Monday, November 22, 2010

An Open Letter to Jane Austen

Dear Ms. Austen,

Over the past two weeks I have been listening to all your major novels while at work.  I must admit that your books are really a guilty pleasure of mine.  I generally don't love things that might be categorized under "chick lit" but your books have always been an exception.  I have always loved your heroines.  They are frequently some combination of smart, resourceful, and plucky.  There is the witty Elizabeth Bennet, the introspective Anne Elliot, and Elinor Dashwood who is so cool tempered and diplomatic she could probably run a country.  Even Catherine Moreland, who is, for all intent and purpose, quite obnoxious and immature, is at least well-read and imaginative.  So seriously, what happened with Fanny Price?  She is feeble, not particularly educated or curious, and is the first to jump on any social grenade that comes her way and play the part of the martyr.  Now, I can respect the fact that perhaps you were trying to impress upon the reader the importance of being kind and moral through the actions of Fanny but I challenge that all your other characters accomplished the same.....and had grown pair.  So I would like to suggest a few possible rewrites that might help Fanny in her fictitious journey.

1.  After visiting her poor family Fanny's eyes are opened to the condescending nature of her two aunts.  As a result, her self worth builds proportionally to her indignation, and as a form of subversive vengeance she returns to Mansfield Park where she begins to raid the servants closet, stop fixing her hair and start drinking excessively (all in the name of irony).  All the while reading and educating herself (primarily in the counter culture movements of the day) that way she could outsmart her aunts while looking and acting socially beneath them.  This movement would catch on.  Later, these same people will go a little too far, stop showering, get whiny, and become too self-involved.  This group will henceforth be known as hipsters.

2.  A mystery package shows up for Fanny one day.  She opens it. The package contains a copy of Betty Friedan's "The Feminine Mystique."  She learns about the "problem with no name".  Fanny suddenly starts speaking up.  She develops enough self esteem to not only notice that Henry Crawford has the hots for her but that he is primarily attracted to her because she is so submissive and "well-behaved".  In response, she proceeds to give Mr. Crawford a tongue lashing the likes of England has never seen.  She then moves to London to pursue a career as a motivational speaker.

3.  One day while out riding her horse she runs into a gentleman making soap in a field.  Turns out, his name is Tyler Durden.  Hijinks ensues.  Mansfield Park ends up as a pile or rubble and Edmund Bertram leads a battered, but finally clear headed, Fanny to the family apothecary.

Please consider the previous three items as I believe they would add a new, and much needed, dimension to one, Fanny Price.

Thank you for your time.

Most Sincerely,


  1. Hijinks? Soap. Sorry, sounds like chick lit to me. Ms. Austen would be a fool not to listen to you...of course by now she doesn't have ears...or a face for that matter. Though it didn't stop Mark Twain from penning stuff.

  2. I understand Austen is supposed to be pretty awesome, but there is that chick lit association with her too. You think I'd like reading her? What book should I start with?

  3. I just joined Bon Bon Rose Girls' Rosebuds. I saw your blog on their list and thought I would check it out. It is a pleasure to "meet" you!