Reasons Why We Stay in Jane Austen’s England

Megan sent me a link to 13 Reasons You Wouldn’t Want to Live in Jane Austen’s England.  It’s hard to refute the horror of most of these things, although I find some of them (for example forced marriage) a tad spurious.  But, regardless of the dangers of 18th-19th century England, we still live there in in our imaginations.  Many of the 13 reasons apply to the  lower classes and, whether it’s right or not, these are not the people with whom we commune in our reading and writing.  We’re living with the gentry and the aristocracy as was Jane Austen when she wrote.

somersetWhen we live in Jane Austen’s England, we’re living upstairs, where the air is fresh and someone irons our newspapers and brings us tea.  We walk in the country and stroll through Hyde Park. We take in an exhibit at Somerset House. If want to do manual labor, we’ll go out in the garden and cut some flowers.  If we’re worried about what’s for dinner, we’ll meet with cook.  If our sheets need to be changed, we’ll consult the housekeeper.

LubscombeOur gentlemen are sitting in  Parliament (no doubt solving the problem of child labor), riding in the park, hunting, shooting, hanging out with friends at their club.  If we’re at our country estate, they’re meeting with their steward and caring for their land and their tenants.  They’re helping us host a house party. Or they’re  beside us, making sure we are supremely happy.

Yes.  This is fiction, where we rarely catch fire by standing too near to the hearth, we aren’t subject to poor medical attention and even worse dentistry, and we’d do anything rather than force a poor child to climb our chimney to clean it.  But, as we now have a choice about which Jane Austen’s England we’d prefer to live in, why ever would we choose the one in the Huffington Post?

About Myretta

Myretta is a founder and current manager of The Republic of Pemberley, a major Jane Austen destination on the web. She is also a writer of Historical Romance. You can find her at her website, and on Twitter @Myretta.
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3 Responses to Reasons Why We Stay in Jane Austen’s England

  1. Ella Quinn says:

    I would suggest the Huffington Post article is spurious in more ways than one. There are still unsafe medical procedures, people living in abject poverty, discrimination against segments of society. Yet many writers of contemporary fiction choose to write about billionaires.
    That is no different than writing about the ton. Tweeted and shared.

  2. Mainstream media seems determined we wallow in a world of gloom and doom and despair even in our reading habits. I’m not a Pollyanna. I know the world is unkind and there is tragedy and injustice everywhere. However, the only stories that make it into the news are the horrible ones, the sensational ones, the ones that show us at our ugliest, the ones that stir up trouble between races, political parties and religions. It makes sense for them to do so. After all, more unrest and vitriol sells more magazines, brings more viewers.

    And reviewers in mainstream papers, magazines and internet news sites seem to think we need to read books that beat us over the head with moral injustice, depression, gloom and doom and most important – REALITY.

    I don’t read to immerse myself in reality. I live it every day. I am a single woman living on what I make at Walmart, helping out my mother who lives on social security, taking care of my rescued dogs and trying to make certain I pay off all my debts before I hit 65 so I can afford to live on social security when the time comes. I own five acres of land and a thirty year old trailer free and clear and that is the sum total of my retirement plan.

    I don’t need to read about reality. I need FANTASY !! I need HEA, polite society, stately homes in the country, glittering ballrooms, smart women, tough men and a world that doesn’t include constant reminders of what a horrible country America is and how ignorant, racist, violent and uninvolved society is as it circles the drain of civilization.

    Hmm. That all sounds a bit harsh. Forgive me. I had a rough day at work yesterday. Thank God school is starting back this week!

  3. diane says:

    I think you nailed it, Myretta. Yes, that is why we read books said in the Austen era.

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