Our group of five Austen admirers met tonight in Richmond amongst much merriment and drinking of wine as we discussed the mature ladies in Jane's novels - Lady Russell, Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mrs. Jennings, and Mrs. Norris. Mrs. Croft never quite entered the discussion because she was deemed too young. (Sorry, Eric). We ended the evening with a reading from the recent Newsweek article about Jane, which one of the Janeites read.
I won't duplicate the excellent post on Austen.blog, where you can find a link to the article. But I will quote one passage we all responded to with deep feeling:
But it's time to rescue Austen from her fans, lest the most adventurous and discerning readers pass her by. If you look at her books closely, you find them more bleak than charming: her characters are isolated within their own minds, trapped in tight spaces, forced to socialize daily with a small group of people they can never fully trust, including their own families. Not a one of her heroines ever shares everything with a true confidant—that is, up until the marriage we never see—and everybody has secrets and conflicting agendas.
This passage resulted in a prolonged and lively discussion. We do see the weddings in a few novels, but author David Gates is right, we do not see the marriages of our heroes and heroines. But "rescue Jane from her fans and save her for a more discerning reader?" What on earth is the man talking about?
To form your own opinion, go to Austen.blog and click on the link to read the rest of the article.