Today we are please to introduce writer Susan Krause as she shares how her love of Jane Austen began with an unlikely reading suggestion from her father.
Dear Jane Austen, most admired and beloved writer,
My name is Susan, and I grew up in a household where there was no television. My parents realized at a young age that reading and imagination would be more beneficial to their four children than television. They were right!
Every month, my father gave us a book-of-the-month to read. He would tailor it to each child’s personality. I was a tomboy who would rather play in dirt than read a book. I grew up with my parents telling me that if I didn’t start acting like a girl and lady then no boy would want to marry me. Personally, at that time, I couldn’t have cared less. I just did my thing and continued down a road of rebelliousness. It came as a shock when my father presented me with my newest book of the month. He handed me Pride and Prejudice as my first adult novel. I was appalled! I didn’t want to read a romance novel! How absurd, I thought! I wanted to read books more like C.S. Lewis — fantasy and wonder. I did not want to read any book by some young girl named Jane Austen. I was intimidated by it, thought it would be ridiculous, and my word, how could a young girl from that century know anything about love!
From the first lines that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife, to Mr. Darcy’s proposal to Lizzy, to the rebellious behaviour of Lydia—it changed my life forever. Jane Austen helped me to understand romance, love and propriety as a young woman. Imagine the excitement when Dad told me Jane wrote another book called Sense and Sensibility. It is by far, to me, the best book written by Jane Austen. I cried from start to finish. It mimicked the exact relationship I had with my own older sister. She is for certain Elinor Dashwood and I was Marianne without a doubt. My sister was the voice of reason, and I always jumped into situations with my heart and not my mind. I was eventually able to view the adaptation that was written by Emma Thompson and whom also played Elinor in the film. Like the book, I was touched to tears how close it was to the novel and my own life. Jane Austen had won my heart.
I was fascinated by Jane Austen after reading her two novels. I was able to read all her novels and found each of them life changing. I read her biography, life stories, letters and anything I could get my hands on. All her heroines became my heroines! They were of a perfect character and understanding, of course – if only they would not allow themselves to be influenced by, and come under the control of men.
From all I learned about Jane, I started to live a simpler life, to be more feminine, to be more aware of those around me, to even wear dresses and to be careful of Willoughby-type men! Because of Jane Austen, I was inspired to read more, and interestingly enough, to write more. My father told me I could write stories just like Austen. She also grew up not having television and she wrote about the things she knew well.
I took my father and Jane’s influence seriously to heart and began my first set of short-story novels. They are not sequels to Austen but like her, I write about the world I knew growing up. My stories are of tales of young children playing, rebelling, learning and using their imagination to travel through time changing history for the better.
I thank Jane Austen with all my heart for changing my life. She played a major influence on me becoming more of a woman. She helped me to understand the faults, follies, loves, and terms of endearment in relationships. I also have become more empowered as a single woman. Jane never married but always surrounded herself with family, her good friends and her writings. As long as she could write, she was happy, she was content. Here I am today: single, a writer, content and an avid reader of books.
I thank my parents for introducing me to Austen and I thank Jane for writing the best novels of all times!
Regards and thank you, Veronica, for the opportunity to write about Jane Austen’s influence in my life.
Susan @bromiegirl on Twitter
*Photo: Interior Spread by portmanteaus, obtained through Flickr.