On Her 237th, A Jane Austen Soiree

Austen Soirée

Today we’re linking up with Maria Garzia and My Jane Austen Book Club as part of the Jane Austen Soiree honoring Miss Austen’s 237th birthday! We’ve picked out our favorite Austen passages to share with you, and what makes them our favorites. 

Sarah Jessica’s favorite from Pride and Prejudice:

“When her [Elizabeth Bennet] mother went up to her dressing room at night, she followed her, and made the important communication. Its effect was the most extraordinary; for on first hearing it, Mrs. Bennet sat quite still unable to utter a syllable. Nor was it under many minutes that she could comprehend what she heard, though not in general backward to credit what was the advantage of her family, or that came in the shape of a lover to any of them. She began at length to recover, to fidget about her chair, get up, sit down again, wonder, and bless herself.”

For one of the most talkative Austen characters, Mrs. Bennet is stunned speechless at Elizabeth’s acceptance of Darcy’s proposal. Perhaps, an unusual choice for my favorite Austen passage, but this one scene always makes me laugh. For a woman who always has something to say, she stops talking, however, brief. Too bad, Mr. Bennet missed it.

Veronica Monique’s favorite from Sense and Sensibility:

“…Were it possible, she should say it must be Edward. She looked again. He had just dismounted; –she could not be mistaken;–it was Edward. She moved away and sat down. ‘He comes from Mr. Pratt’s purposely to see us. I will be calm; I will be mistress of myself.’

In a moment she perceived that the others were likewise aware of the mistake. She saw her mother and Marianne change colour; saw them look at herself, and whisper a few sentences to each other. She would have given the world to be able to speak–and to make them understand that she hoped no coolness, no slight, would appear in their behavior to him;–but she had no utterance, and was obliged to leave all to their own discretion.

This is where my heart goes out to Elinor who has been up to this point a pillar of strength in the eyes of everyone around her, and here she is so suddenly frazzled that she’s muttering a pep talk to herself in full view of her mother and Marianne who are not accustomed to seeing Elinor in such a state…and over a man! I so wish I could hear what those few sentences were that they whispered to each other  at this unprecedented moment of near insensibility.

One of the things Jane Austen did very well was establishing her characters so that when they deviate from their established behavior we are given a humorously human moment.

Happy Birthday, Jane Austen!

*Photo provided by Maria Garzia.

Be sure to check out all the other wonderful tributes.


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