Kathleen Norris meets Bridget Jones
And while there are some great Austen biographies, I don't think there are any that fans of her writing have devoured. I want this to be that book. It will be well researched, but it's not a straight-up, academic, let-me-tell-you-all-the-details-of-Austen's-life biography. It's one devoted fan sharing the aspects of Austen's life that are most interesting to her, and that, I think, will be most interesting to readers as well.
It will be about love, heartache, family, the meaning of home and community. Independence, marriage, children, learning, work -- a woman's place in the world. And writing and creativity, and even a little jealousy and fame.
And it will be about faith. While Austen didn't record anything about her own spiritual journey that we know of, except for a few references in her letters, she was immersed in the Anglican church. Her father and two of her brothers were rectors. She penned a couple prayers which survive. And her faith evidences itself in a gentle way in her writing.
Mostly it will be about faith because I can't write about my own life without writing about my own delights and struggles in my relationship with God. I've recently found a home in the Anglican church, and it makes me happy to feel some sense of connection with so many of the writers I love, including Austen. How does my faith differ from hers? That question may be impossible to answer, but I will investigate it.
Lastly -- or perhaps primarily -- it will be about travel. The narrative progression will be based on the month-long trip I took in July 2005 to follow Austen's life through England. Lovely Bath, gray Lyme, the quiet Hampshire countryside, me nearly losing my way on a solitary trek through the fields around Steventon, and hitchiking in the rain, and finding comfort and solace in evensong at Christchurch Cathedral. I love Austen, and England -- and I hope this book will be a trip many Austen fans will want to take.