My favorite book is…

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My favorite book is…

To say I have a favorite book is akin to saying I have a favorite chord on the piano. I hesitate to confess it because there are so many beautiful chords, so many that I cherish and thank God for (and if you’ve never thanked God for a chord because it resonated deep within your guts, you need to spend more time with your piano). Both are true, however: I have a favorite chord and I have a favorite book, but that certainly does not diminish[1] (a little chord humor for you) my love of other chords or books.

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”[2]

It sounds like a romance novel, doesn’t it? Okay, okay—Pride and Prejudice is a love story, but that’s certainly not all it is. Many have commented that Jane Austen’s work is brilliant for depicting the societal expectations of women during her lifetime, but she also shows us how men were expected to behave. She crafts a beautiful (and bizarre) tale about the Bennet family—two sisters who are young and flirtatious, a sister who is awkward and unsocial, two elder sisters who are rational beyond their years, a mother who strives to see them all safely married, and a father who always planned on having a son to provide for any of his unmarried daughters.

Further, it is a story of how these and other characters relate to one another, how they behave, why they behave, and how it affects their choices. Jane Austen was a brilliant observer of human nature, as evidenced by her crafting of the Bennets and all who encounter them!

She was also incredibly witty (perhaps more witty than a novelist ought to be), which I love, and is one of the few authors I’ve read more than once. In fact, C. S. Lewis (another favorite author of mine—sometime, we’ll talk about The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and why it has the perfect first sentence) once wrote:

“I’ve been reading Pride and Prejudice on and off all my life and it doesn’t wear out a bit.” [3]

It’s so true. You know, usually when I read a book a second or third time, I come away feeling like it wasn’t as good as the first time. For that reason (and because I am already in my thirties and don’t have an eternity to read all the books I want to have read before I die), I don’t usually read books more than once. Austen is different. Every time I read Pride and Prejudice, I learn something new about the characters and their behavior. My most recent read-through, I was astounded to realize that Mr. Darcy exhibited feelings for Elizabeth from almost the beginning—and then the recognition that all of his actions and behaviors toward Elizabeth and others coincide with those feelings.

Austen really is my favorite author, and Pride and Prejudice really is my favorite book. I love many authors with a geeky sort of love, and I cherish their books and words as if they were my own; but Austen is different somehow.

I suppose she has the same affect on me as a D2. Something inside of me resonates with what she writes.

All my love,

Aunt Sarah

[1] A diminished chord has a flattened third and fifth.

[2] Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Doubleday and Company, Inc, 1945) 3

[3] Lyle W. Dorsett and Marjorie Lamp Mead, C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children (New York: Touchstone, 1995) 37

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