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Jane Caro: We got the Power

Jane caro

National Treasure: Jane Caro

Thanks Jane Caro, National Treasure and great role model for women. In The Age, “Sunday Life ” you explore the role of the older woman: “older women are not just a force of nature but a force business needs to  reckon with”. It is great news that older women in their later lives can enjoy the benefits of the spoils of their working life.

And of course Jane Austen had a thing or two to say about older women.  In Sense and Sensibility, we meet the widow Mrs Jennings. She is first introduced as a comic character and readers may not feel much for her, however, by the end of the novel we have witnessed her kindness towards our heroine, Marianne. We see a happy and contented single (widowed) woman contributing to her community. Often the older widowed women in society are forgotten; their desires and interests do not figure in the great literature of any civilisation. It is as if Jane Austen is being subversive again Continue reading

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The things that matter

When a life ends, you get to learn what matters. What matters is the sum of all the everyday exchanges; the sum of all the love. Sometimes cooking the food, enjoying the company, living the simple life is all that remains. Pondering the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death Continue reading

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Detecting an apricot on a tree.

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The first ripe apricot on our tree this Australian summer

 

This year the 200th since Jane Austen’s death, it is rewarding to turn to Jane’s letters from Chawton that are so are full of the seasons and the garden. Although Jane wasn’t responsible for the garden, she enjoyed the fruits of others’ labour. She tells Cassandra, “our young poeny at the foot of the fir tree has just blown and looks very handsome”. Favourite flowers, the syringas, that I have in my garden, “are coming out”. Fruit trees in the orchard were indispensable to the economy of the household but also to the pleasure, “an apricot has been detected on one of the trees”. Jane Austen’s delight shines Continue reading

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Alain de Botton’s The Course of Love

It centers on one couple: Rabih  and Kirsten. It is very modern in that the nuclear couple reign supreme; the friends and family only get a passing glance. But it is a very poignant look at the couple in modern life. It feels like  an everyman couple; a couple we can all relate to. And its premise, that the proof of love begins when the romance fades is so apt. Rabih and Kirsten are like  minor characters in an Austen novel, they are Mr and Ms Bennett, Mr and Mrs Palmer or Mr and Mrs Musgrove in the Austen Six. Only in a post modern novel can they take their place centre-stage. But that is the beauty
of the modern; the ordinary Continue reading

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Was Mrs Bennet too interested in young men’s bank balances?

Maggie Alderson in her recent column in Melbourne’s The Age channels Mrs Bennet in wondering who is the ‘best possible choice’ for her daughter. And what does Austen suggest? Sure, Mr Darcy is a man of consequence and with a fortune to match. But there are a myriad of heroes who always have enough money – let’s face it one always needs enough in the 18th Century – but are distinguishable by their values rather than their bank balances. Honourable Edward Ferrars is case in point.

Edward’s sister, who I like to call, Supercilious-Superior-Sister-in-law-Fanny Dashwood, Continue reading

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When Vanity Rules

In Pride and Prejudice when Superior-And-Spoilt-Mr Darcy gives Flawed but Fabulous Elizabeth the letter explaining his dealings with Wickham, and she fully understands her role in the past she is “absolutely ashamed of herself…she had been blind, partial, prejudiced and absurd”. She had not let reason and an unbiased interpretation of events guide her. Instead she had let her vanity rule to her folly. But whereas some heroes and heroines can slay a dragon or a formidable foe, sometimes it is the facing of ourselves that takes courage and this is exactly what Elizabeth does. She is the heroine that faces Continue reading

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