First and foremost, I’d like to express my appreciation to Maria Grazia for so graciously inviting me to post as a guest on her fabulous Web site!
My life in Austen began at age thirteen. Someone gave me a one-volume collection of all six novels, and in an idle moment, I started to read. I kept going, and going, till I had read all thousand-plus pages. Then I went back to page 1 and started again. Five times before I could be torn away to read anything else.
Like so many Janeites, I’ve often thought about why her work so obsessed me, and I think I have an answer, at least for myself. At that point in my life, I spent night after night attempting to construct a viable plan for how I could survive after running away from my guardian. As it turned out, I never did run away, because I never came up with a plan that seemed realistic. For me, Jane Austen was never about the romance (though that part is a lot of fun!)—her books have always been about how a young woman, finding herself in a world in which she is completely powerless, crafts a future that offers her security without loss of integrity. It’s about how you find that one place where you belong.