Since the new book was inspired by the realisation that Jane Austen had a favourite cousin whose husband was guillotined during the revolution, I have every excuse to make a return journey to her novels. I read each of Jane Austen's novels on a loop, I 'd say every decade. She's the only novelist I ever read more than once - she's my security blanket, I suspect, guaranteed to keep me amused in dark times. But I always find her totally inspirational.
So it's Pride and Prejudice again. Which proves, like all the others, to be as fresh as ever. Part of Austen's appeal is that she presents her reader with a different take on what's important in the novel every time. So now I'm particularly intrigued by the page space she gives Collins to ramble on about Lady Catherine - I suspect a modern editor would have had a few comments on that. But more importantly, I realise that Austen gets away with all kinds of tricks, like telling the reader in no uncertain terms that Darcy finds Lizzy utterly sexy and irresistible from word go. The sexual pull of the novel is compelling, despite its mercenary and slightly didactic streak. Jane Austen gets away with blue murder because the emotion is just so raw. Or, as my agent once eloquently put it, she writes with her knickers off.