Hello. My name is Jenny and I'm addicted to reading Jane Austen and Jane Austen continuations/variations.
It started out innocently enough when I was a teenager and watched the 1940's version of Pride and Prejudice (with Greer Garson and Sir Lawrence Olivier) for the very first time with my mom. It was love at first viewing. In the 90's, Sense and Sensibility (with Kate Winslet and Emma Thompson) and Emma (with Gwynneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam) served to continue the addiction. I watched these films repeatedly, chuckling anew at witticisms found in each of the movies. ("Try not to kill my dogs", "You have taken up an idea and run wild with it", "I know how you like news", or "My friends say I certainly know how to make a sandwich", from Emma and almost all of Mr. Palmer's lines---such as "I came into Devonshire with no other view"---from Sense and Sensibility were some of my favorites.)
Then, about eight years ago I picked up a copy of Pride and Prejudice at the library for the very first time and was shocked to discover that --gasp! -- the movie had not portrayed the book correctly. Lady Catherine did not in fact approve of Darcy marrying Elizabeth?! How shocking! One by one I devoured each of Jane Austen's novels, reading each of my three favorites several times.
2005 brought about the release of the newest version of Pride and Prejudice (with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen). I was fiercely loyal to the only version I'd seen and railed against this version to anyone who would listen. But then, for some unknown reason, the urge to actually watch it came over me. Here is where the real addiction set in. For after watching it once, I had to watch it again. Over and over and over again. Whenever my husband and family are either gone or asleep, I find myself inexplicably drawn to my copy of the DVD. I've listened to the soundtrack repeatedly; indeed, it has become my go-to CD whenenver I am stressed and need some instant tranquility.
I fed my addiction for Austen by watching as many movie versions of the books as I could find (and stomach, for some of them are really horrible). Yes, I even subjected myself to watching a wet Colin Firth (not a sight I want to repeat) stepping out of a pond near Pemberly. Once I had finished with those, I began reading the fan fiction novels based on Austen's works--the variations and continuations. Some of these are horrendous and, I'm convinced, are making poor Jane Austen spin in her grave. But some are like pure poetry. They must be exactly what Jane Austen herself would have written if she'd had the notion. I read so many of these novels in such a short succession that I could almost fancy myself being Elizabeth Bennett wandering around Pemberly for the first time. Indeed, these images have often invaded my very dreams at night.
They say that confession is the first step in overcoming an addiction--an addiction that has brought us all together here tonight. But I've come to realize, however, that I am hopelessly, unashamedly addicted to Jane Austen's characters and novels. And come to think of it, I wouldn't have it any other way.