Announcing the Motherhood & Jane Austen Book Club

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motherhood and jane austen-1 Sometimes I have wild ideas that just get filed away in the dream category, lost in a Moleskine notebook on a dusty shelf. But every once in a while, an idea comes to me that stays with me, nudging me with its presence in various forms, in a way I can't shake.

It happened that way when I started writing about intentional community. That vision started growing in my heart a while ago and continues to surprise me when it comes back around over and over again.

I think it was the Gwenyth version of Emma back when I was in High School that really sparked a love for Jane. After seeing the movie, and discovering and thoroughly devouring the book, I moved on to Pride & Prejudice. My trusted BFF introduced me to the A&E miniseries, shortly thereafter and of course, I was completely hooked on Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy at that point, long before Kiera Knightly (but I'm a big fan of both modern adaptations).

And when Kathleen Kelly referenced P&P in You've Got Mail, I began to realize how widespread this general love of Jane is. Now, years later, I'm still amazed by the amount of Jane Austen articles, fan fiction, movies and general affection that continues to surface 200 hundred years after her books were first published.

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So it only seems natural to come together on a literary adventure like this one: reading all six of her novels in 2014 through the lens of motherhood.

Jane Austen's novels are chock full of interesting mothers, mother figures, absent mothers and young women who we imagine may become mothers later. We will discuss these characters, how they affect the plot, how they make us feel as mothers, how they relate to mothers we know, and more, along with general discussion about the novels, and why we love reading them (or don't!).

Will this make us better mothers? Maybe, maybe not. But it will give us perspective, get our eyes off ourselves and our time, give us character traits to study, and hopefully, it will help us discover something new about ourselves and motherhood. I'm almost certain it will get us thinking on a deeper level, which is always good amidst the diapers and laundry and homework.

And most importantly, it will get us connecting and interacting together around a shared love of literature.

In all my reading about Jane, there is a lot of talk about women, but not as much discussion on the mother figures. So I invite you to forge into this territory with us to ask questions that maybe not many have thought to ask.

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How it will work

It's pretty simple. Join our Facebook group, and start reading Pride and Prejudice.

That's the first novel we'll be reading. Over the next two months we'll have casual discussions in our Facebook group and then we'll wrap up that novel with a Google+ Hangout where a few of us will moderate a fun discussion.

I have an amazing group of women who are joining me to moderate the discussions and help host the Hangouts and I'll be introducing them to you soon. I know they're going to bring some great insight to our club, as will you all who join us as well!

The Books

Schedule of reading: (month listed is when we will finish each book by for our Hangout discussion)

2. (April) Mansfield Park
3. (June) Persuasion
4. (Aug) Emma

anthro P and PI've linked to a simple, yet beautiful version of each book if you want to buy a nice copy, but you could also definitely check your library or used bookstore. And if you have an eReader, you can download electronic copies of the books for free through Project Gutenberg!

I'm currently alternating between reading the epub (for Nook) and paper versions of P&P -- because sometimes you just need to feel the pages in your hand, am I right?

There are so many beautiful versions of the books as a set though that would make a lovely addition to any home library (such as this set or this volume). My husband gifted me the set pictured in this post (Vol 1. and Vol 2.) a few years ago and I love having all the novels in two books. I also adore the Mr. Boddington's version of P&P from Anthropologie.

FAQs

What if I'm not up for reading all six?

That's okay, feel free to join us for whichever novels you want.

What if I'm not a mom?

We will still welcome you! You will no doubt still have valuable insights to share as we discuss the various mother figures in the books, and chances are you have experience with your own mother or mother figure that will shape your view point. By all means, join the fun!

What if I'm not on Facebook? 

You will unfortunately not be able to take part in the ongoing discussions as those will be in a Facebook group, but I will post on the blog when we are ready to wrap up each book with a Google Hangout, and you can definitely join us there.

More questions? Leave them in the comments and I'll update this post with answers.

So that's it! I really hope you'll join us. Let's dig in to the wonderful world of Austen.

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