Guest posting for us today is Laurel Ann Nattress from Austenprose. Thank you for joining us!!
Many have been pressed into reading Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s most popular work in their early teens. I was not one of them. It was not introduced to me in my High School literature class, nor did any of my courses in Landscape Design at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo have it listed in the syllabus. I give my mother Carolyn full credit for introducing it to me at a very young age through the 1940 MGM movie adaptation starring Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson. The movie inspired me to investigate the original novel in a family edition of The Complete Novels of Jane Austen that graced our library, but I was far to young to comprehend the language and the droll humor and did not venture past the first few chapters. It would take another adaptation in 1980 before this Anglophile would become a Janeite. I can easily blame Jane’s beautiful language, or Mr. Darcy’s nobel mien, or Elizabeth Bennet’s conceited independence, but what really change the way I would look at fiction ever again was Austen’s incredible story.
The Masterpiece Theatre production of Pride and Prejudice starring David Rintoul and Elizabeth Garvie ran close to five hours and included much of Jane Austen’s original language. Swept away to Regency England, I was not only enchanted by ball rooms, bonnets and breeches, but by the wacky Bennets.I knew within the first fifteen minutes of the broadcast that Elizabeth Bennet and her nightmare family were now my new addiction. Poor Lizzy Bennet. I could totally relate. Her mother was a chattering busybody and her father totally disinterested. Sisters Lydia, a dangerous flirt, Kitty, vacuous twit, Mary, a pedantic prig, and Jane, a bit too nice for her own good. I had been raised in a family of three girls with no male heir. Our family apples did not fall far from the Bennet tree. I of course was the spunky, courageous and impertinent Elizabeth Bennet. Happy thought indeed! Since “a ladies imagination is very rapid” I had to read the original novel. I was not disappointed. Pride and Prejudice has remained my perennial favorite ever since.
Beside the Bennet/Nattress household similarities, why did I like the story ofPride and Prejudice so? Firstly it made me laugh, and “follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.” Secondly it allowed me to escape into a world of genteel civility where society valued grace, manners and good breeding. Thirdly, and most importantly, the heroine Elizabeth Bennet was a woman of words and action. She was strong, spirited and determined: offering opinions decidedly and scampering about the countryside gleefully. No one could pop her balloon and if they tried,she could throw a withering remarks deflating smug Caroline Bingley or arrogant Fitzwilliam Darcy in a flash. What woman in her right mind would not want to have her confidence, her energy and her sharp wit? I did!Who would not want to reread this novel every year of their life? Who indeed?
It would be many years, and all of Jane Austen’s novels later, before I would discover the Internet and hook up with fellow Janeites at the Republic of Pemberley, and still more until I was inspired to create my own Austen-inspired blog, Austenprose.com.I can now blame Jane and her witty, romantic novel for igniting my pride, prejudice and passion for her works. I enjoy blogging about Jane immeasurably and I credit Pride and Prejudice every day for introducing me to a magical world that I am compelled to return to by reading the many sequels that are now available.I never imagined that a new career would spring from this obsession. My own book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, makes its appearance this Fall. “I am the happiest creature in the world.” gushed Elizabeth Bennet to her aunt Gardiner on her engagement to Mr. Darcy, and I could not agree more.
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of Austenprose.com and the forthcoming short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It to be released by Ballantine Books on 11 October, 2011. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives near Seattle, Washington where it rains a lot.
GIVEAWAY- One lucky winner will be given a copy of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Leave a comment below if you’ve ever had a book lead you down a certain career path. Comments will be accepted through Wednesday March 30th at midnight. Winners will be picked at random and announced Thursday March 31st. Giveaway open to US & Canadian residents only.