driven than when Austen wrote.
    I would consider myself a Janeite. I wouldn’t know how else to describe my love of all things Austen, and so choose to think of the term positively.
    It’s possible that I’m a regency style romantic. I don’t necessarily daydream in regency, but I have imagined all sorts of parleying in a regency manner with different beau in my time.
    I don’t think Jane Austen really wrote romance novels. I mean, yes, there’s a good love story there with a happy ending and all, but her novels have more to do with than just that. So I wouldn’t agree with some when they say Austen novels were the first chick-lit. Men enjoy these novels too, and there’s a reason. It’s not all a love story.
    Jane gives me a lot of insight and good common sense through her novels. She knew people and her observations show through. Human character hasn’t changed that much since her time, so some of the revelations of character and reasons she gives for one acting a certain way make sense now too. That’s why we can say “He’s my Darcy,” or “Brandon,” or “There’s a Willoughby for you.” “It’s Wickham in the flesh.”
    Jane’s novels make sense, and have enough depth to give you new ideas or understanding every time you read them.
    I don’t personally have a particular regret about Jane Austen (of course, we all wish she’d written more, but I don’t really consider that a regret), but I do sometimes wonder whether she had any in her own life. Something she never told anyone, or something we don’t know about today through her letters or family history.

    • August 11, 2011 8:20 pm

      Thanks, Amanda! Exactly: Jane Austen painted a picture (with words!) of such a lovely time, for the most part (except for the manipulating and unkind people, for example!), while, I can think of some of the best known Bronte sisters’ works (‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’) suggesting a more melodramatic and darker time. Maybe this reflects the authors lives somewhat. Jane Austen may have had a more comparably easy time of it in her life than the Bronte sisters, overall anyway. Anne Bronte’s ‘The Tenant of Wildfell Hall’ (another one of my tippy top favorites) was also darker in its way, dealing with a cheating and somewhat abusive (at least psychologically and verbally) husband. Still, like in ‘Jane Eyre’ there is a happy ending – generally a must have for me! Some of the other Bronte works, such as Charlotte’s ‘Villette’ and Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’, could be considered less ‘dark’, though not as light as Austen works. Perhaps the Industrial Revolution played another part in the differing tones of Austen novels versus Bronte and even Elizabeth Gaskell works. Making a living, even for a noble gentleman, became not only respectable but also somewhat expected, and factories were putting some dark smoke into the air in many places. Even still, ‘Wives and Daughters’ is quite light and fun (and maybe the most comparable to an Austen work), but ‘North and South’ does have it’s darker moments, especially with ‘near and dear’ deaths and the clashes relative to ‘masters and union workers’. ‘Cranford’ gives us insight into wanting to resist the changes that the industrial age brought.

      Oh yes, I entirely agree with you that Jane Austen’s novels aren’t really ‘romance novels’ as we’ve come to perceive them – the little ‘Romance novels’ that my Mom and her friends introduced me to when I was twelve – I saw through the formula right away and I lost interest entirely by the third book, but, around the same time, I saw the ‘Jane Eyre’ movie with Orson Welles and Joan Fontaine – now that hooked and sunk me completely! That story stuck in my mind as a favorite for years, and then all the more so when I finally read it (over and over again!). I know that many people see Austen works as ‘romances’ because they are most focused on the romance elements. From the beginning, when I first met Austen through ‘Sense and Sensibility’, I saw much more a story of relationships and how situations put relationships to certain tests. I saw more the mother/daughter and sister relationships as well as the trials of particular in-laws, and the way a distant cousin and strangers who become friends can be there for you more than a closer family member who should have. Yes, I too know men who love Austen novels and movies. (I know more men who enjoy Gaskell, though, particularly ‘N&S’ and ‘Cranford’.)

      I think the thing that struck me most about Jane Austen initially was her sharp sarcasm. I love her delightful wit, and especially when she is laughing at and with human frailties. I kept thinking, ‘I know people just like that!’ And most especially, ‘I’ve known women exactly like that!’ In particular, I loved that a woman from as far back as two hundred years ago was pointing out annoying but amusing facts about women that I had noticed for years. The gossiping, the hypocrisy, the nagging and other things I’d faced at school, work, in the neighborhood, socially, and so on. Guess what, there are all kinds of people and just like us, Jane Austen knew some too! People have always been basically the same – at least going back a couple hundred years, and at least in England. Precisely, we can recognize types. The ‘Darcy’, ‘Bingley’, ‘Brandon’, ‘Willoughby’ or ‘Edward’ types, as well as the ‘Elizabeth’, ‘Jane’, Lydia’, ‘Marianne’, ‘Elinor’, ‘Fanny’, and ‘Mrs. Jennings’ types too! Agatha Christie at least once said (I think it was through her ‘Miss Marple’ character) that ‘even in an English village, you will meet all the types of people, and so, once you know them, you begin to recognize those types elsewhere – so you basically know who they are and how they will act in different situations’. Jane Austen was a keen observer of human characteristics. I suppose all good writers must be.

  2. Joanna Yeoh permalink
    August 11, 2011 1:15 pm

    I have similar likings. I love the empire-waist dresses of the Regency era and those sweet, feminine, lacy lampshades of the Victorian era. I have also grown to love English country cottage decor courtesy of my last trip to England.

    I like the original meaning of a Janeite; it makes me feel elitist though I am not so intellectual as those snobs 😛 I fit the third category of meaning, really. I love everything to do with JA. Ironically, I developed this love only after my Lit degree. When I studied her novels during my degree years, I disliked her as I felt her observations were too verbose.

    I am definitely an Austenaholic. I love the sequels and variations that have sprouted based on her novels. My favourite work of hers is P&P. I am crazy about the romance between the Darcys.

    Indeed, upon perusing a book more than once, I gain new insights into its plot which I didn’t get the first time round. Oh yes, I love the supporting characters and do wonder what happened to them or if things could have turned out differently for them, when the ending is basically about the main characters. What if for instance, Charlotte and Mr Collins end up falling in love during their marriage, instead of the marriage of convenience we know? Perhaps a novel could be based on that, the way novels are based on the Darcys’ marriage. I am a sucker for happy endings. When I write essay samples for my students as a private tutor, they usually have happy endings. 🙂

    I adore reading about the other relationships her characters have with one another. An example is the sisterly relationships between Mary and her individual sisters in A Match For Mary Bennet. I do like the formal and proper language used in the conversations in Austen’s novels. I enjoy the lifestyle and manners of that era. The romances then were also chaste and sweet 🙂 I have a fantasy that I would be like Courtney Stone in Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict or Amanda Price in Lost In Austen, waking up in that era. If I could chose the time period to be born in, I would certainly chose the Regency/Victorian eras. Men were gentlemanly then, in manners and character. Well, most were. It is so difficult nowadays to find such men. To be able to find one is a gift to be cherished.

    It was actually the P&P 1995 movie version that caused me to become an Austenholic. 🙂
    As I type these comments, I am reminded of an instrumental piece of music which I feel, aptly personifies the romance of the Regency era. Here is the link to the Youtube video:

    • August 11, 2011 9:17 pm

      Thanks, Joanna! I appreciate the look of empire waistlines as well as the basic Victorian silhouettes (not necessarily the most outrageous ones – with the twelve inch waistlines!), though there aren’t many corsets I would sign up for these days! When I was much younger, maybe from time to time, but not now! Comfort is the key for me nowadays! And yes, I adore so many things Victorian and back. A cottage or a castle would do quite nicely. Let’s just say, I love a ton of details from 1900 and backwards! Yup, I seem to be stuck in the 1800s!

      Well, I do agree with you that those of us who feel that we are true Janeites could certainly seem to fit a description somewhat of literate elites, at least in that regency reading realm, but since I don’t have a Doctorate in Austen (that I like to think I might go for if I was to do some of my life over again – give me a time machine, and I could erase one regret – that I didn’t become an ‘Austen scholar’ decades sooner!), I’m not up there in brain strengths enough to rub shoulders with the true literature snobs – whomever they may be these days. I think there are so many of us Janeites now, who know Jane Austen and her writings so well, that no literati could hold us down anyhow!

      It’s interesting what we grow to appreciate as time goes on – that which we didn’t fully enjoy on first perusal. Acquired tastes? Maybe. On closer inspection? More likely. Maturity plays a part? Perhaps. One thing for sure – if something is required reading, we’re less likely to love it. If we happen to come across something and taste of it freely of our own accord, we will give it a fair and fighting chance. And then there is the ‘peeling back the layers’ motif that comes to mind. The more you look at something, the more you begin to see it. The deeper you dig, the more you understand. The more you sample something, the more you come to know all the notes and tastes therein. A simple story or parable is less simple and becomes more complex the more you come to know all its nuances. My first introduction to Austen through ‘Sense’ was enjoyable, but over time, time after time, that story and its characters became indelibly etched on my mind and melded deep into my heart, almost as if I had lived through the experiences with those people myself. Much more than a fly on the wall – one of the circle. Of course, for me, I could sense and see similarities in my life – just one example, I knew a ‘Fanny’ type who was not making my then current challenges any easier – far more difficult, in fact. I also knew a ‘Lucy Steele’ type who was adding some misery too. And, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told my daughters I’m going to find them a ‘Brandon’ and then they tell me they would each prefer either ‘Knightly’!

      Like you (and likely many of us), I do find myself wondering and imagining other story-lines that could happen to all the characters, and maybe even more especially the ‘secondary’ characters. Yes, I like to imagine Charlotte bringing out far better in her husband, Mr. Collins, rather than suffering in the convenience of hiding in her rooms or behind their eventual children. He’s definitely a ‘fixer upper’ who needs a good deal of work, but, she is sensible enough to help him become less, well, weird. Yes, please give me happy endings. There can be unhappy beginnings and middles, but the ending must happily satisfy. Otherwise, I rewrite the ending in my mind – I always have done that. I couldn’t help it!

      Oh yes, the sisterly stuff is especially favorite to me. And the ‘simpler life’ and happier manners are so lovely and sometimes too much missing in our own day. I definitely am right with you on the sweet, chaste and wholesome courtships. That which is saved and savored seems more special. Well, I’m pretty ‘old-fashioned’ in my way, and always have been. I was always looking back to the mores and morals of ‘the olden days’… first, more the old west, and then later, jolly old England. I think and hope there are still men and women who hold to the old tried and true standards. They just have to find each other! And matchmaker types (like some other moms like me I know!) are keen to help them!

      That is wonderful that you are a private (English?) tutor! Viva la wonderful mentors! Thanks for that link to that lovely music. I adore instrumental uplifting music, and piano is my favorite (maybe because I began playing piano at about five years old) – I have a ton of piano instrumental albums. I tend to play piano music the most. Come to think of it, the Movie Soundtrack I play much of the time – to keep me calm while out driving – is the most recent ‘Pride and Prejudice’ one with all the wonderful piano music.

      P.S. I tried to moderate your other added comment and it didn’t work for some reason – and I can’t’ figure it out – so I will just paste it in here:
      “I was thinking of a piece of music as I read this entry. I have posted the link to it in my comments on your latest entry Regency Ramblings and Regrets.”

  3. Felicia permalink
    August 11, 2011 1:59 pm

    No regrets here! Because of our dear Jane, I have made new and life long friendships and continue to learn new things all the time.

    • August 11, 2011 10:43 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Felicia! Yes, when we find like-minded people, we have found true friends! And when we talk about something we love, we learn other perspectives. Talking Austen together is a bonding thing!

  4. Susan Kaye permalink
    August 11, 2011 2:33 pm

    It always amazes me that Austen appeals to so many in so many different ways. Thank you for sharing how she “brought you back,” Kerri.

    • August 11, 2011 10:44 pm

      Thanks, Susan! Yes, there might be as many ways to appreciate Austen works as there are Jane admirers! Oh, yes, Jane brought me back to fiction and showed me how stories can share truths as much as, and actually often more effectively than non-fiction can – even for ‘grown ups’. She also took me back earlier in the 1800s than I already loved to go, and over to England as well. She made me appreciate my English heritage more than I ever had before, too.

  5. August 11, 2011 7:16 pm

    A lovely post, Kerri! Thank you! I love learning about how people find Jane Austen, what she means to them, and how “knowing” her affects their lives!

    I love the world Jane Austen introduced to me. I talk all the time about how I would love to live in the 1800s and that I would be perfectly content to live without TVs, cars, air condition, etc. It would be totally worth it, in my opinion!

    Thank you so much for being a part of Austenesque Extravaganza!

    • August 11, 2011 10:50 pm

      Thank you so much for inviting me to your grand event, Meredith! It is always great fun to get talking with other people (usually women) about when/how/what/why they love Austen stories and characters! I often make very dear friends very quickly once we realize we both adore Austen writings and movies too (and other 1800s era stories and stuff). We start finishing each others’ sentences instantly! Instant sisters, in the Austen sisterhood so to speak!

      Oh, yes, I’ve always been so romantic about the 1800s and always said I would give up some (or even all!) modern conveniences to get the ideal details of golden days of yore. A simpler and sweeter time it seems. Better still (‘at my age’, as they say), I’d like to keep a few conveniences, but, I’ve always tended towards using some ‘higher tech’ things, like TV, in smaller doses. When my kids were young, I either didn’t care to have a TV, or it was behind a door or a curtain (out of sight, out of mind) so the kids would think to play the old fashioned way. I also was always inclined to give my children imagination driven toys rather than battery operated. We did things quite ‘back in the day’ in many ways. My kids didn’t even know about Saturday morning cartoons until cousins and friends finally told them, and I still held out and said, ‘sorry, but no’. I always wanted my farm to raise the kids on (so I could pretend we were back in time). Maybe I’ll get one for my grand-kids one of these days! Currently, our TV and movies are in an out of the way ‘Theater room’, so, it’s a special occasion to go there, instead of letting it rule and run our lives.

      Thanks again for (finding my ‘Sensing’ novel! and) thinking of me, Meredith!

  6. August 11, 2011 9:56 pm

    Lovely post–I loved how you got really in-depth. I love Austen, both just for fun, but also on a more critical level. After analyzing her novels and writing numerous papers about various novels for college, it really helped me appreciate her skill more. And yes, it did get me hooked on the regency period!!

    • August 11, 2011 11:02 pm

      Thanks, Araminta18! I had all these ‘too many’ ideas and I tried to pair them down, but at the end of it I thought I should preemptively apologize for it ending up being so terribly long! There are a ton of good old classics out there, and well-crafted plot-lines etcetera plus multi-faceted characters, but I think one thing I love about Jane Austen’s relatively little world of writings, is that you seem to truly find her and people she knew there in her novels. Her stories and people seem real, because she really drew from her reality. She wrote what she knew and cared about, and so we come to more truly know her in that way. Jane Austen writes on quite a personal level. Maybe she doesn’t pour out her heart like others might, but I think that you can easily sense her heart through her characters and the situations that she puts them in. And, she is somebody that I think so many of us would love to know in person now. We can relate to her as if we really do know her as a dear and fun friend now, kind of amazingly even across the two hundred years of just textual context. She talks to us in a way that we can talk to each other. She is the friend we all wished lived next door. At least that is how I continue to see Jane Austen.

  7. Emma permalink
    August 11, 2011 11:47 pm

    I agree with you on so many points! Too many to list!

    I have long loved everything from Jane Austen to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle for the sharp wit, the truly lovable heroes and heroines, and the wholesome world their stories are set in. I mean, there’s always been a seedy underbelly throughout history, but the thing I love about most literature from the 1800s is that they focused on the heroes; the people we want to emulate.

    Even in Dracula, the band of people fighting the title villain have so many good qualities and polite manners I told my friends and family it was like reading ‘Sense and Sensibility’ with a vampire to be vanquished (so unlike every vampire story since). And that’s the problem with the majority of modern fiction; wholesome heroes are scorned, everyone thinks they need to be so flawed that I almost see them as villains and then I have no one to root for!

    I agree that Jane Austen doesn’t write pure romance. There is so much more to her stories! The thing I have never liked about romance, novels or movies, is that there isn’t really anything else going on; and I just can’t care about a story that consists mainly of two people who do nothing but stare into each others’ eyes or complain about everyone trying to keep them apart. The romance should be a thread in the story, but not the main plot. With Austen there is so much else going on! Austen and other 1800s writers have so many other complex characters, so many family relationships, so much more substance. That’s part of why they are classics.

    • August 12, 2011 1:19 am

      Thanks, Emma! Oh, yes, I love Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s style of writing too (that which I’ve read thus far – I need to read more)! Now, there seems a chivalrous man – you can tell by how he writes Doctor Watson in relation to women etcetera (and how he loved his wife). Yes, oh, yes I love the wholesomeness that you can count on in the 1800s literature. You might see hints and more of the realities on the ‘backstreets’ or in the backrooms, but if someone like Lydia runs off with someone like Wickham, for example, you don’t get gratuitous details. I don’t have to worry about having to skim through anything ‘untoward’. Yes, and heroes were truly heroic – somebody you can truly look up to. Yes, heroes can be flawed (because they are human beings and I’m okay with that kind of depth to a character), but not villainously flawed! How can you look up, when you are looking down?!

      I’ve always been mostly an incurable romantic, and I can be weak for romance elements, I’m fine with the main thread being the romance or romances (I’m a horribly instinctive matchmaker!), but there has to be a rich and full-bodied backdrop of other interesting characters to make me entirely happy. And I like relationship details – challenges, frustrations, realities – the kinds of things and people that we all will likely face some time or another. There have to be complexities woven throughout. Not to say that I don’t like a fairly simple story too sometimes, I just want far more than a formula romance that focuses so pin-pointedly on pretty much just the romance. Yes, classics stand the test of time because they makes us think and feel – they are situations and people we can relate to and root for – there are universal themes and eternal verities.

  8. Pamela permalink
    August 12, 2011 12:18 am

    I do love a lot of aspects of the Regency era. You mentioned empire waistlines. I admire the shawls, and straw hats with wide ribbon tied under the chin. ~ Austen style does make one think, what if? The lack of communication I find frustrating. But with everyone communicating there wouldn’t be a story. ~ Am I a Janeite? Probably, but I really don’t like labels. I find Jane Austen novels enjoyable & a great escape. ~ What is my greatest Jane Austen regret? I must admit that I did not read Jane Austen because someone told me she was too wordy. I didn’t pick up one of her novels until after I had seen the P & P movie with Colin Firth. Now I own a copy of all her novels and pick them up when I’m in an “Austen state of mind.” Yup, I guess you can label me a Janeite! ~ Loved hearing about your grandparents farm Kerri. What great memories.

    • August 12, 2011 1:53 am

      Thanks, Pamela! Oh, yes! I absolutely love the shawls – where can I get some! (I’ve been seriously pondering how and where for just the right ones! I confess, because of Jane Austen’s world, I finally got myself quite a teacup collection with even some coordinating teapots!) And I love many of the hats, too, although I sometimes buy hats and then never wear them for some reason! I’m a hat girl in my heart. I like some of the bonnets too.

      Oh yes, when there is a breakdown of communication, or a lack in the first place, I can find myself wondering things like, ‘why doesn’t she just tell him…?!’, but then the story would wind up ever so quickly, and without all the fun along the way. Very true that Jane Austen has given us delightful places to escape to. Uplifting journeys. My kind of escapism. Some people have told me they find Austen prose wordy, difficult reading, boring and too many old words (I love the antiquated wordage!). Once I discovered the 1995 ‘Sense’ movie, I soon jumped into the novel, but I stayed there in ‘Sense’ land a long while (re-watching, rereading, repeat, repeat, repeat) before I explored beyond into more Austen land. I think I finally saw 1995 P&P in about 2000 when I was in the middle of reading the novel for the first time. I had a different Mrs. Bennet in my head until the movie rewired my brain, so I finished reading with another Mrs. Bennet voice – more shrill, to be sure! Yes, I also own every Austen novel (actually numerous copies of most – hardcover, paperback, normal print, large print, audiobooks, a very early edition of P&P from England, a special little hardcover collection of all the novels from England and the list goes on!), plus early writings and a large volume of her letters, especially to her sister Cassandra. Hmm, yes, I must be a Janeite after all. I too get in Austen moods (state of minds!) and must relent. What a ‘pick-me-up’! Natural ‘anti-depressants’!

      I almost took the little farm bit out (just a tiny fractional hint of the ‘farm stories’ up my sleeve) – so, I’m really glad you liked it. All us Bennett siblings and cousins are very romantic and sentimental about the old farm days in our summertime childhoods. It’s kind of funny when some of us get together and start reminiscing about the long ago and far away Bennett Ranch.

  9. Lynn permalink
    August 12, 2011 12:24 am

    I have to admit that I’ve never been much of a romantic. That being said, one of the things that I’ve always enjoyed about Jane Austen’s work is that there’s so much more than romance to the stories. It’s just like you said, it’s about people, about their shortcomings, and their relationships. Be they friendships, romances or rivalries.

    And that is what I think makes them so universal, for so many, is that there’s sort of something for everyone, there’s humor, there’s wit, there’s loss, there’s sadness, and there’s of course romance; and all of this makes for a story and characters you want to read more of.

    For me, that’s what makes me want to know how their lives turned out, that’s what makes me want to know if they get a happy ending. Not because I love a story that ends in a wedding, but because I’ve grown to love the characters and hope they find what makes them happy in the end.

    I think we love the characters not because we read about how they fell in love, but because we read about how they treated others, how they gave, how they thought, or how they went without for other characters, and this makes us care about them, and want to know their story. At least it does for me.
    I’ve always been about characters, if I don’t care about the characters, I just can’t care about the book. Jane Austen was a marvel when it came to characters, and that is what makes her books speak to me.

    • August 12, 2011 3:29 am

      Thanks, Lynn! Yes, that is what I said to myself when I first ‘met’ Jane Austen, ‘There is just so much more than simply romance! (and it is so especially charming!)’ Actually, after my introduction to romance novels (possibly classified as pulp fiction of that genre, and thankfully they were some pretty squeaky clean ones), when I was twelve, I decided that to read one was likely to know them all – just different names, faces (maybe slightly varied situations) and places. At that still very young age, I was quickly bored. I was already very romantic – too romantic, I’m sad to say – quite the ‘S&S Marianne’ – but those romance formula stories quickly lost my attention. I lost interest. There wasn’t enough to keep me hooked. With Jane Austen, there is so much reality – so much to delve into – so much truth. The characters seem real, so you can care about them. And Jane Austen does make me care about her characters like few others, I would say.

      Yes, you are exactly right in your description about all the reasons why we care about Jane Austen’s characters in all the situations and challenges they are faced with. And she tells her tales with all that wit and sarcasm that just puts a smile on your face, if not giving you a chuckle or a belly laugh too. Even while I was hating Fanny, I was laughing with Jane while she poked fun at the faults ‘that woman’ emitted. I think it helped me, just a little maybe, to separate ‘the sin from the sinner’ and not feel the hate so much (like I can feel inclined to do when up against a nasty person), and to just embrace the laughter about human nature and all the different kinds of people – of course I prefer the people who make our lives better and the world a better place! It’s no fun to deal with a mean type. Golly, I wish there were more Jane Austens in the world – but, you know, all those who read and watch her style of story, may just absorb a little of what she offered! And, I think there are more Janeites around the world every day! That can only be a good thing.

  10. August 12, 2011 1:51 am

    I love how Jane could combine doubt, ache and hope in amount to form perfect stories.

    • August 12, 2011 3:42 am

      Right you are, Elaine! Jane Austen certainly formed perfect (thoughts/feelings) combination stories! Thanks for your comment!

  11. August 12, 2011 2:26 am

    yes, i’d consider myself a janeite and i’d agree my definition lines up as yours, ‘the Janeite term seems a badge of honor’ except i’d spell it honour “)
    luv the romance, luv the character depth, the core values of perseverance, forebearance, stalwart and true friendships, relational and homey lifestyles, beauty and appreciation for nature with time to persue both…
    thankyou for being part of this extravaganza “)

    • August 12, 2011 3:42 am

      Thanks, Faith, Hope & CherryTea! (Mmm… I love Celestial Seasonings Cherry Tea!) When I lived in Canada, it was ‘honour’ and colour and at this point, I forget what else! Sometimes I get all mixed up with UK versus US spellings! I can’t remember how many words I had to relearn to ‘write American right’! Yes, I agree with you – I love it all – all those mentions you mentioned! Even simply core values and appreciation for nature certainly cover a great distance all on their own! And the word beauty gets me thinking again about all the lovely beautiful details that speak to me about Austen books and movies. Thank you too for being part of the extravaganza! It’s always lovely to communicate with those who love Austen too!

  12. Valerie R. permalink
    August 12, 2011 5:10 am

    OMGoodness!! So much info! LOL It’s late for me, and so much to think about… Think I’m going to have to think more on it 😉

    • August 12, 2011 9:38 pm

      Hi Valerie! Yes, sometimes I think my greatest vice is verbosity! I had so many things bouncing around my busy little brain and I guess I didn’t do so well at compressing my thoughts to something less! But, when a Janeite like me gets talking things Austen, well, I tend to have a good deal to say! Please feel free to come back anytime, look around, and comment as little or as much as you like! Thanks so much for stopping by!

  13. August 12, 2011 9:45 pm

    Many thanks to all of you (lovely Janeites!) who stopped by to check out this ‘Regency Ramblings and Regrets’ post, and extra thanks go out to each of you who commented relating to our darling Jane Austen as well! I hope everyone enjoys the continuing ‘Austenesque Extravaganza’ event throughout the rest of this month!

  14. Chelsea B. permalink
    August 12, 2011 11:34 pm

    Great post!! 🙂

  15. Margaret permalink
    August 18, 2011 12:45 am

    I wish I lived back in those days too! Enjoyed both the questions and the answers here. Lovely post thank you!

  16. September 1, 2011 6:34 pm

    What a very long but interesting posts with so many questions. Yes, I still prefer to live in modern world with increasing technological advances and equal opportunities for male and female but I would like certain aspects to remain the same such as the chivalry in gentleman and good manners for both sexes. It would certainly please me to inherit the good qualities of Regency and Victorian era and discard any disadvantages but life is not like that. We have to accept the good and the bad that comes with it

    • September 9, 2011 7:29 pm

      Thanks for your comment, L thien84. You are right that we have to accept certain things that come with the times we live in and sometimes we can only yearn for any loveliness of the past. We stand in reality while we dream in fantasy. Yes, there are two sides to every coin, so to speak; and life teaches us many things along the way (throughout history of humankind); but sometimes I think that it is quite true that ‘the more things change, the more things stay the same’. In many respects people are people, throughout the ages. Yes, many details change, such as superstitions and prevailing religious or scientific thought, but when I first discovered Jane Austen’s world, I realized that there were the same human heights and failings back then as there are now. Many of JA’s characters might as well have been people that I have known over many years – unfortunately, seemingly more of the petty people – but negatives are often easier to remember than positives.
      Being an idealist always, I have long thought that we should work to discard any ‘old traditions’ that do not serve us well, while we hold to the ‘good traditions’ that uplift us each and all. There’s no need to throw manners, civility and kindness out the window, for example. And doesn’t chivalry fit the ‘male ego’ well anyhow? There are so many details about ‘the good old days’ that I tend to believe that individuals could work to bring back and keep with us (and then society at large could gradually follow). I know that I have tried to raise my own kids with higher morals and better manners, and in that way I do my part to give the greater culture, more culture. Am I an optimist? Only sometimes.

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