I've been keeping a dark secret from all my female friends for years, and the time has arrived for me to come clean and admit my shortcomings.
I have never read a book by Jane Austen.
I have seen two films based on Jane Austen novels: Emma (the one with Gwyneth Paltrow) and Mansfield Park (I think that's the one). I have never seen ANY versions of Pride and Prejudice (okay, wait, I did see the LDS version that came out a few years ago, but I assume that one doesn't actually count).
I am a disgrace to womankind.
All this confession came about because my friend Nicola posted on her blog that Masterpiece Theatre on PBS has come out with several new film versions of Austen's novels and she and her sister are so excited they can hardly stand it. I want to be excited about it, too, because I'm a girl and that's what girls do, right? But I just can't seem to find it within myself to be interested at all. Maybe if I'd actually ever read any of the books I'd feel differently. I own several - Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Emma, Sense and Sensibility - and at least two of them are very nice leather-bound editions - all purchased because I carry this belief that in order to really be a girl you have to read Jane Austen novels. But I've never even cracked the covers. I just can't bring myself to do it. I think it's because I feel like I'm supposed to read it, and I hate reading books that I'm supposed to read.
So for all this time I've felt slightly guilty because I've been harboring this deep, dark secret that I'm not a completely normal female, i.e. I have never spent 12 hours on the couch crying over the relationship between Elizabeth and Mr....ummm...whatever his name is (I love Anne of Green Gables, though, and will happily spend all day watching that! That makes me a girl, right?) But I've decided now that this is okay with me. I have daughters, and they have friends who are girls, so at some point in my life I will probably watch Pride and Prejudice. I will probably even eventually decide to read one of the books gathering dust on my shelves, and then, like so many books that I've fought stubbornly against in the past, I will probably become hooked and read every other Jane Austen book I can get my hands on.
And I will probably do it in complete secrecy because I will have too much pride to admit that I've finally cracked.