It’s almost Memorial Day weekend here in the States, which is the unofficial summer kick-off. Barbecues will fire up, pools will open, and school kids enter the homestretch of the school year, if they’re not already out.
In my house, Memorial Day means it’s time for the Great Jane Re-Read.
I first fell in love with Jane before I went to college. Like most women in the 90s, this is the image that led me to Jane:
Yes. I wasn’t drawn to Jane because I was naturally precocious–I was drawn to Jane because of Colin Firth.
There is nothing wrong with that!
During summer vacations, my best friends and I would spend a lot of time on hot summer days watching movies in one another’s houses. One day, Tiff whipped out her parents’ 6 volume VHS set of Pride and Prejudice. I’d been wanting to read the book, but I hadn’t–yet.
We spent an entire afternoon watching it. And it was glorious. So glorious, in fact, that I went to Barnes and Noble, got Jane, and preceded to read P&P in one big gulp. I used newly discovered Amazon to buy the rest of her books when I was in the hospital later that summer. I read them eagerly, voraciously, devotedly–I underlined passages and made notes in the margins. When I was in college, I chose English Lit as my specialization, and my senior thesis was on….yeah, that’s right….Jane. 🙂 Specifically, feminism in Mansfield Park, and no, that does not mean what you think it means. (In a nutshell, my argument was that we should all be nicer to Fanny Price, and that Jane liked that character, and we should too! I’m Team Fanny! And Hailey basically writes my thesis in blog format in that post. Sort of. Maybe one day I’ll share the thesis with y’all.)
So, every summer, I go back to Jane, starting Memorial Day weekend. This year I’ve started early. I’ve already re-read Sense and Sensibility (Hardcover Classics), and I’m reading The Annotated Northanger Abbey right now, so I’m also doing this out of order. 🙂 (The order is Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma, Persuasion, and Northanger Abbey.) I got a new copy of NA for my birthday, so I wanted to read that after S&S. (Yes, I do have multiple copies of Jane, including the gorgeous Penguin ones that are illustrated here. Seriously, they’re divine)
Why do I re-read her every summer? For a lot of reasons. I get more familiar with the books; they seep more deeply into me. And there’s things I notice every time that hit me differently. I’m not the same person I was the last time I read these books. I find myself liking or disliking certain characters more. For example, I really disliked Emma the first few times I read her book. Now, she’s getting better (but is she “handsome enough to tempt me?”).
I intend, as I re-read these over the summer, to write about each book after I finish it–a bit of Jane notes, if you will. And of course I’ll direct you to my Jane series that I did last year.
Will you join me in the re-read? Which Jane protagonist is your favorite? Which is your least favorite?