Jane Austen: Hollywood’s new it-girl

No, somebody?s looking for the other end of that spectrum. Denied, unrequited, against all odds, empire waist and long tailcoat love.

Something a little Austenesque.

Never mind that Jane Austen died 200 years ago, she?s the it-girl in Hollywood this year. First, it was ?Becoming Jane,? the film version of Austen?s own unrealized relationship with Tom Lefroy, who may have been her inspiration for all those tall, dark and handsome heroes she created for her heroines.

The truth to the story is debatable, since the only details Austen left were in letters written to her sister Cassandra. And most of those were destroyed after Jane died.

But I don?t care. The movie had everything you could ask for in a love story. A head-strong girl with an overbearing mother meets a suitable (or not so suitable) boy, followed by passion, friction, tension, submission, and denial.

Oh come on, you gotta love that.

Right behind is another movie based on a book (thanks, no doubt, to the book club boom) called ?The Jane Austen Book Club,? about a reading group that assigns one Austen book to each member.

I have a feeling the book club members? love and life issues will overshadow Austen?s, but I hope it shows how her words are still relevant, even if they sometimes need to be translated into today?s short and sweet language.

I had hoped these movies would motivate me to read all of her novels. I?ve started, stopped, and started ?Pride and Prejudice? for the last time.

But it?s not going to happen without effort for a skimmer. I scan and speed read my way through books, skipping over a sentence here, a short paragraph there. This method works all right for plowing through most of the book titles that my book club sisters and I have decided on.

But in an Austen novel?worthless. You don?t scan her books, you feel them.

I hate to sound like an open-mic-night bard, but really, there?s a lot of feeling to digest. It?s no soap opera. If you miss one paragraph, or even one sentence, you?re lost.

Still I know, some realists don?t get it. Dave Harvey is author of a marriage advice book called ?When Sinners Say I Do.? I?ve only read excerpts so far, but he uses Jane Austen as an example of the differences between (most) men and (most) women.

I admit, he makes some good points, like: ?In the world of Jane Austen, stories end at the altar, just when reality is about to come knocking.?

Funny. It doesn?t weaken the attraction of Regency countryside courtship, but still, funny.

Of course marriage isn?t an Austen novel. But her ideas of it are what every girl, at some point, imagines it could be.

With all the truths of Austen?s relationship with Lefroy buried with her, it makes me wonder what she hid. Makes me wonder if there was more to their passing romance than anyone ever knew.

I like to think so.

I?m a sucker for that kind of thing, being a girl and all.