Comfort Reading – Turning to Austen

The other week I got home from a busy weekend at work and managed to burn my hand on a baking tray whilst trying to take it out of the oven. It really hurt. So I got ready to sit it out, with my hand under the cold tap. I took a chair and my kindle with me, intending to make the most of the sit down, and the opportunity to read a decent chunk of a proof for NetGalley. After only a few pages I couldn’t take any more, I felt too tired and emotional. I think sometimes, certain events in life bring you up short, and a whole load of emotions you didn’t even know you were carrying rise to the surface.

Stuck at the sink, with my hand throbbing, I suddenly remembered that there was a free copy of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice on my kindle. I prefer reading actual books to digital editions (though digital certainly has its place) and I would normally read my charity shop copy of this classic. It is tiny in size about six inches by four, with a worn navy blue hardback cover and gold writing on the spine. It’s not a particularly special copy or even a very old edition – it looks like it was published around 1999 – but it entered my possession when I was 16 and has been a treasure ever since…

Anyway, here I am, at the sink – feeling slightly faint and very tearful! – and it doesn’t matter what format I get the story in. I just need to read her words. So once again I turn to Jane Austen and Elizabeth Bennet for comfort. Something I’ve done so many times before.

All this also got me thinking again about the power of Austen and her ability to bring comfort and inspiration to so many over the centuries. Despite the fact that her works are so much more than light-hearted romances, she is often turned to for comfort. I think that the complexity of her characters and her realistic portrayal of their interactions in life provides something for all to identify with. Her themes of family, money and love are timeless (as is her social commentary and tone of irony!). Her use of language has a soothing quality and her happy endings are always a source of solace – cause for hope. And for me, Eliza Bennet in particular, is one of those characters who will for ever provide a source of inspiration.

My hand is healing well and I’ve spent some wonderful hours in the world of Austen as a result. I’ve lost count of the number of times I have re-read Pride & Prejudice now, and it’s never enough. Every time I read Austen I find something new – a reference she makes, some additional context or hidden details… This is another reason she is so good for re-reading, because even when you know the plot, know the ending – each read reveals something new.

Sometimes, when the piles of books that I want to read are mounting daily, I feel that to re-read a favourite is an indulgence that cannot be spared. Time marches on. The silver lining of burning my hand turned out to be a guilt free ticket to one of my most enjoyable past times and a reminder never to shrug off the pleasure, and value, of a comfort read.

Do you have a book or an author you always turn to? Please feel free to drop me a line in the comments – I’d love to know 🙂

Meg Readz xx

One thought on “Comfort Reading – Turning to Austen

  1. i feel exactly the same way about austen!! every time i pick up any one of her novels i get so lost in her heroines’ minds and all the conversations they have – i just love reading about people talking through the various goings on of their lives and Austen renders it all with so much complexity and nuance!!

    Liked by 1 person

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