There have been times when I have been accused of living in literature. Being an English teacher, I suppose this is partly true. I love reading. Reading shaped my career path and showed me ways to be a good mother. It created an interest in previously unknown places.
This is not what my family meant though. They say that I have unrealistic expectations of love and life through what I have read.
I have just completed my favourite book for the goodness-knows-how-many time. Pride and Prejudice has been my favourite book since I was seventeen. Jane Austen was the focus of my university dissertation. If I could transport back in time, it would be to this world with their manners and their social expectations and their love of ‘polite society’. Of course, being a farmer’s daughter, I would not have socialised amongst the middle class and probably would have been stricken with poverty and disease until I bettered myself with education. But, the fantasy still appeals.
I digress. I love Pride and Prejudice because the story is about learning from your mistakes. It’s about accepting that life isn’t perfect but you can find happiness if you open your eyes and heart to all sorts of possibilities. Typical of a good book, every time that I have read it over the past twenty years I find something different that relates to the way I’m feeling at that moment.
“Mr Darcy’s behaviour astonished and vexed her… ‘If he fears me, why come hither? If he no longer cares for me why silent? Teazing, Teazing man! I will think no more about him.'”
The book moves me because it describes how I feel at that moment. It portrays emotions and experiences that I have had. We can assume then, that Jane Austen was writing from her own experiences or at the very least, from those of someone close to her. It does not follow then that, being fiction, the feelings described are fantastical also. Books are written from experience or imagination: imagination is the first step towards action. So if I have romantic ideals entrenched in the books that I love, why is that wrong?
How many times have you heard a tale from a friend or family member who has then gone on to say “you couldn’t write this stuff, ” or the like? Reality can sometimes be more fantastical than fiction. The world is an amazing and magical place – anything is possible in time.
How many times have you visited a place for the first time and been blown away by the beauty of it: a beauty that words and photographs could not measure?
I read because it opens mind to possibilities. It shows me that, somewhere out there, other people have had similar experiences or the same views of what life can be like.
Pride and Prejudice portrays marriage in many different lights: some successful and others not. I have had an unsuccessful marriage. But I’m not giving in on my romantic ideals or the hopes that I will find someone who will love me and all my flaws but who also, without even realising it, encourages me to be a better person.