Welcome Austenprose, Win White’s Press’s Pride & Prejudice! (Heroine Love 13)

What?  How is it even possible that this is the last installment of Heroine Love posts?

You know what that means…you have until midnight Pacific tonight to enter to win today’s prize and qualify for the Grand Prize Pack of a $50 gift certificate to your local indie bookstore, signed copies of The Heroine’s Bookshelf in print and audio, a brand-new Pride & Prejudice audiobook, and an iPod shuffle to listen to it on!

Make a stand for heroine love…enter now and tell a friend.  Want to be my heroine forever?  Consider taking this opportunity to tell a friend you love about The Heroine’s Bookshelf!  Oh, and please welcome Laurel Ann, curator of the amazing Austenprose.com and one of my all-time favorite Jane Austen enthusiasts.  Read on and you could win a lovely White’s Books fine edition of Pride and Prejudice in all its Regency glory.

Elizabeth Bennet Cheerleader!

Yes, I am nuts. I chose to write about one of literature’s most famous heroines, Elizabeth Bennet. Everyone and their aunt Gert knows who she is and has an opinion of her, including hundreds of scholars bearing down on me with furrowed brow and piercing Lady Catherine eyes. I can’t really offer any new mind blowing insights, but I can share how she changed my life many years ago and continues to even today!

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away… yep, that was when I was in college,I was studying to be a landscape designer at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Situated in the dry rolling hills of central California, I secretly dreamed of the verdure of the English countryside before I had ever read Jane Austen’s novel Emma and knew that verdure was a word. My antidote was to take extra curriculum courses in British literature, history and art and look forward to Masterpiece Theatre every Sunday night on TV. When one of my sorority sisters spent her junior year in England, I begged her for postcards. She was flattered that I wanted to hear from her. Secretly, I wanted the pictures.

I knew within the first fifteen minutes of the Masterpiece Theatre broadcast of Pride and Prejudice that Elizabeth Bennet and her nightmare family were now my new addiction. Poor Lizzy Bennet. I could totally relate. Her mother was a chatteringbusybody and her father totally disinterested. Sisters Lydia, a dangerous flirt, Kitty, vacuous twit, Mary, a pedantic prig, and Jane, a bit too nice for her own good. I had been raised in a family of three girls with no male heir. Our family apples did not fall far from the Bennet tree. I of course was the spunky, courageous and impertinent Elizabeth Bennet. Happy thought indeed! There was even a brooding Darcy-type at school that I had first despised and then fell in love with. Too bad he went for a Lydia tramp instead.

Beside the Bennet/Nattress household similarities, why did I like Elizabeth and the story of Pride and Prejudice so? Firstly it made me laugh, and “follies and nonsense, whims and inconsistencies, do divert me, I own, and I laugh at them whenever I can.” Secondly it allowed me to escape into a world of genteel civility where society valued grace, manners and good breeding. In the late 1970’s, Lizzy might have approved of the disco dancing, but the recreational drugs and free love would have twisted her corset. It didn’t sit well with me either. I had obviously been born in the wrong century. Thirdly, and most importantly, Elizabeth Bennet was a woman of words and action. She was strong, spirited and determined: offering opinions decidedly and scampering about the countryside gleefully. I so admired her joie de vivre. No one could pop her balloon and if they tried, she could throw a withering remarks deflating smug Caroline Bingley or arrogant Fitzwilliam Darcy in a flash. Now this did backfire on her more than once, but she did learn to temper her judgment and accept change. What woman in her right mind would not want to have her confidence, her energy and her sharp wit? I did!

It would be many years, and all of Jane Austen’s novels later, before I would discover the Internet and hook up with fellow Janeites at the Republic of Pemberley. I was all astonishment when I found there were others who wanted to talk about my wonderful Elizabeth Bennet and her troubles. At first it was a bit disconcerting. For twenty years I had been harboring my own notions of Austen and her characters. Now other people had their unique slant which sometimes did not match my own. They taught me to see my prejudices and accept change. Widening my perspective, I eventually began reading the many new Pride and Prejudice inspired novels that were now their own book genre. I admired the creativity and soon found myself consuming ever Jane Austen paraliterure novel I could find.

I can now blame Jane and her conceitedly independent heroine Elizabeth Bennet for guiding my life into a new career. Compelled to have my share of the conversation, I started Austenprose, my own Jane Austen inspired blog devoted to my favorite author and the many books, movies, sequels and pop culture she has inspired. I enjoy blogging about Jane immeasurably and I credit Lizzy every day for giving me the confidence to express my opinions decidedly, tempered with civility and humor. I never imagined that a new career would spring from this obsession. My own book, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, makes its appearance this Fall. “I am the happiest creature in the world.” gushed Elizabeth Bennet to her aunt Gardiner on her engagement to Mr. Darcy, and I could not agree more.

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of Austenprose.com and forthcoming short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, to be released by Ballantine Books on 11 October. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives near Seattle, WA, where it rains a lot.

Thanks, Laurel Ann, for your generous donation of a copy of White Books’ swoon-worthy hardcover edition of Pride and Prejudice, and congratulations to winner Stephanie B.!

Please note:  Heroine Love entries are now CLOSED!

Which heroine has affected your outlook on life?

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  • Margay

    I just adore Elizabeth Bennet!

  • Janefan

    Lizzie Bennet, of course! Laurel Anne really hits it on the head for me: “What woman in her right mind would not want to have her confidence, her energy and her sharp wit? I did!”

  • http://katieleigh.wordpress.com Katie

    Great post! I do admire Lizzie Bennet…though at heart I’m an Anne Shirley/Betsy Ray kind of girl.

  • Shannon

    Love it! great post!

  • ruth

    I am captivated with Anne Shirley and have always been. I enjoyed this lovely post.

  • Sophie

    Lizzie Bennet, of course!!! Thank you for a great post and contest!!!

  • Trish

    I love Pride and Prejudice, and am a big fan of Elizabeth Bennett!

  • Felicia

    Definitely Elizabeth Bennet! I remember after reading P&P the first time and thinking that I want to be just like her!

  • http://laura-asimplehappylife.blogspot.com/ Laura

    I am just reading Pride & Prejudice…again. Enjoying it even more this time around!

  • http://janegs.blogspot.com/ JaneGS

    I am a sister in the fandom of Elizabeth Bennet–her family loyalty is so wonderful. Even when she knows how awful they can be, she defends them; I actually think her best line is when she tells Mr. D. that she is a gentleman’s daughter, and so they are equal.

    Thanks for sharing your Austen journey–loved reading about it.

  • Eddie

    Brilliant! And a big hurrah for picking pics from the brilliant Fay Weldon adaptation – from “Tolerably so!” to “It is incredible! But quite gratifying…” to the minute she sees Darcy at Pemberley, Elizabeth Garvie’s expressions are perfect Lizzie.

  • http://writemeg.com Meg

    Lovely post from Laurel Ann, who is my favorite Janeite! There’s much to love about Lizzie Bennet and the ridiculous Bennets themselves . . . such fun! Pride & Prejudice will never die, I’d wager.

  • http://deniseofingleside.blogspot.com Denise Bruce of Ingleside, PEI

    It’s Anne Shirley for me too :) Will always love her and so wish the story would continue. Lucy Maud has captured my heart and my soul. It is hers for all my life. I can’t fight it so embrace it to the best i can.

    Pride and P is on my list of books to read, but i do love the movies! so wonderful :)

    thank you for another great post, i’ll miss these homey posts.

    love,
    denise of inglesid,e PEI

  • http://jennsbookshelves.com Jenn’s Bookshelves

    Without a doubt my heroine is Jane Eyre. She was stubborn, determined, and went against what was expected of a woman, struggling for the right to be a strong & independent woman.

  • Erin Golsen

    Dorothea from Middlemarch–I love Jane Austen, but I love George Eliot too!

  • http://perfectretort.blogspot.com CLM

    I am probably more influenced by Georgette Heyer’s heroines than by Austen’s, but perhaps because there are so many more of them!

  • http://austenaspirations.blogspot.com/ Nancy Kelley

    Lizzy Bennet is my heroine as well. Like I said in my Valentine’s Day ode to Darcy, when I first read Pride and Prejudice, I didn’t want Darcy as much as I wanted to be Lizzy. I even wanted all four of her sisters, having none myself.

  • http://Www.mageelatroche.com Mageela Troche

    Heroine, I don’t have just one. I think Anne Frank, Jo March, Beth March

  • Bethie

    Elizabeth Bennett is one of my favs.

  • http://www.beguilethysorrow.blogspot.com Bella @BeguileThySorrow

    When it comes to Jane Austen heroines, Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility is without a doubt the one to which I most felt connected. Especially in the film adaptation by Ang Lee. My sisters and I used to watch that movie over and over when we were young, and in college called each other Elinor, Marianne, and Miss Margaret, and none of our friends knew why!lol
    But I have always been the shy and reserved sister, and as oldest made sure we all got to (and through) college regardless of obstacles. My sister just 1 year younger was always the emotional one, and always “having drama” so she liked Marianne, and my youngest sister was always out of the loop even though not but a year younger than her so we called her Margaret.
    It’s one of the geeky, fun things we shared growing up that we all miss now that we live in different cities. I think the book and film affected all our outlooks on life because we decided early on to stick together and get ourselves into a better future just like the Dashwood women:)

  • Heather

    Bella beat me to it! While I enjoy Elizabeth Bennet immensely, it’s Miss Elinor Dashwood who has always felt like my kindred spirit.

  • http://janeausteninvermont.wordpress.com Deb

    Lovely post Laurel Ann! – you capture Lizzy’s appeal perfectly, the reason she speaks to women [and men!] 200 years later. She is certainly one of my favorite heroines – far too difficult to limit it to just one – so I will have to add Jane Eyre for her strength in the face of all manner of tribulation, Dorothea Brooke for her steadfastness and brilliant mind, and Lizzie for her independent and “sparkling” nature – and Anne Elliot is not far behind…

    Thanks for sharing all your thoughts Laurel Ann – we are all quite blessed by your having discovered Elizabeth Bennet all those years ago!
    Best,
    Deb
    [ps - I think I am late for the prize drawing - but I already have TWO copies of this great read, so I take a pass!]

  • http://gaskellblog.com Katherine Cox

    Beautifully written Laurel Ann!