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I wish I could remember more about the first time I read Pride and Prejudice. I recall the emotional bond I forged with the characters, the sense of experiencing the story with them, rather than as a reader with an open book. But I don’t remember my age, or how I came about to read Jane Austen’s fine novels. I wish I did.

“I cannot fix on the hour, or the spot, or the look or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.”

Since then, I’ve read nearly everything she’d written and watched most movies honoring her works. And it’s not just my love of the era that brings me to the conclusion she was a woman who transcended time. Her view of courtship, gender, and marriage remain meaningful and relevant. Her lovely turn of a phrase holds me enchanted, her characters are original, frank and refreshing and her heroes…well, Mr. Darcy is synonymous with Perfection.

“But for my own part, if a book is well written, I always find it too short.”

Affection, romance, and clever circumstance are interwoven into delightful adventures of true love. Do you have a favorite? I’m partial to Persuasion. The movie version by the BBC is wonderful and Ciaran Hinds could not be more entrancing as the hero. But it’s hard to pinpoint just one and I’m apt to change my mind on a whim after rereading any of her breathtaking moments.

“In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Oh, the emotion and romance. Austen’s flair for flirtation, passion, and social convention still ring true today. Her views on marriage continue to make sense, and her insistence that women lead independent, educated lives remains an anthem. One wouldn’t expect such progressive thinking from a hopeless romantic born in 1775, but her masterful works have endured centuries and continue to offer life lessons. Do you agree? Have you a favorite Austen novel?

“It isn’t what we say or think that defines us, but what we do.”

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