I’m a Jane Austen, Jane Eyre Kind of Girl

Otherwise titled: A Moody Girl and Her Books.  

Recently I was thinking about the books I read as a teenager.  I read once that people who think they only have one life to live have never read a book.  This particular statement brings to mind those years between the ages of eleven and sixteen, when my books became portals into unknown worlds.  Of course, a good book still feels like an open door, but it’s different when you’re thirteen.  You haven’t been on your own adventures yet.  More importantly, you’re still in the process of shaping who you’ll become.  Naturally you identify with the protagonists in your novels.

And it all began with Nancy Drew. 

My collection of Nancy Drew books weren’t the yellow bound 1959-editions most people own today.  They had the original dust jackets, which pictured Nancy as tall and thin with bobbed hair and knee-length dresses reminiscent of the 1930’s.  Nevermind the improbability of a sixteen year old girl possessing endless freedom, a sporty blue roadster, and the ability to unearth and solve criminal cases entirely on her own – ask any woman and she’ll tell you she was in love with Nancy Drew at one point in her life (and we were all equally distraught when we discovered the name Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym).  After all, Nancy had adventures just like the Hardy Boys, and she did it in heels, no less.  My absolute favorite was The Secret of the Old Clock, in which Nancy risks her life to find a missing will and help her new friends, Grace and Allie Horner (changed to Hoover in a later edition).  

Then came Anne of Green Gables, who lived in an entirely different world from Nancy Drew but proved herself to be a classic heroine nonetheless.  Considering her desperate attempt to find acceptance in a new life, not to mention her battles with friendship, love, and red hair, it isn’t difficult to see why so many melodramatic teenage girls identified with Anne.  “My life is a perfect graveyard of buried hopes.  That’s a sentence I read in a book once, and I say it over to comfort myself whenever I’m disappointed in anything.”  You understand.  I was also fond of L.M. Montgomery’s  Emily of New Moon series, although I didn’t love Emily quite as much as I loved Anne.

Then, of course, there were all the books by Louisa May Alcott.  I’m fairly certain I’ve read every single one of them, including Little Women, Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom, Jack and Jill, An Old Fashioned Girl, and even her racier novels like A Long Fatal Love Chase (originally published under the pseudonym A. M. Barnard.  I wouldn’t actually recommend this one to young impressionable girls).  Although I loved each of these books in turn, the one I loved best was Little Women.  I wanted to be Jo March, defy social restrictions and live by my pen (or whatever the equivalent of this would be in the twenty-first century).  She was my hero.  

And finally there was Jane Austen (no teenage girl book review would be complete without her).  Austen’s work compares and contrasts the lives of several women within a society that placed heavy restrictions on females in general.  I identified most with Elizabeth Bennet, of Pride and Prejudice, but I loved Eleanor of Sense and Sensibility best.  I disliked Emma as a literary character, but Gwyneth Paltrow convinced me to give her a second chance and I like her much better now.  Also, I highly recommend the movie The Jane Austen Book Club (from which I’ve borrowed the quote for my blog post title).

P.S. Don’t forget to tell me what you read as a teenager.

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  1. I can see that we have a lot of literary friends in common. =D Fun reading through your post! Thanks for the comment on mine.

  2. I never did fall in love with Austen. I thought she was dry and distant, although her story lines are fabulous. It's unusual for me to like movies better than books, but for Austen, it's true.

    However, Jane Eyre was entirely different and I will forever LOVE that book with my whole heart.

    Probably, at least.

    Anne of Green Gables-- I still LOVE that series. :]

    Fun post, L. :D

  3. Reading your posts about childhood books is like stepping back in time for me. I like it.

    I haven't read a book for enjoyment in months. I have to change that!

    Living A Bona Fide Life

  4. Did you know Carolyn Keene was a pseudonym for several Ghostwriters?

  5. А! itu sangat menarik untuk dibaca. Saya ingin mengutip posting Anda di blog saya. Hal ini dapat? Dan Anda et account di Twitter?

  6. I loved Nancy Drew as a young girl of 12, not the original series, but the Nancy Drew Mysteries of the 80s. I had no idea Carolyn Keen was a pseudonym for a host of ghost writers until I wrote an article on my favourite children's books in response to your seeded buzz! http://wealie.co.uk/news-views/my-favourite-childrens-books/

    I love Jane Austen, my favourite has to be Persuasion as it is in my opinion her most mature piece and a wonderful story of love won and lost and then rediscovered. Not to mention much of it is set just down the road from where I live in Bath, England.

  7. aww i started with nancy drew, too! my cousin had a whole collection and she shared them to me when i was around 9 years old, i think. i also loved anne of green gables. i have the whole anne shirley series, and i never get tired re-reading it over and over again.

    oh, and jane austen's my favorite author! =)

  8. Just wondering, since you're a Little Women fan, did you think Laurie should have ended up with Jo?

  9. When I was younger I did. Now, I love Professor B. just as much if not more than Laurie, so I'd have to say no.

    If Jo had ever shared Laurie's romantic feelings, however - I think it would have complicated his marriage to Amy. As it was, it felt more like a boy becoming a man, and realizing he needed more than a playmate as a wife.

    But the whole idea of Jo and Laurie together is a tempting thought. ..an imaginary, alternate ending.

  10. Revisiting Jane Eyre now. Lovely character. Anything Jane Austen is like a quiet escape into the countryside. Exquisite.


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