Sunday, August 28, 2011

It is a truth universally acknowledged ...

That romance novels kill brain cells.

A few years ago for the Miles City Book Club, we read a book called Jane Austen Ruined My Life by Beth Pattillo. I cannot remember the particulars of the book, except that it is all about a woman who basically runs away to London after her marriage ends, her reputation is ruined, she loses her job, and runs out of money...all in search of some artifact of Jane Austen's life that will help her regain all of her happiness. It is, as I recall, an adventure that eventually ends Happily Ever After, though not in the arms of some dashing Mr. Darcy impersonator.

I confess to loving Jane Austen's works. I confess further to loving them in their Hollywood portrayals, the best of course, being those starring Colin Firth. I pop in a DVD when I am in low spirits, and viola...happy place found. I confess even further that I have not read any of Jane's books since high school. I know. Please don't hate me, Lizzie.

Yesterday I stumbled upon my copy of Pride and Prejudice. Since it is so freaking hot here this weekend, I decided that minimal movement is in order and that rereading this beloved story is most definitely the best choice for forgetting all that is vexing me today. Yes, G, I am still looking at your materials...just not as fun when they stick to my sweating fingers. Anyway....

Unfortunately, being now a divorced woman of nine and twenty, to my horror I am rereading this epitome of romance with different eyes. Jaded, disbelieving eyes!

I have found in only the first 1/3 of the book:

1). I am sad to report that in Jane Austen's world, I would be totally and utterly screwed. Even if I were not divorced, I would already be considered a Spinster Aunt. Do pass me my smelling salts, Sister. And Sister, by the way, I would probably be living with you.

2). The quest for a husband appears to much more intriguing than marriage itself. Perhaps this is actually what Jane was trying to critique about her own society, since the majority of her characters, except of course the main heroines, are all predatory women hell bent on securing their futures with any man who would dance with them. And that is not a euphemism. It really is just dancing. Bummer.

3). Jane Austen is jaded too! I was delighted to read a very sarcastic paragraph penned by Miss Austen, a conversation between Elizabeth Bennett and her best friend, Charlotte Lucas:
"... Happiness in marriage is entirely a matter of chance. If the dispositions of the parties are ever so well known to each other, or ever so similar beforehand, it does not advance their felicity in the least. They always continue to grow sufficiently unlike afterwards to have their share of vexation, and it is better to know as little as possible of the defects of the person with whom you are to pass your life. " IS that what I did wrong??!! IS there any point in dating? IS this why arranged marriages and mail order spouses seem to work??!! MR. DARCY HAS DEFECTS?!?!

Instead of suspending all belief and immersing myself in a good story, I am being cynical! The SHAME!

Help! How do I get from this: a much more pleasing state of careless euphoria like this!??!

When did all my brain cells grow back?

my life ruining Jane Austen??!!

1 comment:

C said...

Jane Austin is almost as good therapy as chocolate. And seriously, YES. Colin Firth is the best. Best.
And I kind of thought that her cynicism was part of the charm?
But. Never say Mr Darcy has defects again. Blasphemy!