Hi Austen lovers, I’m Iris, and I am very privileged and honored to join the wonderful Austen Authors team! I’ll start my blogging journey here with a walk down memorable lane about how I first discovered Austen, and I hope to learn about your story as well.
I grew up in a home where both parents were voracious readers but not big fans of fiction. As a result, my mother made it a rule that she would only buy literary classics for us, since she trusted their quality to be better without her having the time to read everything she bought us. It did not matter what genre the book was. She would only purchase things Penguin classics or other such publishers carried.
Just like that, serendipitously, I first read Pride and Prejudice as a fourteen-year-old without even knowing I was starting a literary classic and my first ever true romance novel. Without any preconceptions and, shall we say, prejudices, I traveled through the book with Elizabeth’s eyes, taking on every emotion she had. I hated Mr. Darcy, I was charmed by Mr. Wickham, I shouted “What?” very loudly when Darcy declared his love, and I sat with my mouth agape as Wickham’s misdeeds, both toward Georgiana and Lydia, came to light.
Suffice it to say I was incredibly shocked and incredibly moved when Our Dear Couple got together in the end. I fell in love with Mr. Darcy, with Austen’s writing, and with romance itself in one fell swoop. I picked up the rest of Austen’s books without delay, and I still name her as the only novelist whose entire collection of completed books I have read.
My reading habits continued to change throughout the years. Going through college with a concentration in English left me very little time to spend in leisure reading. It’s not easy to lose oneself in a lighthearted romance when one has forty pages of Milton to read overnight! With life’s various demands getting in the way, it took me a few years to get back to reading as a pleasure activity.
When it comes to Austen, in fact, it took a special event called rejecting, regretting, then reuniting with and marrying my own Mr. Darcy of a husband to get me to truly appreciate the original Mr. Darcy again! Since then, Pride and Prejudice has become inextricable from my life. I read it, I reread it (sometimes in different languages), I explore adaptations, I devour variations, and I even named my children after Fitzwilliam and Elizabeth.
Every Austen journey is unique, and I can’t wait to hear yours. What got you to first discover Austen’s works? What made you grow to love them? I would love to hear your thoughts!