It is a truth universally acknowledged that Christian girls love Jane Austen. Most women love Jane Austen of course, at least if they have any sense, but Christian girls love her with a particular intensity.
1. We Christian girls are obsessed with marriage. Ok, maybe that’s a little harsh but we are far more preoccupied with matrimony than our unbelieving sisters. We also know the genuine alarm of being (gasp!) unbetrothed at (gasp!) one-and-twenty. That is some seriously scary stuff. After all,
“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” — Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
2. We are not surprised that, in Jane Austen novels, there are clergy everywhere. There’s Mr Ferrars, Mr Bertram, Mr Tilney, Mr Collins, Mr Norris, Mr Elton, Mr Hayter, Dr Perry, Mr Morland. (Think you’re pretty good with Austen and her clergymen? Try the quiz!)
3. We love that self-control is actually a virtue. In Jane Austen, we finally find a romance where getting swept over your feet by a totally inappropriate (but deliciously handsome, rugged and brooding) man is not A Good Thing. That’s basically the moral of every Jane Austen novel. (The possible exception is P&P where the moral is that it’s totes okay if he’s really rich, looks like Colin Firth and saves your family from certain ruin as well as.) As Miss Austen reminds us,
“I may have lost my heart, but not my self-control.” — Jane Austen, Emma
4. We think it’s normal that our heroines are constantly going to and from church. That’s completely normal! We also love that there’s no other religions, atheisms or (shudder!) non-conformists. God is in His Heaven, everyone is in one church (the Established Church thank you very much!) and all is right in the world. Contented Sigh.
5. We are relieved to find that neither sex nor sexual attraction is never described, spoken of or even alluded to. You never need to worry about stumbling across an overly awkward lovey-dovey scene with a little too heaving or sighing. In fact, Austen is notorious for avoiding all the juicy stuff. I mean, this is Mr Knightley’s proposal to Emma:
The subject followed; it was in plain, unaffected, gentleman-like English such as Mr. Knightley used even to the woman he was in love with, how to be able to ask her to marry him.
Bucket of cold water if I ever read one. (The exception is, of course, if you are a post-modern literary theorist or a BBC watcher… then sexual frisson is everywhere. Anyone keen for some wet shirts in ponds?)
6. We are not surprised that everyone seems to know everyone else. Christian communities are often close-knit. Of course Mr Darcy’s is Lizzy Bennet’s first cousin’s benefactress’ nephew; of course Captain Wentworth is Anne Eliot’s father’s new tenant’s wife’s brother; of course Edward Ferrars is Elinor Dashwood’s new neighbour’s daughter’s close friend’s secret fiance. If anything, we find it remarkable that it often takes our heroine’s at least halfway through the books to realise this.
7. We quite like the idea of quiet country life too, Mr. Ferrars.
- 8. We love that Jane Austen wrote prayers as well. Isn’t that lovely?
“Give us grace Almighty Father,
so to pray as to deserve to be heard,
to address Thee with our hearts as with our lips.
Thou art everywhere present,
from Thee no secret can be hid.
May the knowledge of this teach us to fix our thoughts on Thee,
with reverence and devotion that we pray no in vain.” — Jane Austen
9. We wish that virginity were still a socially recognised achievement. It would make it so much easier if our culture were like “wow, you’re a virgin in your twenties! Congrats!” rather than… “freak…” Oh, and we wish that being able to make conversation with the dull, shy, verbose, smelly and irritating was as treated as the hard-won skill it is. (You know Christian girls are good at this; we’ve had so practice at church suppers.)
10. We are used to reading long, complicated books with very small print, somewhat archaic language and often dusty covers. Though I can’t think why…
“But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.” – Jane Austen (probably talking about the Bible… or the Summa, hard to say.)