Monday, December 10, 2007

Anna Campbell Celebrates All Things Jane!

December 16th is the birthday of one of the greatest writers in English and a woman who is in many ways the mother of every romance novel since. Yes, I'm talking about the wonderful Jane Austen who wrote the sparkling Pride and Prejudice and the heart-wrenching Persuasion (my particular favorite among her books). I'd love to have a day of celebration in her honor. I'll even let people who like Emma and Mansfield Park have their turn, in the interest of fairness!

Jane was born in Steventon in Hampshire in 1775 and died in Winchester in 1817. The words 'uneventful life' might have been invented to describe her life. And yet she wrote books that still touch millions of people today, and she reaches millions more through TV and film adaptations of her work. Other people, other WOMEN, were writing when Jane was and yet hers is the voice that has emerged to speak to posterity. I've got a few theories of why this is but I'd love to hear your thoughts on why this poor, plain woman, who in terms of her own society was unfulfilled because she never married and had children, is still a superstar 190 years after her death. In fact, probably more a superstar today than ever.
Why do you think the books still move us? Why do we still think they're sexy? And undoubtedly we do. I remember the swooning sighs when I watched the wet shirt scene from the BBC adaptation with a couple of girlfriends. And a similar reaction to Matthew McFadyen striding through the mists in his long coat to claim his Lizzie in the recent film adaptation. Just in case you've forgotten either of those adaptations, I'm attaching a photo or two. Purely for research purposes, you understand. Yeah, right!

A really poignant memory from my 2004 trip to Britain is when I visited Jane's grave in Winchester Cathedral, not far from Steventon where she was born. The grave marker was set up by her brother and it extols her Christian virtues of charity and kindness and meekness and sweetness. You know the ones I'm talking about! There's not a word mentioning Jane's writing. This could be the grave of any respectable, obscure, country spinster.

There's such an irony in this (although there's now a brass plaque above the gravestone and a stained glass window above that extolling Jane's literary achievement). But perhaps that, in its way, is fitting. Irony is the essence of Jane's style - and I think one of the secrets of her longevity in readers' hearts. That probing, perceptive, unflinching gaze upon human frailty exposes characters for what they are. But she's not cruel either - there's heart with the honesty.

Jane wrote five books and a handful of scraps before she died far too young. Another irony is the legion of sequels to her stories and books about her life and times that have emerged since. One of the most recent is The Lost Memoirs Of Jane Austen by Syrie James which has been receiving excellent reviews (it isn't officially released for another couple of days). Courtesy of Avon A, I'd love to give one lucky commenter an advanced reader copy of this book. I'll throw in a few signed coverflats as well, including one for my current release Untouched.

And to keep the Bandita Christmas recipes exchange going, here's a receipt for ratafia, a drink served at Regency receptions. My advice if you're intending to make this (and it actually sounds pretty poisonous!) is buy some headache pills with the rest of the ingredients. Those Regency bucks and diamonds of the first water must have had pretty hard heads!

An 1828 recipe for Ratafia:

Into one quart of brandy, pour half a pint of cherry juice, half a pint of currant juice, half a pint of raspberry juice, add a few cloves, some white pepper in grains, two grains of green coriander, and two sticks of cinnamon. Then pound the stones of cherries, and put them in, wood and all. Add 25 or 30 apricot kernels. Cork your demijohn and let it infuse for one month in the shade, shaking it five or six times. After the liquid has infused, strain it through a flannel bag, then through a filtering paper, then bottle and cork it.

So let's talk about the great Jane! Why do we love her? Why does she still speak to readers in 2007? If she was alive now, what would she be writing? Would she be shocked at what romance novels have become? Or delighted? Which book is your favorite and why? Do you - shock horror! - dislike Jane's writing? There are no sacred cows here at the Banditas. Or none that we haven't rustled from the next rancho, anyway. I'll admit here and now I don't particularly like Dickens and I loathe Thomas Hardy so I suppose it's conceivable someone mightn't like Jane Austen. What's your favorite film or TV adaptation? And most important of all - who is the most gorgeous Mr. Darcy? The ARC goes to my favorite comment! And Banditas are eligible!


p226 said...

I'm completely in the dark here. I've never heard of Jane. But then I suppose that's not particularly surprising.

p226 said...

Hmmm.... And since I have that GR thing again, I suppose I'd better start digging in lest legionnaires and gladiators try to rescue it from the skillet.

Jennifer Y. said...

LOL p226

Loved the post Anna!

As we already discussed, Jane and I share a birthday...other than that I know very little about Jane herself other than she wrote lovely stories. I have seen the The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen and it sounds like a great book.

I have not read all of her books...have never read Persuasion and have never even seen a film adaptation of the book...hmmm...might have to rectify that.

EMMA with Gwyneth Paltrow is one of my fave film adaptations though of one of her books.

Plus I love Pride & Prejudice and as for film adaptations, I admit to being a Colin Firth fan...he is a great Mr. Darcy.

I also have several other books related to Pride and Prejudice by other authors sitting in my TBR pile all unread...Mr. Darcy's Diary, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues, Mr. Darcy's Daughters, Me & Mr. Darcy...hmmm...I am noticing a pattern here.

Well, I think it is cool that I share a birthdate with someone like is a nice little connection.

Jennifer Y. said...

Psst...p226, you could just pass the GR to me...LOL

Amy Andrews said...

Hmmm, sorry to be the voice of dissent Anna but I hated Pride and Prejudice - couldn't even finish it and I DO persevere with books - and its put me off trying another Jane.
Yes, it was a long time ago and to be fair I should give her another go. But who has time to read???

I'm more a Bronte fan. And I LOVE Dickens.

Having said that I must thank Jane for creating the character that one day lead to Colin Firth playing Mr Darcy.
Great foresight ;-)

Helen said...

Loved the post Anna.
I have never read one of her books shock horror the ones that have been made into movies I have seen and loved them.
I have always wanted to read them but have never gotten around to it.
This post has made me more determined than ever to read them. I am not sure whether she would be shocked about the way romance novels have gone.
I love Mr Darcy he is my favourite.
Have Fun

Anna Campbell said...

P226, drop that GR and pick up Pride and Prejudice. You won't be sorry and someone else will get a chance at him before you turn him into a chicken sandwich!

Jennifer, bad luck you missed out this morning. Sounds like you're a sequel addict! ;-)

Amy, have another go at P&P. My mother gave me Jane Eyre when I was about 10 and I was far too young for it. Got stuck on the depressing boarding school bit and couldn't go any further. Then I read it at uni and I still think it's one of my favorite books. Colin Firth was yummy, wasn't he? He can dive into my swimming pool any time ;-)

Helen, it's wonderful how Jane has become a popular heroine because her books turn so successfully into movies, isn't it? And definitely give P&P a go. If only to get an idea of where romance novels that we have in such wonderful profusion now started out!

Keira Soleore said...

Thanks for that Matthew McFadyen out-of-the-mist photo. Loved him as Mr. Darcy.

I've read all of Austen's, Brontes', Dickens' and Hardy's works, and surprisingly, there was something in each of them that I've remembered over the years, even when I haven't read them more than once. However, Jane's books I return to over and over again.

The cleverness and uickness of her dialogue and wit (same reason why I like Heyer's books) and spare depictions of common human follies that we "see" every day but don't Observe."

Today, Jane would be writing witty chick-lit like she did then. Her contemporaries, while high on humor, were detailed in their observations.

Sorry... didn't mean to write a dissertation here. More comments later.

Fedora said...

Hmm... I did really enjoy Pride and Prejudice, and some of the film adaptations (agree that Colin Firth = yummy), but haven't read many of the works based on her life or writings. I've heard lovely things about Syrie's book, so maybe it's time to devote some time to revisiting Jane's writing and what she's inspired since!

Congrats again, p226--best wishes with your emergency bunker, or whatever it sounds like you're creating to protect the GR from those would-be rescuers/liberators! :)

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, at last another JA fan!!! I was starting to feel a bit lonely here. Yes, I love the way she's so clear about human failings. Someone like Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice is just amazing - he's so real and yet so funny. Yes, do come back and comment some more. ;-)

Flchen, lovely to see you again! I haven't read any of the follow-ups either but the reports I'm hearing about Syrie's book sound great. It's a really nicely presented book too, which I like - the Avon trades really are a nice product. I like a book that's a pleasure to look at and hold. Hmm, I like a hero that's a pleasure to look at and hold...

Christine Wells said...

Lovely post, Anna! You made me want to re-read my Austen collection, especially Persuasion.

Avon Red has published a Jane book? My goodness, poor Jane would be put to the blush! And I think she would have to be a writer if she were alive today. No one with that talent would live to maturity without it rising to the surface.

Although they're marvelously ironic and witty and observant, Jane's novels are still romances at heart, aren't they? I'd like to think she'd be writing romance today. Who knows? With the benefit of equal rights, a good education and the need to eat, a woman of her intelligence might have ended up a stockbroker or a lawyer or something equally dire. Thank goodness she lived in an era when women were so oppressed or there might have been no Austens at all!

Snap! I loathe Thomas Hardy too!

Jane said...

My favorite is "Pride&Prejudice." Matthew MacFadyen is my favorite Mr. Darcy. Jennifer Ehle is my favorite Lizzie. The oldie with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson was great too. "Tess of the D'Urbervilles" is not one of my favorites but it's the only one of Hardy's that I've read. Can't say one way or another if I like him.

Jennifer Y. said...

Jennifer, bad luck you missed out this morning. Sounds like you're a sequel addict! ;-)

LOL...either that or I just like to buy things with Mr. Darcy in the title.

Hmmm...I haven't seen the most recent version of P&P...even though it sits on my movie shelf...might have to watch it...My fave Mr. Darcy might change.

Anna Campbell said...

Goodness me!! I'm the one red in the face!!! It's Avon A, the trade paperback Avon, not Avon Red, the naughty Avons. Oh, Jane would be so upset with me! ;-) Thank you, Christine. That was just a slip of the fingers on the keyboard. I think I was looking at the red ribbon across the front cover!

You're right - perhaps we have benefited from Jane's limited opportunities!

Jane, Thomas Hardy was terrifically in fashion when I was in my early-late teens and I kept reading him, wondering why! Just personal taste I guess but I never really got his world view at all. Seemed to be misery for the sake of misery was its own reward somehow. Can't admire people who fall into that trap. I agree with you about the old Hollywood P&P. It's a tremendous amount of fun. And I wish there had been an archery scene in the book - it just fits so beautifully, doesn't it? I agree with you about MM as the best Mr. Darcy (I know, I know - I'm now waiting for the Firth girls to aim at me with their bows and arrows!). I liked Jennifer E and Keira K. Both brought out different aspects of Lizzie which worked for me.

Jennifer, Colin F has an enormous number of admirers so perhaps you mightn't change your mind but I think the new film is definitely worth seeing. It takes a very different view of the book - concentrates on the romance rather than the social comedy which I liked.

Unknown said...

P&P is my favorite. I still have the copy my mother gave me when I was about 12 (a looong time ago!) It was a boxed set, and the spine has lovely faux red leather with (now faded) gold lettering.

As for the most gorgeous Mr Darcy, Colin Firth wins for me. (Bit unfair as I pretty much like him in anything. ;)) Laurence Olivier comes second. I’m sorry (ducking AND running) Mathew McFadden just didn’t do it for me. Mind you, I thought he was great in Death at a Funeral!

I read Dickens, Hardy and the Brontes at school and whilst I didn’t hate them (except for Wuthering Heights), being forced to read them made me lose the desire to pick up the rest of their novels. I’m glad we never had to read Jane Austen – just think what I would have missed!

Anna Campbell said...

Cheryl, the blog virgin is turning into a blog tart ;-) Lovely to see you here again! I know CF has a legion of admirers - and I thought he was great, don't get me wrong. My problems with the BBC adaptation aren't to do with casting the leads. CF did the repressed passion thing SOOO well, didn't he? The way he'd looked at her, you'd just melt. Well, I sure did!

Pride and Prejudice was one of my mother's favorites too - and she had a huge crush on Laurence Olivier so that makes that version special to me anyway. And you hated Wuthering Heights???!!! We did it at school and everyone had a huge crush on Heathcliff, including MOI! Hated Cathy, though. Selfish little cow ;-) I hate the way Dickens writes women - although people tell me the later stuff is better with that than the earlier stuff. They're either caricatures or milksops. Grrrr! Isn't it sad when school destroys your possible pleasure in a book? As you say, lucky you didn't do JA there!

Donna MacMeans said...

Happy Birthday dear Miss Jane and thank you so much for P&P.

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the movie BECOMING JANE that came out earlier this year. Did it make it to Oz? The story supposively is that of Jane austen's life, although I think the only facts in it were that she was a minister's daughter and that she never married. But the movie made her life appear to be a series of episodes from P&P. It was fun, but had a sad ending. Of all people, Jane Austen should have had a happily-ever-after.

As for the heros, I love them all. Why did those long black coats ever go out of style? They make the men look so yummy (or maybe it's the men that do wonders for the coats *g*)

Amy Andrews said...

Yep Donna, Becoming Jane made it to Oz and I quite liked it. Made me ever so glad I'm a 21st century woman.

You're so right Anna about school destroying so many people's interest in books - particularly boys. My dh never read voluntarily due to being forced to read Shakespeare until I informed him I wasn't going to be married to someone who didn't read and now he's a vorocious reader. My son is NOT a reader (I'm sure he was swapped at the hospital) but he loves anything with whacky, gory, crazy factual information - so that what I get him. I figure its still reading.

I saw Wuthering Heights the film first in gr 10 - horrible black and white but modern version, think it had Timothy Dalton as Heathcliffe. So when we "had" to read it for school I was NOT looking forward to it. But man - it had from "I have just returned from a visit with my landlord"

And snap back at ya Christine and Anna. Thomas Hardy - shudder!! Someone pass me the razor blades.

Stacy S said...

I've never read any of her books!

Christie Kelley said...

Of course I love Jane! Her books are timeless because romance is timeless.

I still think Pride and Prejudice is the best book. But I'm with Jennifer Y, I loved Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow.

Speaking of Jane, I picked up the mail on Saturday and had a package from my agent. She sent me a Jane Austin action figure complete with Pride and Prejudice in her right hand and a quill in her left. I love it. She'll look great in the new office.

Courtney Milan said...

p226, you mean that I saved the Golden Rooster yesterday just so you could try to cook it? How sad. :(

But what a great topic. Jane Austen--I love Jane Austen, and I adore Pride and Prejudice. I must have read that book thirty times. I have to admit to not liking Mansfield Park. Everyone knows Fanny married the wrong man.

And I read and loved Thomas Hardy's Tess.... except for the last third of it, which I always rewrote in my head to give them a happy ending.

Deb Marlowe said...

Hi Anna!

Happy Birthday Jane Austen! I adore Jane because I think she is one of the greatest observers of the human condition. You hit it on the head, for me Anna, when you mention Mr. Collins. It's the Mr. Collins' and the Sister Marys that I love in her work, as much as her Emmas and Elizabeths. They are so well drawn and so full of real human oddities--sigh!

I just love her.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post, Anna! For me, one of the great things about Jane Austen was her innate understanding of human nature :)

Buffie said...

Great post Anna! I have to make a true confession here -- I have never, ever read one of Jane's books. Not a one! I have seen the BBC P&P series once and thought it was pretty good.

Gannon Carr said...

I adore Jane Austen! P&P is my favorite, but I love Emma and Sense and Sensibility as well.

The BBC version of P&P is my guilty pleasure--I could watch it every day. Colin Firth is the quintessential Mr. Darcy! Although, I have to say my heart beat faster when Matthew MacFadyen came striding through the mist! *sigh*

Anonymous said...


as a lover of P&P, please tell me why anyone likes Darcy? I mean, yes, I get that he's redeemed at the end, but isn't he just a prig for 90% of the book?

(okay, stirring up a little trouble here, but I know you're up to the challenge...) ;-)

anyway, I'm more of an Emma fan. Now there's a book with a hero I can appreciate.

Thanks for a great blog, Anna. Perhaps someday you can write a memoir of dear Jane. And maybe you'll do it for Avon RED! (I was also curious as to the content if that was the line it was written for!)


Sonja Foust said...

Yay for Jane Austen! Honestly, I hadn't read her until recently. My mom told me when I was a teenager that she'd read Jane Austen when SHE was a teenager and that she thought it was boring. Boring was pretty much a cardinal sin when I was a teenager, so I never read one. But being a romance writer, you can't avoid Jane Austen forever, so I read Pride and Prejudice. Loved it. It did take a while to get into the pace though. And I love it more now that I've seen the BBC version. There's so much subtext that I missed the first time around that I think I'm going to have to read it again. ;)

Terri Osburn said...

I'm another that has to make the confession. I have never read one of Jane's books. I do have Northanger Abbey on my shelf and that is the one story I don't know much about. I really want to read Persuasion.

Matthew is my Darcy though I'm not about to kick Colin out of bed for eating scones. There was just something palpable about Matthew's Darcy and when he showed vulnerability it was completely sigh worthy.

We had to read much of Dickens in school and I don't remember not liking them but you do have a point about how he portrays women. Look at Great Expectations for goodness sake!

doglady said...

Oh no! The GR is in the clutches of p226 AGAIN!! Run away! Run away!

doglady said...

I adore each and every one of Jane Austen's books. Pride and Prejudice narrowly edges out Persuasion as my favorite. Matthew Mac is my favorite Mr. Darcy with all due respect to the Firth Five Million Fans. I prefer Colin in comedies. He does that little boy lost thing SO well. He makes you want to take him under the covers uhm, I mean under your wing. Yes, that's it. Under your wing! Matthew Mac just makes you want to TAKE him!!

Caren Crane said...

Anna, I adore Jane! I have said before that I wish I had a Regency voice, because I love the period so much.

Deb Marlowe said exactly what I was going to say! Jane had a wonderful eye for the human condition and an infallible discernment of human frailty in all forms. Her secondary characters, while leaning toward charicature, were so embarrassingly real! They were the neighbors and relations we don't want to think of, the ones we are slow to claim.

Mr. Collins was the epitome of Jane's characterizations. I especially loved the Mr. Collins in the A&E version--so obseqious to Lady Catherine and yet so pompous!

In book form, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite. I never read "Lady Susan" or "Mansfield Park", I'm sorry to say. I didn't care for the movie version of MP, though. She definitely married the wrong man!

In movie form, it's a toss-up. I loved the A&E version with Colin Firth. I am in the Colin Firth faction. Matthew MacFadyen simply did not seem prideful nor prejudiced enough to pull off Mr. Darcy to me. He seemed like a rather beta actor trying to act alpha. Sorry, MM fans! But, like Cheryl, I thought he was wonderful in "Death At a Funeral" (a hilarious movie, btw).

Jennifer Ehle was the perfect Jane. Have you ever seen anyone with eyes that sparkle and laugh like Jennifer's? Perfect!

At the prompting of someone (probably a Bandita), I watched "Persuasion" a couple of months ago. At first, I wasn't sure I would like it. It was fabulous! The actress, Amanda Root, is quite mousy in this movie. But she fairly blossoms under the attentions of Captain Wentworth (the fabulous Ciaran Hinds)--so wonderful! I also loved the Gwyneth Paltrow version of "Emma" and the "Sense and Sensibility" with Emma Thompson. I think the extra-long P&P has to win, though. It's an all-day Austen experience!

P226, we can neither confirm nor deny the existence of Bandita legionnaires. We can also neither confirm nor deny the rumor that alleged legionnaires may be en route to your compound--er, home. I recommend staying indoors and away from the stove...

Susan Sey said...

Hi, Anna!

This may make me sound really ill-informed, & as it's been years since I picked up an Austen novel, I might be, but here goes:

I love Jane Austen's books, except for the part where she glosses over the most emotional conversation of every book with an off-hand "there ensued a most gratifying conversation in which things were made plain/issues resolved/feelings confessed/etc." I love the way she conveys the social strictures that all but paralyze meaningful conversation, but you go through hundreds of pages of meaningful looks, longing silences, yearning stares, & YOU JUST WANT SOMETHING TO HAPPEN. ON CAMERA, so to speak. I want somebody to blast through the restrictions & just SAY IT already. And that always happens, eventually. Just off camera. And she fills it in with a that "and there ensued a most gratifying conversation" phrase.

So I may be completely misremembering my Austen here, but it seems to me that that was my overwhelming impression when reading her. A breathless couple hundred pages building up to an explosive scene of confrontation, only to have it snatched away & alluded to. Ack!

That said, I'm in LOVE with Jeremy Northam's Mr. Knightley from Emma & nobody can have him but me. Mine!



doglady said...

I think Jane's social "anonymity" may have put her in just the right place to become the writer she became. She was able to observe the lives of others, to make a study of them. Even in situations where she was in the thick of things, she strikes me as the type of person in whom everyone would confide. She was witness to all of the machinations, foibles and follies of human nature and relations. She may well have been the first writer to see the vital importance of putting all of that on paper, of preserving it for posterity. She realized the people of her time where real people, not characters. For those who think Jane Austen never knew love, I have to disagree. She saw people as they were - flawed, vulnerable, foolish, scared and all too human and she loved them enough to preserve them forever in her prose. She would love today's romance authors who tear human relations down to their fundamental issues and show us all of the fear and doubt involved in handing your heart over to someone else's keeping.

Caren Crane said...

Oh, and for the Darcy haters (Kirsten), I think the fact that we know almost nothing about Mr. Darcy makes him almost impossible to understand.

If you want real insight into Darcy and his startling change of heart and mind (and it was completely 180 degrees), you need to read the three novels by Pamela Aidan: "An Assembly Such As This", "Duty and Desire" and "These Three Remain". You will get a keen appreciation for how little interaction there was between Darcy and Elizabeth and what a tiny bit we knew about Darcy.

I don't know how Aidan did it, but she captured the sensibility of the time, the tone and pace of the story and completely climbed into Mr. Darcy's skin. They are amazing books.

Unfortunately, I have heard some people skipped the middle one, since Elizabeth is not actively in it. This is a huge mistake. The second book sets up all the motivation for why Darcy has his enormous shift in world view. Highly recommended!

M. said...

I loved both those film adaptations. When I first saw Matthew MacFayden (is that right?) I wasn't so sure, but by the time that misty dawn field-striding scene came up, I was more than convinced of the brilliance of his casting for the part. *swoon*

jo robertson said...

Oh my goodness, Anna, so many questions, so little space!

P226, how ironic that a male at whom Austen poked such gentle fun should win the rooster.

I love Austen because of the ascerbic, tongue-in-cheek criticism of her society. How sad that such a gifted woman had so few opportunities to alter her station.

But shame on you, Anna! You abhor Hardy? I would've thought that, with his dark, desperate themes, you'd think him a kindred spirit. Ah, but no happy ever after in Hardy's works.

Caren Crane said...

Anna, you and other Austen lovers may be interested to know that in January, Penguin is putting out a new version of Emma with an Afterword by our honorary Bandita, Sabrina Jeffries. In addition to being a NYT best-selling author of Regency-set historicals, Sabrina also holds a phD in English Literature from Tulane University. A two-fer: Jane and Sabrina. What's not to love?

Maureen said...

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite, both the book and the film from BBC. I enjoy seeing all these different women and how they interact with the world around them.

Anna Campbell said...

Hi Donna! Becoming Jane did get out here but I didn't see it - I used to be such a movie geek and these days, I never seem to get there. I think the last film I saw was Miss Potter and that was on the plane to America (by the way, it was GREAT!). You're right about the Regency clothes - I find the boots really sexy. Hmm, does that make me sound like a Nazi? And the sideburns and those wonderful coats. I have a theory that one of the reasons Regency is most popular setting has to do with fashion!

Amy, great to think we're setting up the Anti-Hardy club here. I think he hated his characters. I think he particularly hated his FEMALE characters ;-)

I loved the TD version of Wuthering Heights as a teenager. He made a great brooding Heathcliff although from memory, they did some strange things with the story. The version of WH I hate was an old BBC one which decided that Heathcliff was a pig (which has an element of truth) and made him SOOOO unattractive that you couldn't imagine anyone falling in love with him. Unless he's pretty compelling, the story makes no sense at all!

Anna Campbell said...

Stacy, give P&P a go. There's a bit of adjustment just because it's an older style of writing but honestly, it's really not hard going at all and the best bits of the TV show/movie definitely come from the book!

Christie, what a fantastic present! I'd LOVE a Jane Austen action figure! I hope she's sitting on your desk and inspiring you to write more fantastic books!

CM, sorry the rooster was yours for such a brief moment. Remember - tis better to have loved and lost than never to have had that bird at all! I think Jennifer and P226 have set up camp on the doorstep to the lair just so they can keep the bird flying between the two of them. You have to be pretty spry to drag it out of their eager little hands these days!

I've lost count of how many times I've read P&P - must be close to you. I'm not a great fan of Emma - find it a bit creepy that Mr. Knightley just hangs around waiting for her to grow up so he can marry her. And Fanny in Mansfield Park is drippy and she marries a prig whereas I like the 'wrong' boy too. Northanger Abbey is just good fun. Ooh, bad Austen Girl! I realize I miscounted - there's six mature novels. I forgot Sense and Sensibility.

Anna Campbell said...

Deb, what I love about those minor characters is that none of them are really 'minor' at all, are they? And none of them are caricatures, no matter how many foibles they have. I love Lady Catherine De Burgh who would have been a great musician if only she had ever learnt!

Bonnie, I'm with you - you know I said I had a theory of why she's still a superstar today? That's it - the way she could describe each person with all their individual faults and qualities. I KNOW people like the ones she describes.

Yes, I've got to admit my heart did a bit of a flutter, Gannon, when MM came striding through the dawn mist. Sigh! And he's so desperately in love with Lizzie, that worked for me. I like my heroes to be desperately in love as you've probably gathered ;-)

Oh, Kirsten, I blush for shame! I should have given the prize to the person who could find ALL the mistakes in my blog. I did it on the fly - life has been so hectic lately.

Do you really think Darcy is a prig? Or are you just being a stirrer? Hmm, do you have that word in the US?

I think he's reserved. I think he needs taking down a peg or 100. But that's the fun. But he has some really appealing qualities - he's clever and he's witty and once he sees Lizzie's qualities, he's a goner. I like a man who's a goner when he meets up with his true love! And he's definitely a man of principle!

Mr. Knightley? Ugh! Now there's a prig! ;-)

Anna Campbell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anna Campbell said...

Buffie! Sorry I missed you when I went into shock at someone dissing Mr. Darcy! Give P&P a go. For a historical lover like you, you'll have fun picking out where some of the conventions of the genre have their origin.

Sonja, glad you came back to Jane. You're right - the books are just so rich, they need re-reading. Thanks for coming by the lair!!

Terri, hie thee to a bookshop. Persuasion is a lot more somber than P&P although it still has that wonderful wit and ironic view of human nature. It's her last book and there's this lovely autumnal quality to the writing. There's a great BBC adaptation with Ciaran Hinds as the dashing Captain Wentworth. See if you can get it - you will LOVE it! Trust me. Oh, Great Expectations? Shudder! Actually there's some great characterization in that book, unfortunately none of it female. ;-)

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Pam! Knew you'd be with me on him as Mr. Darcy! Terri, you're so right about him making the vulnerability under the pride so palpable. What a great word! And what I like about the movie is it makes it clear how YOUNG Lizzie and Darcy are - they're both in their twenties which explains a lot of their behavior to me.

Caren, what a great take on Jane! You're so right. Actually, while I had a few quibbles with the BBC version with CF, the Mr. Collins was absolutely spot on! Best one I've ever seen. I also thought the Wickham in that was great - he was smarmy but not so much that you'd pick it up at first and charming enough that you could understand Lizzie finding him so appealing.

And I'm 100% with you on the Persuasion film. It's just pitch perfect, isn't it? And it's gorgeous to see how Anne blossoms into a genuine beauty. Just makes me cry. And CH is SOOOO dashing!

Anna Campbell said...

Hmm, Susan, step away from Jeremy. That's right. Put down the loaded rooster...

Actually, he didn't do it for me either. Ducking the flying missiles! Nice to think we're all fighting over different heroes, isn't it?

Laughed at your "and then there ensued a most gratifying conversation." We get spoilt these days, don't we? I love that romances now go ALL the way and we see the couple having ALL their interactions. ;-) And no, it's not just because I've got a dirty mind!

Ooh, Pam! Here we are being silly and you pop in with something profound and heartfelt. How right you are. Actually I wonder if Jane's shyness also turned her into the writer she was. She couldn't express what she wanted (perhaps outside the closest family connections) so she had to put it all down on paper.

Caren, I haven't read those books. They sound great. I've also heard really good things about the Elizabeth and Darcy mystery series which includes such great titles as North by Northanger! And I don't need to add one more thing to the TBR pile!!! Whaaaaahhhh!

Anna Campbell said...

M, like you I wasn't sure about MM at first. But I really liked that they came at the story from such a different angle to any other version I'd ever seen. I love the proposal scene in the rain too. Oh, be still my beating heart!

Jo, did the Hardy hating surprise you? Personally I think after all that suffering, give your poor characters a break (although Far from the Madding Crowd does have a happyish ending).

Anna Campbell said...

Um, Emma's not to love? Sorry, Caren, really not my favorite among Jane's works! But the Sabrina connection may convince me. Hmm, probably not! ;-)

Maureen, that's one of the interesting things about P&P, isn't it? It's like Jane sets up Lizzie and then gives us a whole range of ways she could behave in her search for happiness. She could settle for security without love like Charlotte. Or she could throw her cap over the windmill and make a disastrous connection like Lydia's with Wickham. Or she could find the man of her dreams and then nearly lose him through reserve and shyness like sister Jane.

ruth said...

Your topic today interests me greatly. I enjoy all the classics and especially am in love with thomas Hardy and Dickens. I have read all of their books and enjoyed them thoroughly and whenever there was a movie version I saw that and felt enthralled with it. Jane Austen does appeal to me. I have read Emma and P ride and Prejudice.

sabrina said...

Your post today resounds with me since I have read the major works of Dickens and love them, especially the vivid and lengthy descriptions he used. I get lost within the pages and love every minute of it. Thomas Hardy books were all riveting for me. IN fact all British classics are fabulous. I read Pride and Prejudice many years ago. The acr has received wonderful reviews and it looks fascinating.

Anna Campbell said...

Ruth, fantastic to see a fan of the classics here! My mother was a huge Dickens fan - David Copperfield was her favorite.

Sabrina, what an interesting post on Dickens and Hardy. I know it's a lack in me that they don't resonate - I spent a lot of years trying to like them, but just never really got there. Dickens I might try again - there was a wonderful TV adaptation of Our Mutual Friend a few years ago that I think almost converted me. Hardy, nuh! Don't think I'll ever come to him. But hey, to each his or her own, huh?

Claudia Dain said...

I love Jane Austen. I love her books. I love the movies (some more than others--ahem).

Not like Mr. Darcy? Is this even possible? LOL

ellie said...

Great post Anna! Thanks for addressing these special and unique novels and writers which deserve attention. Most would disagree but the more verbose Dickens was the better I liked the novel. thomas Hardy has stories that I am drawn to and I have read every book he wrote. As far as Jane Austen is concerned I read Pride and Prejudice and that was the only one so far. The new book exploring Jane Austen should make interesting reading.

Caren Crane said...

Anna, the funniest thing about "Northanger Abbey" is the advertisement Jane wrote for it when it was finally published. Apparently, the publisher bought it when it was finished in 1803, but never published it. Jane finally got it published in 1816, after she had established herself. She apologized in her advertisement that it was practically obsolete.

Jane write, "The public are entreated to bear in mind that thirteen years have passed since it was finished, many more since it was begun, and that during that period, places, manners, books, and opinions have undergone considerable changes."

She would probably be baffled that we are still reading it!

anne said...

Thanks for this great post today, Anna. Just love it.
When I think of books that I hold dear to my heart and have always been a factor in my taste I must admit to the ones that you mentioned. Especially the greats here. Cannot live without mentioning how Dicken's writing has been the ultimate for me, no matter what book it was. I even make it a point to see the movies, Nicholas Nickleby a few years ago. Any British writer such as THomas Hardy has to be in my list. His books made such an inpression upon me. Must read more of the Jane Austen classics since I did read a couple of the known ones. The Lost Memoirs sounds like a wonderful and special book. Love to explore this.

FilmPhan said...

I love "Pride and Prejudice" both the newer movie and the BBC version. I think that I might like the newer version of the film best. I saw that with my grandma and mom. So there's good memories attached to that film. I must say I didn't really like the book though.

Anna Campbell said...

I know, Claudia! I'm still shocked. That Kirsten - she's clearly a VERY independent thinker!

Hey, Ellie, thanks for your comment! Actually it's interesting with those older books, that they were allowed to take their time with things like descriptions, isn't it? I'm not always in the mood for it, but sometimes I love picking up an old classic and getting the feeling that the whole world is contained in this book somehow.

Hey, Caren, how interesting! I suppose that's true because basically it's a satire on the craze for gothic novels whereas I imagine Walter Scott was the fashionable reading thirteen years later. Great big long historicals - now, he's another writer I've had trouble getting into. And Ivanhoe - the hero DEFINITELY ends up with the wrong girl!

Anne, thanks for popping over. Actually, it's confession time - I got TWO copies of the Lost Memoirs and I definitely intend to keep one and read it. But it seemed like a great prize to offer when JA's birthday was so close. I didn't see the new film of Nicholas Nickleby although I enjoyed a BBC adaptation that was on TV a few years ago. Actually I think we all owe the BBC a huge vote of thanks for keeping interest in a lot of the more obscure classics alive. One of my favorite adaptations is one they did of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. It was just breathtaking and I'll bet hardly anyone these days has even heard of the book.

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Lovely post, Anna! I have to confess,

I prefer the movie adaptations of Jane's works. A few years back on one of my daughter's worked for Borders, (yeah) and she bought me the entire A&E set for Christmas. And I also have my own copy of the movie Persuasion. Sigh. I adore that movie! Periodically I have a Regency fest and watch all of them back to back! :)

As to which Mr. Darcy do I like best. hmmmmmmm Well Colin Firth is simply scrumptous and very "proper and prideful" in the A&E version. But I so like Mathew MacFayden in the newer version. Esepcially in the rainy scene where he first asks her to marry him, then again, striding through the mist. Mmmmmmmm He seems to be a more passionate version of Mr. Darcy.

Sooooo I'll take both!

Anna Campbell said...

Filmphan, how interesting that you didn't like Pride and Prejudice in print but you liked the film. It's the last film I went to with my late mother too so it holds special memories for me too. If you get a chance, I'd love to know what put you off the book!

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, another fan of the movie version of Persuasion. Isn't it fantastic? I hope some of the girls from today get inspired and try and find it. It's just wonderful. I agree about not swapping one Mr Darcy for another. But I'm like you, MM just slightly edges out CF because of the passion factor. That proposal in the rain scene is great. And the bit where he hands her into the carriage. It's a tiny scene but so telling. Lucky you with the Borders connection!

Suzanne Ferrell said...

Anna, Persuasion is such a great second chance at love story! It's lovely to see Anne find her courage to stand up for herself against her family's wishes and then find love with her Captain Wentworth once more.

If y'all haven't seen this movie, it's a 1995 version with Amanda Root and CiarĂ¡n Hinds as the Captain. Too much fun. Watch it on a rainy, cold day with hot chocolate. Oh's a rainy, cold day in Texas...I have hot chocolate... hmmmm

Christine Wells said...

That said, I'm in LOVE with Jeremy Northam's Mr. Knightley from Emma & nobody can have him but me. Mine!

Susan! I LOVE Jeremy Northam. Have you seen him in Enigma? Sooo cool and he's fab in The Winslow Boy, too.

And Foanna, don't you dare say anything about beavers or I'll clock you!

jenna said...

Such a cool post today, Anna. While studying in university I fell in love with Jane Austen and her world. I found that there is so much to enjoy when reading books from this era. I did read Dickens and selected books that I deemed worthy. Tess is a fave of mine and other Thomas Hardy ones. I must learn more about Jane Austen from this new and attractive book.

Linda said...

I reread all of Jane's books every year. They are a cozy spot in my heart and I feel safe in her world. My favorite is Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. I think she would make a killer erotica writer if she were around today. Can't you just see Jane all in black leather with a whip? That's funny - I can...

Linda in California

Christine Wells said...

Foanna, have you read Tale of Two Cities? If not, I think you would like that one. Absolutely wrenching, which I know is your style:) I agree with your assessment of most of Dickens' female characters, though Bleak House might be an exception if the recent TV series is anything to judge by (I shamefacedly admit I haven't read the book. It always seemed like it would be too...bleak) In fact, I find a lot of Dickens more palatable on the small screen. I'm a Philistine, I know.

Anna Campbell said...

Suz, I've got Persuasion on video too. Might sit down over Christmas and remind myself how lovely it is. And even in hot weather, hot chocolate never goes astray. No! It goes right to my hips!

Christine, I would never say anything about beavers - I believe it was gopher mouth that I said...

Hey, Jenna, you should write sales pitches for a living! That was a great blurb for why you should win ;-)

Hiya Linda! Great to see you! Jane in black leather???!!! Eeek, my mind boggles! Actually I think her perception and intelligence means that whatever era she was writing in, she'd be creating masterpieces. That's a really interesting comment about her world being safe - you're onto something there. It is safe - it's that dream England of villages and gentlemen and ladies in beautiful dresses, isn't it? Although I don't think she's a wimp at all and she doesn't shy away from darker things, but it's often subtext. The surface is this beautiful glittery jewel box.

Anna Campbell said...

Christine, I find the Dickens adaptations on TV much more palatable too. I have read A Tale of Two Cities and I did quite like that one - Sidney Carton had quite a lot in common with Matthew although Matthew thank goodness keeps his head in the end! I'm sorry I missed the recent Bleak House one - it was supposed to be really good. But it was on when I was overseas.

Cassondra said...


What an EXCELLENT topic. I do love Jane Austen. Persuasion is the one I've spent most time on, and that's because a friend and I used that book to teach "Genre Writing for Publication" at the local universtity over a winter intersession course a year or so ago. So I had to go back to that one.

I haven't read ALL of her work, but I guess Persuasion is my fav at the moment. I think people don't read or perhaps don't "get" Jane in the present because of the writing style and language. Once you get used to contemporary reads--even historicals--which are much tighter and straightforward, it's hard to go back to the wordy verbiage and the round-about way of getting to things.

Susan, I think that's part of the whole "and there ensued a most interesting conversation..." thing. I noticed that about her as well, and yes, from the standpoint of a modern reader, it does leave you panting and disappointed (or it does me, anyhow) but there were just some things that would have gotten her ostracized or hung or burned or something, and like dropping the F-bomb in a category novel, I'm thinking she didn't because she knew she couldn't get away with it.

What I love about her is what's already been said--her portrayal of the human imperfections, the frailties, and the depth of emotions I get from her characters. All this at a time when people preferred to be "painted" by all artists in a positive light, to have blemishes ignored, and the culture of the day looked kind of squinty-eyed at any person who told the truth.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Okay, last question first, I have seen two versions of Pride and Predjudice, my fav Darcy is Colin Firth, the man just gives me palpitations looking at him. His interpretation of the role just made it real for me.
My favorite film adaptation is Emma, mostly because that was my very first exposure to Jane Austen. I am so torn between the versions of that movie. I could not pick a fav version on that one at all.
I have yet to read all of her books, I am still working on getting them all.
Persuasion is the book I am most anxious to read. I have only seen one adaptation and I was slow in catching up to what was happening. Since I have not gotten to read that book yet I felt like I was coming into the middle of a movie with no one to tell me how it started. I came to really appreciate Anne's emotions once I got into it. I was not enamoured of Captain Wentworth for a while but that changed as well.
To me Jane Austen's works are so well loved is because it is not a modern day author trying to write in that era, there is no chance of a contemporary thought coming into the book because at that time, she was writing contemporary. I think she would be shocked by this day and time, but I also believe she was a very forward thinker for her timeline so after a bit of a struggle, yes, she would slide right in and run with it all.

Anna Campbell said...

Cassondra, how did you use Persuasion as part of a genre teaching course? Seems like a really interesting choice!

Actually, another reason why I think she's survived the test of time is that she does have this satirical element to her work. You're right about her unflinching depiction of the truth.

Dianna, that's really interesting what you say about us loving the books because they're a genuine window into the past. I think you're so right and that's an aspect I hadn't considered. They're accessible to a modern audience but true to their times all in one go. No wonder people love them. Thanks for your wonderful comment!

Caren Crane said...

Dianna, you are so right about Persuasion! It seems like it needs a prequel, where we would get to see Anne rejecting her love for all the wrong reasons. *g* It would make her finally accepting Captain Wentworth so much more poignant, I think.

Just knowing what she had and then seeing the sad outcome of her decision to wait for a "better offer" would be so profound. Then again, Austen metes out the sadness so smoothly. You see Anne's sadness in the envy of her sister's position, her jealousy that her sister has children while she has none. We see that Anne would have made a far better mother than her sister did, as well. Her loneliness and regret are almost secondary characters in "Persuasion".

I am off to put that movie on my wish list. It needs a re-watching forthwith!

Anna Campbell said...

Caren, what a beautiful analysis of Persuasion. It's so true, isn't it? Her regret is like this huge shadow over the book and that makes her happy ending all the more poignant.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Caren, as much as I love P&P and Emma (sorry Anna, I really did like Emma) I think Persuasion got my attention the most and it is the one of her stories I cogitate on the most. I just have a need to know how the whole thing started. I think the draw to Persuasion is that is a "giver" everyone turns to Anne for answers, for strength, for sympathy, but she has no one, she is like a piece of favorite furniture, always there to support and do what is expected but never appreciated. I am moved to tears everytime.

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Geez, I hope everyone can read that previous post, I was having major problems with getting my thoughts into writing.

Anna Campbell said...

Dianna, I certainly GOT your previous post. And that's one aspect of Persuasion that always makes me cry too. She's worth a million of all these people she sacrifices herself for and none of them value her. And yet she passed up the chance of happiness with her soul mate because she let these self-centered people talk her round. It's a realistic scenario - she's quite young when it happens and she obviously likes to keep people happy. But that she does it at the sacrifice of her own chance of happiness is just so sad. I think it's an incredible book. And it's OK - you're allowed to like Emma ;-)

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

LOL Anna, I am glad because Emma got it all started, without Emma I would never have seen Persuasion. The book and the adaptation are both on my wish list. Of the two versions of Persuasion which is your favorite? I have only seen the 1995 adaptation so on my wish list that is the one I listed.

Cassondra said...

Anna wrote:

Cassondra, how did you use Persuasion as part of a genre teaching course? Seems like a really interesting choice!

I think we both (teachers) would have chosen P and P if we'd had the course time to do it. We actually chose Persuasion because it was shorter.

We taught the major genres--and discussed the differences between mystery, SciFi & Fantasy, Suspense, etc, and Romance took several days. We divided the genres up by market share--and divided the days we gave the genres accordingly. Of course, Romance has the largest market share and thus got the most days--so I taught that segment of the course.

In each genre, we required works from the "mother or father of the genre" and I wanted to do a "beginnings of the genre" example for romance. So Persuasion was it. It was hard having to pick from all the possibilities. The other teacher wanted Austen, and I had no arguments with that. I then used a Suzanne Brockman, a Sherrilyn Kenyon, and a Nicole Byrd to do the major modern sub-genre's. Anyhow, Austen was my "roots of the genre" discussion point.

Persuasion won out solely because of its shorter length. Isn't that sad? I do love it though. I wasn't disappointed in the choice, though given more time I would have done P&P and shown one of the film adaptations too.

Anna Campbell said...

Dianna, I've only seen the one with gorgeous Ciaran Hinds. It's a movie length one. I must keep an eye out for the other one. Actually I really like ALL the Jane Austen adaptations because each of them has something that I would put in my ideal JA. I love Judy Dench in the movie version as Lady Catherine. She's got that snakelike viciousness that really suits the character - which given what a nice person JD is in real life, or at least seems to be when you see her interviewed, shows you what a good actress she is. I loved the mother from the movie, too - the one from the BBC adaptation is a bit too close to a Dickens character for me. But the Mr. Collins in the BBC one is fantastic, as I said, and the Pemberley scenes from that are classic. I think that's probably a definition of a classic - something that's so rich, it can handle multiple contrasting adaptations.

Anna Campbell said...

That makes perfect sense, Cassondra. What a great course that sounds! Actually I'm glad you picked Persuasion - when people talk about Austen, usually they stop at P&P. P&P, of course, is utterly marvellous but I think it's a book people often come to anyway. Persuasion is slightly more off the beaten track.

Gannon Carr said...

Anna, although Colin still owns my heart as Mr. Darcy, I must agree with you that MM upped the passion factor in the movie version. After he strides through the mist--insert *sigh*--to find Lizzie, and he tells her "you've bewitched me body and soul." Mmmm! I just love that scene. Makes my heart go pitter patter just thinking about it! :)

Keira Soleore said...

Donna and Amy: I liked Becoming Jane very much, because I took it as a fictional story about a woman called Jane, not Jane Austen, tbe author whom we all know. I liked the two main actors very much as well as the supporting cast. I particularly liked details such as changing of horses at inns and inside of a London town home, which I haven't seen pictures or videos about; till then I had to imagine it.

Since we're talking about all things Jane, did anyone read the book and/or see the movie The Jane Austen Book Club? What did you think of that?

Foanna: Yes, I loved the portrayal of Mr. Collins. "What excellent boiled potatoes." :)

Keira Soleore said...

Foanna, I loved Beatrice Potter, too. I was leery going in thinking Renee Zellweger with her pouty lips...but I was very pleasantly surprised at how good she was as were the entire cast.

Kirsten: You don't like Mr. Darcy? He's a prig? Weel, yes, in the beginning third. But see, he's really a misunderstood, shy, awkward person who tries to hide that behind pride. Especially after seeing Matthew McFadyen's depiction of him, I ADORE the man. He can ring my bell any day. And hey, Chatsworth is nothing to sneeze at. :)

doglady said...

Keira, he can ring your bell AFTER he rings mine. MAYBE!!! The proposal in the rain and that almost kiss. SWOON!! I really enjoyed Becoming Jane- very poignant and sweet. I have to agree with Anna C. I have read all of Thomas Hardy and I just don't get it. Of course I have read Madame Bovary in the original French and Anna Karenina in the original Russian and let me just say I HATED THOSE HEROINES!! Even if the ending is not necessarily the one I would choose, if I have gone to all the trouble of reading a novel I want SOMETHING that makes it worth the read. Jane Austen ALWAYS delivers!

Anna Campbell said...

Oh, Gannon, the bewitched me body and soul scene. Sigh! Gasp! Drool! You're right - sure worked for me too ;-) Hey, is this your first time with the bandits? If so, a bit mushy welcome! Pull up a chair and get a beer and hey, I think they're cooking up something nice over on the barbecue!

Keira, I'm so hopelessly out of touch. I didn't read the JA Book Club - but I notice there's a film coming out of it next year. Oh, and Chatsworth! Sigh. But an even bigger sigh to Haddon Hall down the road where the set the new Jane Eyre. Now that's a GREAT BBC adaptation. And Toby Stephens is to die for. I really think my next tribute is going to be good old Charlotte B! I've had such a good time being a fan girl of JA!

Anna Campbell said...

Pam, isn't that true about a happy ending? When our characters have been through all that suffering, they DESERVE cosmic justice! One of the many profound things that Jennifer Crusie said is that people read romance to get emotional justice. And there's something about a happy ending to a good book that delivers that. I've read both AK and MB in translation (you are one of my cleverest friends, Doglady!) and both left me with this horrible flat feeling. Because neither really deserved what happened to them. Now, I know that's often the case in life. But hey, I've got life. Give me fiction for my emotional justice!

doglady said...

I do love that term "emotional justice." It is the perfect description of why I read romances. My complaint was that after I slogged thru those two books in a foreign language no less which took far more time than either of the books deserved I STILL didn't get emotional justice. I wanted to push both of those ladies in front of a train and tell the men to get over it!

p226 said...

and the culture of the day looked kind of squinty-eyed at any person who told the truth.

I don't think that's limited to "the culture of the day." People often don't like the truth. People sometimes look squinty-eyed at the truth especially when it's a true reflection of themselves.

FilmPhan said...

Anna - I think what might have put me off the book was that I saw the movie first and fell in love with it. I love today's screen interpretation of the book. When I started the book, I thought it sort of dragged on. An example, the letter that Darcy wrote to Elizabeth explaining why he took Charles away and left the country area was way too much. I ended up just skipping that part. And then I'm so used to reading something that's more blunt, I guess, with how the characters are feeling expressed plainly. I don't like having to guess and wonder what's happening between the characters. I want to see it and feel it with them.

I don't know, I could be completely wrong about all this but that was my impression when I read it a few years ago. Maybe I should crack it open again.

Caren Crane said...

P226, you and my dh could talk about this forever! People often do not care for the truth, but this is especially true when it reflects badly on them. I have many, many coworkers who are completely convinced that nothing they do negatively impacts the environment. They are vested in this truth, because it makes them feel better about the choices they make.

I think this is true of us all in every situation. We all need to be the hero of our own story. When we encounter truths that conflict with our own story, we must rationalize our actions or twist the facts until they line up with what we believe. I'm sure this was as true in Jane's time as it is in ours. *g*