2012: The year we apply Jane Austen to our lives

31 Dec


I’ve been absent far longer than I intended, but 2012 will change it all. I’m going back to the basics, and I’m digging into her 6 novels (and a few extras) to garner as much life advice as possible. As a few of you know, a breakup at the beginning of December left me in a whirlwind and asking plenty of questions about my life. I always find myself turning to Jane when life throws me a tough change, and what better way to dig into her words than to get input from others?

I’m going to read each of her works, starting with Northanger Abbey, and I’m inviting you to join me. I took a class on Jane Austen two years ago as an English major in college, and though it was great, I hate to admit that I wasn’t able to participate as fully as I should have because of the other class and activities I had on my mind. However, I love the premise of the class: We investigated Jane’s heroines.

This time last year, I was in a funk at my old job (which soon led to another major life change – getting out of the journalism industry for a bit), and my roommate and I decided to read all of Jane’s works and talk about the heros and heroines and what characteristics make a “perfect” guy or gal. I created charts for each book and put them on our living room wall (which got some great comments from our friends, especially guy friends. I’ll have to find them in my files and post them soon.) We got through a couple of the books, but then her schoolwork and my job took over, and we dropped it.

Now I’m determined. I need advice, and I need it now.

Jane’s work is timeless, and I know I’m not alone in saying this. In fact, it could be the main reason we all love her so much. As you read along with me, feel free to toss in any ideas or questions you have. I’ll be looking at the heroines, the heros and anything I can deem “life advice,” which carries a very loose interpretation.

I’m planning to read the books in the order she wrote them. I want to be a writer, so I’m always fascinated with the way writers’ voices develop over time. I’d also like to see how Jane’s characters and thoughts change over time as well. This works out perfectly to start with Northanger Abbey in January because the book has 31 chapters for the month’s 31 days.

Then we’ll cover the other 5 books February through November and some odds and ends (Sanditon, Watsons, Lady Susan) in December. I’ll post a more specific schedule as we approach each novel. For January, I’m getting a late start, but I hope to work ahead in the future so I can post with consistency.

Ready? 2012 is going to be a fantastic year, and if we keep up with Jane all year, we’ll come out as better people on the other end. I can feel it.


6 Responses to “2012: The year we apply Jane Austen to our lives”

  1. Austenite78 January 5, 2012 at 5:47 pm #

    I cannot wait to start this adventure with you and the rest of people participating in the site!!! It is going to be very interesting. I started working in my PhD thesis some years ago and I wanted to deal with the role of the female heroine in the novels. So I think what you pose is fantastic. I can learn a lot from the rest of you, and I can share what I already know about the topic (after long research hours at the British Library in London). Let’s start!!

    • Carolyn Crist January 5, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

      Cinta, thank you so much for your support! I’m glad that you have some experience with this subject. It also makes me nervous — hopefully my ideas won’t be too silly 😉

      Here we go!

  2. Jillian January 5, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

    I will have finished my first pass through all of Austen’s literature (including the unfinished novels & juvenelia) by the end of 2012. I still need to read the minor works, Emma and Mansfield Park. I’ve read Pride & Prejudice twice and just read Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility and Persuasion for the first time. Sense & Sensibility is my FAVORITE so far, but I love them all.

    A Jane Austen year sounds so excellent. Very best wishes to you, in this. 🙂

  3. Irene January 6, 2012 at 10:11 am #

    I’ve missed VJA during this period and I’m really happy to start this new year reading Jane Austen. I’m going to write my notes about Northanger Abbey and then the other books in the notebook Cinta send to me for Christmas (thank tou, Cinta!). So… let’s read!!!

    • Carolyn Crist January 6, 2012 at 10:25 am #

      Yay Irene!! I’m so glad you’re going to join in, and that’s where I’m writing my notes, too! Cinta’s just the best 😀

      I hope you’ve been doing well, Irene, and thanks for sticking in this with me. I’m sorry that VJA was gone for a bit : /

    • Austenite78 January 6, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

      Hey girls!! You really make me blush!! 😀 I am glad you are using the notebooks I sent you 😀 😀

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