I really enjoyed watching "The Real Jane Austen" yesterday evening (on... BBC4! Again!).
The programme was a repeat from 2002, but I didn't have TV back then! :-)
It is presented by the wonderful actress Anna Chancellor, herself a descendant of the writer.
It always pisses me off when people dismiss Jane Austen's novels as mere romantic "Chick Lit" fodder.
One, the books are well written and entertaining.
Two, they are an engaging, witty, unflinchingly detailed description of a certain section of English society at the end of the 18th / early 19th Century. Therefore they are as good as historical novels as any other book.
Three - she gets human nature so very well, and her observations are still relevant now, still make us wince, laugh and - for some people - cry.
Four - and this is made very clear in the programme - Jane Austen was a pioneer, a courageous and intelligent woman with a very modern outlook for her times and strong opinions on the position of women in society and the "marriage market". I often found myself nodding and smiling in approval. The way she was allowed to pick any book from her father's library when she was a child reminded me of my younger self - she even read books "unsuitable for young ladies" like Tom Jones!
Then the writer in me felt for her as she courageously carried on writing, then stopped due depression and loss of stability, picked it up again and then wrote through illness; I really understand that, as I have only been able to settle down to write novels once I had found some security and stability in my personal life. To write well, I need a certain amount of quiet, a high degree of inner peace - otherwise my brain is full of parasitic interferences - self-reflection and the ability to be reclusive for several hours a day.
The Austenonly website talks about the programme really well, and therefore I refer you to it HERE.
I think therefore I write.
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