What would my life have been like without Jane Austen?
Since I’ve spent the last eleven years eating, drinking and sleeping Jane Austen, I hardly know how to begin to answer this question. I wouldn’t be writing, at least not for anyone else to see, if it weren’t for Jane Austen’s inspiration and the community of fans who love her. I never would have thought I had any particular talent for writing stories.
For my first forty years, Jane’s influence wasn’t as obvious, but it was there. As a teenager, her books were the first classics I read where I didn’t trudge my way through them out of a sense of obligation. Her characters came alive for me in a way others didn’t. I could see something of myself in them. She influenced the college I chose, a fiercely academic one stuffed with odd traditions like placing flowers at the feet of a statue of Athena for luck before an exam and extravagant May Day celebrations. Something about the place also drew Jane Austen fans, and for the first time in my life, I met other people who loved her books as much as I did. It was like uncovering buried treasure. Would it have been the same to meet other people who loved Shakespeare or Tolstoy? I don’t think so. There’s something about Jane Austen that draws people together.
And that’s another way my life would have been poorer without Jane Austen. I would never have known all the wonderful people I’ve met through my love of her books – people from different countries like Maria Grazia, people from all levels of society – I would have hated to miss meeting all those Jane Austen fans, both on line and in real life.
Thanks, Jane Austen!
More about Abigail Reynolds at Austen.Authors