Aug 062011

Jane Austen for Everyday

One of the things I like best about Jane Austen is how very quotable she is. It helps, of course, that my husband has seen (and liked!) all the adaptations, and that my children have been raised to think of Jane Austen as a member of the family, albeit in a distant-cousinish sort of way. (Their idea of fun is to get dressed up and stage a ball for themselves, or to get me to quiz them on their knowledge of characters from the various novels. There’s nothing to worry about in that, is there?) Nothing inspires quotation like being around people who “get it.” Whether quoting Austen’s books or their film adaptations, there are quotes to suit any occasion.

For example, when I had three children aged three and under who all wanted to sit on my lap, I was frequently heard to say, “My dear, you tumble my gown.” And I still say, when they boys are sword fighting in the house, “You have no compassion on my poor nerves!”

When illness strikes, it is always appropriate to murmur, “I am so ill I can hardly speak.”

“Happy thought indeed!” and “I am all astonishment!” are wonderful exclamations to use when your four year old has the idea of putting all her toys away or drawing you a picture of a dinosaur. Even better is when she starts saying those phrases to friends and acquaintances. You get the reputation of being a very literate family. And a little odd.

My husband and I also frequently have the following exchange when I check the emails:

Me: Are there any messages, sweetheart?

Him: None

Me: No message at all, no cards?

Him: None, Ma’am!

Sometimes the quotes that come to mind are a little disconcerting; when I sprained my ankle the first thought I had was “A lame carriage horse threw everything into confusion.” Yes, yes, I ought to have thought of poor Marianne Dashwood’s injury. What does it say about me that my first identification was with the horse?

In late spring I always think “Though May, a fire in the evening is still very pleasant.” As a Californian transplanted to Ireland, I’m always puzzled that the Westons and their friends could have found this surprising enough to remark on. To my mind, the British Isles are always cool enough for a fire in the evening, no matter what the time of year!

I have a friend whose family custom is to utter, “Napkin, sorry!” whenever they forget an item—car keys, a book, or a piece of mail.

There are a few quotes I haven’t yet had the courage to use with people outside the family. But I’m panting to use “Did I mention we are having a new drain installed?” when I want to change the subject. Or when speaking of a female bossy-boots I could say, “She is a vicountess!” I don’t really give myself any credit for exclaiming “Pork!” at the supermarket, but I will feel very smug indeed if I can find a way to work “Fix, commit, condemn yourself!” into a conversation.

You see how useful Jane Austen can be? A thorough knowledge of her works means that you will never be at a loss for words. Or if you are, you can always fall back on “It left me speechless, quite speechless, I tell you, and I have not stopped talking of it since.”

Please share: What Jane Austen quotes do you find yourself using all the time?

Barbara Cornthwaite is the author of George Knightley, Esquire: Charity Envieth Not. Her new book, George Knightley, Esquire: Lend Me Leave, will be released August 25!


Jan 152010

Jane Austen’s Emma from Mr. Knightley’s Perspective

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Author

George Knightley, wealthy, mature, and compassionate, seemed to be a very successful member of the landed gentry of Highbury; and had lived in the world for nearly thirty-seven years with little to disrupt his peaceful and quiet existence. That is until he realizes that his little sister-in-law Emma Woodhouse, is no longer a little girl but a lovely young woman whom he greatly cares for…

Are you inclined to learn more about this admirable and benevolent gentleman? Would you like to gain a greater understanding of his thoughts and feelings?

Author Barbara Cornthwaite delivers a pleasing and absorbing augmentation of Jane Austen’s Emma, told from the perspective of Mr. Knightley, in her wonderful series George Knightley, Esquire! This novel, the first of two, begins just as Emma did with the Weston’s nuptials and closes with Frank Churchill’s departure from Highbury. So be prepared to not have a completed story at the end of this book and to have an intense desire to obtain book two right away! Continue reading »