Jane Austen Comes To Montague
Perhaps you are wondering why a church would be so enthusiastic about the novels of Jane Austen that they would meet to read and discuss her works regularly. Firstly, it has something to do with her ability to observe life around her with such detail. In addition, her characters have individual voices that still speak to us despite the passage of 200 years. Jane was also a daughter of a clergyman, and this background allowed her to mingle with many people from various social classes. Thus, she was able to appreciate the economic stress of poverty and the social distress of trying to fit in with the nobility. Moreover, she had siblings in the Royal Navy, so she truly had insight to a cross-section of culture.
Religious observance was not particularly notable in her ‘Regency” period when compared to later “Victorian” times, but her Christian background gives our readers much to discuss on topics that remain surprisingly current. When we add tea and fellowship to the meeting, good times always prevail.
We also looked at Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, The Bronte sisters, Herman Melville, Alexandre Dumas, Mary Shelley, and William Makepeace Thackeray, John Steinbeck, along with the Letters of Jane Austen. We have also studied some local PEI authors, such as Hugh MacDonald and William Andrews.
We will be starting our summer read of Charles Dickens’, “Bleak House”.
We now have a Jane Austen Free Lending Library situated on the walkway outside the office of Hillcrest United Church. It’s concept is:
“Borrow it. Enjoy it. Return it.”
It is dedicated to the works of Jane Austen and some of the other 19th century authors that the Book Club will be studying. Our thanks go to Thane (a dedicated member of our church) for building it and to the Little Free Library movement in the United States for inspiring it. We hope it will serve to spread the enjoyment of Jane Austen’s works and the works of other authors throughout our community.