Today would have been Jane Austen's 237th birthday (she was born in 1775). And yet, she's endured. Some might say that her advice for women is old-fashioned ("It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife." However, I think this kind of advice simply needs to be repurposed; it's still totally applicable! (see slideshow)
I started reading Jane Austen when I was around 13 years old. Pride and Prejudice was my first (as was the case for many other girls, probably). I didn't read it for a class. In fact, I'm pretty sure my mom gave it to me, telling me I'd love it.
You know what? I DID love it. I then went on to read Emma, Sense & Sensibility, Northanger Abbey. I admit that Pride & Prejudice and Emma stuck with me more than any of the others. I even loved many of the adaptations. A&E Pride and Prejudice miniseries, Bridget Jones's Diary, Gwyneth's Emma, Clueless. I couldn't get enough of Jane Austen, in every form.
There's a reason that Jane Austen is timeless: she gives really great advice! We may not have the class system that Victorian (well, slightly pre Victorian) England had, and women have certainly gained more of an equal footing (note that I did not say an entirely equal footing). However, I still learned a lot about dating, friendship, family, and what it means to be a woman from reading the wonderful Ms. Austen.
So, you'd better believe that some day far in the future, when I have daughters, I will be passing along a battered old copy of Pride and Prejudice in the hopes that they glean some things from Jane Austen's wise words.
Here are some of the more important things that Ms. Austen taught me: