Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 4 & Giveaway!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress (2011)Continuing the JAMMDI author interview that started on August 3rd, we delve deeper into the 24 contributor’s thoughts on Austen’s heroines…

Jane Austen’s heroines have been often imitated but never duplicated. From Elizabeth Bennet’s conceited independence to Fanny Price’s prudent convictions, Austen creates characters with real flaws and perfections that readers identify with. Which of her heroine’s do you connect with personally? Who would you like to offer advice to, and please share what that would be?

  • The Austen heroine with whom I most identify is Elizabeth Bennet.  I’ve always been a little too outspoken for my own good and guilty of “professing opinions that are not [my] own.”  Unlike Elizabeth, however, I tend to put my foot in my mouth all too often.  I do envy her ease in social situations and wish I could perform in a likewise manner. Which heroine would I advise?  I think Fanny Price.  I always felt badly for her and the way she was treated at the Bertram’s.  She sticks up for herself in plucky ways—for example, she is the only one who refuses to take part in the “spectacle”—deeming it questionable on moral grounds.   However, at times she feels unsure of herself and unduly influenced by others.  I’d advise her to hold firm to her principles and to know her own self-worth and not let others dictate to her.  True that, as a woman of her time and situation, she did not have much power.  But in the end, she gets her true love and her happily ever after. – Brenna Aubrey
  • My favorite Austen novel is Persuasion, but I’m most like Eliza Bennet from P&P.  I see her as insecure rather than conceited; she conveys confidence in public through her wit and intelligence, but in private she’s acutely conscious of her family’s shortcomings and her own.  I think that’s why so many women love her—she has strengths and vulnerabilities, failings and brilliance.  As for advice: I’d like to tell Fanny to get a sense of humor.  She drives me crazy, and if I were Edmund, I’d have eloped with Mary Crawford long ago. – Stephanie Barron
  • I’m sure I connected most with Elizabeth Bennet, but I had a soft spot for Catherine Morland, because I’m sure when young I would have behaved very like her. As for advice, I dearly want to tell Emma to get over herself! I have wondered what impelled Jane Austen to create her, for I don’t think she could have liked her, whereas I think she liked all her other heroines, despite their flaws and foibles. – Jo Beverley
  • I connect with Mrs. Elton and always have. She strikes me as a kind of pushy, brassy New York type of lady, insensitive to the social nuances, and trying to be important. When I first read Emma I didn’t see anything wrong with Mrs. Elton, she just seemed like a lot of people I knew and a little bit like myself, and it was a long, gradual lesson in humiliation to realize that Jane Austen thought she was awful and was making fun of her.  But, my study of Mrs. Elton taught me everything I now know about manners. – Diana Birchall
  • I probably identify with Mr. Darcy as much as anyone, especially in the overhearing of his snotty, snobby asides – something you can count on me to provide if you sit next to me at dinner. – Diane Meier
  • Disregard the above; in this abrasive view of herself, Diane is even more unreliable than Mrs. Bennet. I used to love Lizzy Bennet, and then I took Sir Walter Scott’s point – that she showed no real interest in Fitzwilliam Darcy until she saw the size of his estate in Derbyshire. Then I transferred to – and have stayed with – Anne Elliot in Persuasion. I like her modesty, and her understanding that, when all’s said and done, it’s integrity that counts; that’s what sets people apart. If I had to give anybody advice I’d give it to (a) Captain Wentworth, and say, “Oh, for Heaven’s sake, don’t be such a slowcoach – go on, pursue the girl;” and (b) Mrs. Bennet, to whom my advice would be “Make silence your friend.” – Frank Delaney
  • Right now my favorite Austen heroine is Emma, just because I’m just getting to know her. I read Emma several times at different stages of my life, and generally I kept getting irritated at her for poking her nose into everyone else’s business. There’s so much going on in that novel, so many clues to look out for, so many hidden meanings, that I didn’t really pay Emma herself that much attention. Ramola Garai’s depiction made me notice things about her I’d never seen, and I came to understand her better. I wouldn’t say it was a personal connection necessarily, but I can’t help wondering if Jane Austen didn’t put a lot of herself into Emma. It can’t have been easy for a woman as bright as Jane to have to stay behind while her brothers went off and explored the world, leaving her behind to make pies (Austen does make some sarcastic remarks about pies). Emma’s world was very restricted. I think she must have had the patience of a saint. Yet when she does let out a bit of her frustration (to Miss Bates), she gets told off. I would advise Emma to travel, to open up her horizons a bit and see the world. The Box Hill trip was such a big event for her, it’s rather sad. I can’t believe she didn’t even go to London to see her sister when she had her baby! She could easily have travelled with Mr. Knightley. – Monica Fairview
  • Like many other women, I connect with Elizabeth Bennet. If I had to offer advice to anyone, I think I would advise Fanny to laugh more. – Amanda Grange
  • Like many readers, I connect most closely with Elizabeth, because she’s feisty, opinionated, sensitive, strong, and has a sense of humor. I’d like to advise Anne Elliot and Fanny Price to speak up and admit their feelings to the men they love—but if they did, it might come at the wrong time, when the men weren’t ready for it—and change the outcome of the story. Jane Austen knew what she was about; there was a reason for everything she did! – Syrie James
  • Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, throw caution to the winds. Marry Henry Crawford and whip him into shape. Forget about the tepid cousin Edmund and get away from that creepy uncle. – Janet Mullany
  • The diversity of Austen’s heroine’s strikes me at first. Spirited Elizabeth Bennet may be the heroine that most readers aspire to be, but rarely attain; drama-queen Marianne Dashwood brings back bad personal memories for me; Emma Woodhouse has style and confidence, but, she is a bit of a pill; Anne Elliot’s passivity makes me want to shake her hard and then embrace her; Catherine Morland is still a heroine in the making, so I shant criticize her; Fanny Price is just so darn saintly that I want to slip her a stiff drink; but Mary Crawford (wait! she’s not a heroine, or is she?), is intriguing and may be the most misunderstood. If I could offer her some advice, it would be to be observant and learn from your past digressions. Choose your friends and your husband wisely. The right influence could send you down a whole new path. – Laurel Ann Nattress
  • I think I’ve connected with all of them on some level, but particularly with Elizabeth Bennet, and Marianne Dashwood. I’m not sure I would offer any advice to any of Jane’s heroines. I love their flaws and imperfections, and each character and their story offers its own advice in subtle ways. Because the characters are flawed, and you recognize those failings in yourself, the journey they take depends very much on learning from their own experiences. – Jane Odiwe
  • Like so many who are devoted to Jane Austen, I feel the strongest connection to Elizabeth Bennet. The main characters in my novels are usually a ‘fish out of water’ in some respect, and Elizabeth embodies this perfectly. I can identify with feeling that you don’t quite fit into your surroundings, but then I suspect many of us feel that way. I also admire Elizabeth’s ability to learn from her mistakes and to let go of erroneous first impressions. If I could offer advice to one of Austen’s heroines, I would tell Anne Elliot to be more assertive with that dreadful family of hers, although that would probably mess up the plot of the novel! – Beth Pattillo
  • I have always loved Elizabeth Bennet as I see a lot of myself in her! I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing, but I’ve always been very independent, very observant and, like Elizabeth, I don’t suffer fools gladly. I adore the way that her and Mr Darcy spar verbally – their ‘banter’ as we call it in the UK, makes for such enjoyable reading and reminds me of myself when I first met my boyfriend! As for advice, I’m not sure I could offer Elizabeth any advice, only that which she discovers later in the book anyway, which is not to jump to conclusions, or judge people on first impressions and to not let pride get in the way of love… – Alexandra Potter
  • Unfortunately, I probably connect most closely with Emma.  I delight in telling people what to do and arranging their lives.  Fortunately, I have understanding friends. I would like to recommend to Marianne Dashwood that she run like the wind from John Willoughby.  Whatever was she thinking? Oh, right.  Thinking had nothing to do with it. – Myretta Robens
  • I think the heroine who most needs advice is the one least likely to take it: Emma Woodhouse. Her status – she is the richest of Austen’s heroines – has given her a self-importance that is neither moderated, nor justified by intellect, talent or even, at times, kindness. Unfortunately, such people really can’t be told anything. As far as connecting personally? Because I cannot comprehend why people fawn over talentless celebrities, I admire Elizabeth’s composure at the prospect of meeting Lady Catherine – “She had heard nothing of Lady Catherine that spoke her awful from any extraordinary talents or miraculous virtue and the mere stateliness of money and rank she thought she could witness without trepidation.” It’s one of my favorite passages. – Jane Rubino
  • Catherine Morland.  I have a deep affection for Catherine because, holy cow, I was her at sixteen. Figuratively.  I was also literally her during a college production of Northanger.  She is Every Teenage Girl.  As for advice…I don’t know what, if any, I’d give her — she is inexperienced and, okay, she can be a little oblivious, but she has good instincts and knows right from wrong.  I couldn’t even tell her It’s just a book, cause I’ve been known to take out life-long grudges against books I don’t like.  I’d just want to start a book club with her and Eleanor. – Cailten Rubino-Bradway
  • I have great fellow-feeling for the two most timid and reserved heroines, Fanny Price and Anne Elliot, although I don’t resemble them at all. I like the way they keep their inner thoughts quiet; and I love the way they accept their fate when it seems hopeless, and the way their shy gentleness wins the hearts of the men they love. The two women to whom I would offer advice are Marianne and Emma. Both suffer from an overdose of self-indulgence and a lack of self-awareness, which, in Marianne’s case, proves nearly fatal. I would advise them to avoid jumping to conclusions and to be much more cautious. It’s interesting that both of them end up marrying a much older man, whom they respect, and who will, we hope, give them similar advice and stop them from misjudging situations and making wrong decisions. – Maya Slater
  • When I was younger, I was very much a Catherine Morland—though unfortunately no Henry Tilney has crossed my path! As I get older, I have come to appreciate Elinor Dashwood. I have often had to be a peacemaker and the person in the middle of arguments, and I really admire the way she always remembers who she is. She feels deeply, but her emotions never own her. May Edward Ferrars endeavor to deserve her! I don’t know that I would give any of the heroines advice, but I would very much like to be Eleanor Tilney’s friend while she is waiting for her viscount. She certainly needs a friend then, especially after Catherine gets on General Tilney’s Not Our Kind, Dear list.  – Margaret C. Sullivan
  • I connect with all of them, even the dotty old characters, and the young, yearning women longing for love. That’s what I adore about Jane Austen. She speaks to me in every possible way. – Adriana Trigiani
  • I connect personally with all of Austen’s heroines, because I see a little of myself in each of them. Catherine Morland of Northanger Abbey, who is addicted to scary novels, dancing, and old houses, reminds me of who I was when I was happily living in a crumbling Victorian that was said to be haunted, or when I could spend all night in after-hours clubs and still make it to work by nine AM. Marianne Dashwood of Sense and Sensibility, she of the tear-rimmed eyes and self-destructive tendencies, is who I was when consuming little more than espresso, Big-Gulp-size vodka martinis, and American Spirits was my idea of post-break-up nourishment. Emma is who I am when I get lost in the land of running-your-life-is-so-much-better-than-looking-at-my-own. I still wish I were as eloquent and sassy as Elizabeth Bennet of Pride and Prejudice, but the more I venture into the minefield of self-reflection, the more I appreciate Austen’s less incendiary heroines: the painfully timid Fanny Price of Mansfield Park, whom I used to dismiss as a prude; and the quietly steadfast Anne Elliot of Persuasion, who is the heroine with whom I connect the most. I find Anne’s depth of feeling and her vulnerability touching, and I admire her resourcefulness and strength. Even in a society where it is difficult to be alone, she manages to retreat into and be fortified by quiet contemplation and inner reflection. The two heroines I would like to advise are Anne Elliot and Fanny Price.  I would advise Anne to set some serious boundaries with her sisters. The word “no” would be a good one to try out with her entitled, hypochondriacal younger sister. And I’d propose something a bit more verbally colorful for the older one. Not that the gentle Anne would listen to me, but it might make her laugh. I’d advise Fanny Price of Mansfield Park to lighten up a little. She’s far too serious and judgmental, though I have learned, over time, to appreciate her steadfast moral integrity and refusal to be pressured. Nevertheless, if anyone needs to have a girls’ night out, it’s Fanny Price. I’d pay good money to see her get drunk and do something stupid. – Laurie Viera Rigler
  • I’ve always loved Catherine Morland, the novel-reading heroine-in-training of Northanger Abbey (which, I suppose, makes it somewhat less of a surprise that my short story turned out to be about a “Night at Northanger” rather than a “Morning at Mansfield”).  As an inveterate reader of gothics during my earlier years, I shared Catherine’s shudders and her hopes that behind that mysterious Japanned cabinet there might be… oh, drat, another laundry list.  When I first read Northanger, as a pre-teen, I was as disappointed as Catherine that the Abbey yielded only modern venality rather than ancient curses.  On later re-reads, I came to appreciate the brilliance of Austen’s social satire, her skewering of Isabella, her creation of Henry’s strengths and weaknesses and the delicate brush with which she painted Catherine’s gradual growth.  Here’s to heroines in training, wherever they may be! – Lauren Willig

Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter a chance to win one signed copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress by leaving a comment answering if you were an Austen heroine who would you be and why? Deadline to qualify for the drawing is 11:59 pm, Wednesday, August 29, 2012. The Winner will be announced on Thursday, August 30, 2012. Shipment Internationally. Good luck!

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books (2011)
Trade paperback (446) pages
ISBN: 978-0345524966

Read: Question 1, Question 2, Question 3

Please join us next Friday for the fifth of the fifteen questions and answers that will be posted over the next several weeks.


Laurel Ann

© 2012 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

34 thoughts on “Q & A with Jane Austen Made Me Do It Authors: Question 4 & Giveaway!

  1. As much as I love Elizabeth and Elinor, I do believe that I am more like Ann Elliot. Ann is a quiet girl on the outside who is screaming on the inside. She endures a lot as silently as she can, but after a while she will tell it like it is and let her true feelings be known! :)


  2. How I have always wanted to be Elizabeth!
    In truth, though, I am the sensible Elinor. I
    do so want to tell her that just a little bit of her mother and sister into the mix of her character could be a very good thing! Elinor is as much
    in danger from overdoing her moral convictions as her sister is from her emotional spontaneity and ruining her chance for real happiness.


  3. I would like to say I’m like Anne Elliot, so wise, long suffering and forgiving. However I’m probably more like Elizabeth Bennet who has a fine sense of the ridiculous and can laugh at herself; I have these traits as well.


  4. When I was young I definitely was Fanny Price.There are so many similarities and her emotions just speak to my soul. Now I am a little more secure in my own value, and I’d like to think that after beginning a life with Edmund, and as mistress of her own house, Fanny Bertram will be the same.


  5. I would probably be Anne Elliot, as I am reserved around those I do not know well, enjoy a quiet life, dislike cities, and am fiercely loyal. I also tend to let people talk me out of things, maybe more often than I should.


  6. My least favorite Austen novel was Sense and Sensibility and yet no matter how many tests I did, I always ended up being Elinor. At first I didn’t understand why and was in denial, but after re-reading the novel I started to know that I am Elinor. S&S still ranks at the bottom of my list, but I least I like it now.


  7. I’m somewhere in between Elizabeth Bennett and Anne Elliot. If I had to pick, I’d say I’m just a bit more like Lizzy. I’m outspoken and I don’t like convention for the sake of convention. I’m slightly impulsive, but in a smart sort of way.


  8. I would like to be like Elizabeth Bennet but only because I could use a bit more wit in my repertoire. I never have it when I need it and it never comes across charming. I have no idea which heroine I would actually be more in line with for my real personality. I think perhaps I agree with one of the authors above it really depends on the stage you’re at and the circumstances you’re in. When I was younger and my girls were younger I’d meddle in their choices, however I’m usually very insecure, quiet, fiercely loyal, concerned, and moral. I really enjoyed many of the comments from contributors.


  9. While I love S&S, to be honest, I’m probably most like Elizabeth. I’m not sure if I’m as witty, but I’m definitely as suspicious as she is. *laughs* She can be terribly realistic about other people (even if misplaced), yet at heart is a romantic because she wants to marry for love. I often chastise my friends for being too trusting, while all the while I’m hoping a perfect guy comes along.


  10. Oh Laurel Ann – I love Mary Crawford and I wish someone would write her story all ready!!! She is very much a modern woman- I guess misunderstood… JA gave her all the best lines!!!! And I just love that MsBirchall identifies with MrsElton. She is not my favorite character but I totally see the New Yorker in her now that it has been pointed out to me. I dont think I will see her any other way now. Hilarious.


  11. Definitely Anne Elliot – I feel this strange kinship with her. I understand her. I also see a bit of Elinor and Elizabeth in me too.


  12. I am not sure who I would be like the most and can relate to. I am a combinatiions of marianne dashwood, anne elliot, and fanny price


  13. I’ve always believed I’m like Elizabeth & Emma. Though my family is not at all similar to Lizzy’s or Emma’s, what happened to both of them literally happened to me in college! I met someone who’s truly the embodiment of Mr. Darcy and Mr. Knightley. I was also my friends’ matchmaker. A guy in one of the matches dared to tell me that he loved me and he became close to my friend just to know more about me (very Mr. Elton-like)! There was also a very Wickham-like man, who made me dislike “F. Knightley” more. When “F. Knightley” finally told me his affection for me, I told him his pride and ungentlemanly behavior repelled me and he was the last man on earth I would fall in love with. “F. Knightley” changed after my refusal; he became a real gentleman and he also introduced his sister to me, but his gentlemanly behavior attracted my friend too and it was not until then that I noticed my prejudice and dislike for him had gradually turned into respect and affection. Though I’ve read P&P and Emma so many times before I went to college, I just didn’t realize there was a striking similarity between the plots in dear Austen’s novels and what I was going through then!


  14. I’d be Elinor. It seems that compared to those around her she had to be the one to keep a level head and make the hard decisions, helping everyone to see reason. However, after a significant amount of suffering and insecurity she was rewarded with a good man who sincerely loved her. Hello my life.


  15. I’d have to be Anne Elliot. However, I would not be persuaded to ditch Captain Wentworth. I’d take him no matter what anyone said & be gloriously happy instead of just a shadow of a woman.


  16. I have always loved Elinor Dashwood. She was the best sister and best friend anyone could ask for. She is always thinking of the feelings of others before her own. I don’t presume to think I am like her, but she is the Austen heroine I strive to be.


  17. I have identified myself with aspects of several of the characters, so I cannot decide which among: ELIZABETH BENNETT re-thinking a romance with Darcy only after she sees his estate; ANNE ELLIOT, because of accepting others advice to her own detriment and unhappiness; EMMA’s meddling which has the best of intentions but which shows a certain conceit, in that she always thinks she knows better/best; MARIANE Dashwood’s desire for a grand passion, which nearly leads to a complete downfall, both physical and emotional. Call me “guilty on all counts”. Unfortunately. Don’t I deserve a free copy?!?


  18. I do not connect with anyone Thier world is so very far from mine That is the reason I love to read these books and get lost in them . I would like to say to Mr Knightly and Cl Brandon to go find better ladies to marry. They deserve better.


  19. I try to be sensible like Elizabeth Bennett, but I could be a little bit like Catherine Morland. Elizabeth is sensible and knew she could never marry Mr. Collins so she didn’t, even though it would mean keeping their home in their family.


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