Thursday, October 2, 2008

Reading Happy Hour

I'm thinking of starting a recurring thing here called the Reading Happy Hour. Sometimes when I am reading - at least once per book - I come across a certain line or description that makes me want to put down the book and hunt around for someone who is reading the exact same page so I can discuss it. That never happens, sadly. 

So today's Reading Happy Hour comes from Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. In chapter 8, Marianne and Elinor are discussing the marital prospects of one Colonel Brandon who at the advanced at of 35 (!) is considered quite the crotchety old man by 17 year-old Marianne. Elinor contends that his age is not so very advanced while Marianne is convinced that romance is not meant for the elderly (apparently those over 25). 
"Perhaps," said Elinor, "thirty-five and seventeen had better not have anything to do with matrimony together. But if there should be any chance happen to be a woman who is single and seven and twenty, I should not think Colonel Brandon's being thirty-five any objection to his marrying her."

A woman of seven and twenty, said Marianne after pausing a moment, can never hope to feel or inspire affection again, and if her home be uncomfortable, or her fortune small, I can suppose that she might bring herself to submit to the offices of a nurse for the sake of the provision and security of a wife. In his marrying such a woman therefore there would be nothing unsuitable. It would be a compact of convenience, and the world would be satisfied. In my eyes it would be no marriage at all, but that would be nothing. To me it would seem only a commercial exchange in which each wished to be benefited at the expense of the other."

Marianne really is the most silly but delightful character. At seventeen in the Regency era, she translates beautifully to teenage girls today. Who, at 13, 15, 17, can ever imagine a person at 35 falling in love? I know at that age I most certainly couldn't. And, like Marianne, I was quite sure that the love of my life was waiting just around the next corner. That's the magic of Austen. She transcends time and her stories are universal. I love Marianne and I love, love, love that at 17, she is the perfect silly match to Colonel Brandon's stodgy 35. For Marianne, love was just around the corner. Her 17 year-old eyes just took awhile to focus on the prize. 

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