I remember when Jane and I first met. I was in high school; she was a regular at Winchester Cathedral. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance, my senior English teacher. I thought it would be awkward at first, neither of us knowing what to say, but we had so much in common that we instantly bonded. We both loved tea! And Mr. Darcy! And we’re both repressed—her by Regency society, and me by, huh. I’m not sure what my problem is, actually.
I remember devouring Pride and Prejudice that first time in my parents’ jacuzzi. (Oh, geez. I probably returned the book totally waterlogged. Sorry, Mr. R.) It was the first time I’ve ever read a book and turned around and read the whole thing a second time.
And then! As if life couldn’t get any better, my English teacher showed us the entire 1995 BBC miniseries. That was the first time I met Colin Firth, too. Needless to say, we also hit it off immediately.
I had a crush on a boy in my English class, and I gushed to him about how AMAZING class had been lately, with the combination of reading AND watching Pride and Prejudice. (Was this what I used to talk to boys about? Hm. Certain things are becoming uncomfortably clearer.) My classmate said he hadn’t read the book—Wait. Is that a thing? Don’t you have to read the book the teacher assigns?—and he fell asleep during the miniseries every day. So. That ended that crush.
Full disclosure: my husband also doesn’t get my Jane Austen love. But he’s watched the miniseries with me without falling asleep, and he forgives me for sometimes referring to Star Wars as Star Trek, which is apparently a worse gaff than that time Mr. Collins introduced himself to Mr. Darcy.
There’s nothing like the first reading of your favorite Austen novel, is there? While I’ve enjoyed all my rereadings and the fun and witty adaptations, I’d love to transport myself back to that first time I read Mr. Darcy’s proposal and subsequent letter. And the first time I watched that Colin Firth lake scene. Well.
After my Jane discovery, I did what I assume most newly converted Austenites do—I read the rest of her novels multiple times. I tried to spread the gospel of Jane and got mostly glazed looks and lackluster responses.
I heard this response a lot:
“Jane Austen! Yes! I loved Jane Eyre!”
I don’t like to correct people. But I didn’t really like that book. Since I’m good at being honest in these types of situations, I said, “Yes! Me too!”
Fast forward to years later when I was just discovering that I loved writing. I hopped out of bed one morning lit with inspiration. “I just had the best idea!” I told my husband. “I’m going to write Pride and Prejudice as a modern day novel, set with teenagers.”
“That was my idea,” he said. “I told you to do that years ago.”
As I worked on my book, I slowly realized there was a world of people who love to write Jane Austen fan fiction, and a world of people who love to read it. I’m still learning about it, and this blog is my first official toe dip into that world. So, hello! Nice to meet you! Can you tell me more about your favorite corners of the internet to get involved with other lovers of Austen fan fiction?
So that’s it: my Jane and Kirstin Meet Cute story. It’s how I went from being a Jane virgin to a, well. I already said I’m repressed. I have no idea how to finish that sentence.
Finish it for me! Tell me your first time. How did you go from being a Jane virgin to a, hm. You write the rest.