Shelf Conscious [3]: Jane And Elizabeth


In 2005, I discovered Jane Austen. I know, know. That’s fairly recent considering her books were published a couple of centuries ago. I saw this interview with Keira Knightley about a movie she was promoting at the time. I didn’t know what the movie was and frankly, didn’t really care. In the middle of the interview, they showed this clip:


I hadn’t a clue what they were going on about (the dialogue was too English and much too fast) but man, you can cut through the tension between them with a knife. She got my attention. I went on the internet and researched whatever I can about the movie. Since there was no way my husband would agree to see this period piece in the cinema, I knew I had to find another way. Again, this was pre-Goodreads era.  So when I found out about Pride & Prejudice was actually a novel, I knew I had to get it. But mostly, I was biding my time until I can get a copy of the movie. Thankfully, this was not a huge release so it was available just a few months thereafter.
Ever since then, I had to read all of Jane Austen’s books.  As far as literary heroes go, the dashing but recalcitrant Darcy was hard to forget. I thought for sure that it was going to be my all-time favorite. But I was wrong. Captain Wentworth made me forget Fitzwilliam Darcy’s existence almost in an instant.
Persuasion is probably the novel that made me fall in love with second-chance romances. Basically, Anne’s family was once rich who belittled Wentworth when he was a poor boy. Years later, the wheels have turned. He becomes a rich, decorated military man while Anne’s family is struggling to keep up appearances. Admittedly, the revenge wasn’t so sweet. Because for all the snobbery and attempts of hurting Anne, Wentworth suffered two-folds. And that is why Persuasion was my favorite of Austen’s novels.


Ah, but nothing could’ve prepared me for Mr. Thornton and Margaret. Looking back, I don’t remember how I discovered North and South. If Elizabeth Bennett is your homegirl because she’s all, girl-power and whatnot, Margaret Hale is the leader of their girl band. She is fearless as she is kind-hearted; charitable but opinionated. She fought for the rights of the poor people, but she didn’t stand for the violence they incite. This is England on the cusp of  Industrial Revolution when the rich who owned factories were against unionization. She’s a daughter of a pastor who served God and their fellowman. But she’s far from meek, and she wasn’t afraid to tell a man off. Unfortunately, that role was filled by Mr. Thornton on more than one occasion. You can tell he couldn’t decide whether to kiss her or strangle her or both. But I love the romance because, in the end, Margaret saved Mr. Thornton.

How did you discover Jane Austen?

Have you read North & South by Elizabeth Gaskell?

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