November 8, 2005

Kathleen Norris meets Bridget Jones

So, this is the big idea for this book: Kathleen Norris meets Bridget Jones (with a good dose of Frances Mayes, as well). If that's possible and I can pull it off, that's what I'm aiming for. There are lots of biographies about Austen, and lots of fiction based on her writing, and everyone's writing a memoir these days. But, as far as I know, there aren't any memoirs based on the writer's interaction with Austen and her material, which is what this will be.

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.


Blogger Kristine said...

I'm going to have to go out and read some Frances Mayes and Kathleen Norris now! Thanks for the links to their books.

11/10/2005 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a lot of unaswered questions about Jane Austen. I mean, I read Pride & Prejudice in college and really enjoyed it. (is it OK for a man to admit that?)
But I have never understood Austen fanatics...what is going on there?
Perhaps your writings will indirectly answer that.
I don’t look down on them or think they are nuts or anything.
(For goodness sake, anyone who has defended and tried to explain Elvis impersonator fanaticism has no right!)
But I think you really may be on to something with your concept for the book, and I wish you luck!

11/10/2005 10:45:00 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home