This has been the longest Austen in August I’ve ever done. So much so that it’s taken until December for me to be done. There are lots of reasons why the Austening just couldn’t stop and the main one is that I’ve always found reading Jane Austen to be very good for the health. The past few months have been rather tumultuous for me behind the scenes – I went back to work part-time after a year of maternity leave, my son caught every bug he could find while at nursery, a long friendship drew to a painful but unsurprising close and on the national level, it’s fair to say that I find the state of the country to be … upsetting. Through it all, I have been so grateful for Jane Austen and all who sail with her.
This year’s Austen in August has had some real surprises. I set out to read a list of ten but ultimately abandoned The Particular Charm of Miss Austen on the basis that I was 53% of the way in and hadn’t got to the charm bit yet. I’ve puzzled over my own Austen obsession with my personal Austen Challenge. I’ve found biographical fiction that I actually like via The Jane Austen Project and Miss Austen. I’ve also discovered how much I really love Northanger Abbey and Mansfield Park. I even dabbled in some utterly hilarious Austen erotica. What I’ve enjoyed most of all though is where the reading has led me. Each time I do Austen in August, I come away seeing Austen in a completely different way to before. This year has definitely been the one where I realised that whether or not Austen ever experienced physical sex with another person, she most definitely had views on the topic.
If I’m honest, I could probably just carry on Austening indefinitely. In fact, I already have a reading list of ten books drawn up for the next time it rolls around. But I think it’s time for a little step change. Christmas is coming, a list of my favourite books of the year is in order and I still have the review backlog challenge to tackle. I’m also signed up to do a Brontë a Day in May for the Facebook group A Walk Around the Brontë Table and I have a whole reading list for myself on that one too. There may be a couple more discussion posts that could peep out in the next little while but otherwise, I’m ready to move on for now.
Thank you so much to everyone who joined in – this has been a wonderful few months on the site and it has been really amazing to hear so many different people’s views on my favourite author of all time. The more I read her and about her, the more amazed I am by her genius.