I was a late convert to Jane Austen fandom. I have many girlfriends who love her, but my first attempt to read one of her novels had me falling asleep before finishing the first chapter. I did, however, love movies based on her work, starting with Sense and Sensibility (1995) starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant. I also enjoyed Pride and Prejudice (2005) starring Keira Knightley. In the intervening years, I had managed to read through several of Austen's novels and become a big fan.
Having two sons, I never expected to share the love of Austen's romanticism and wit with my progeny. It was enough that my husband would allow me to snuggle while watching the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice (1995) and not mind the drooling when Firth steps out of the pool.
The boys surprised me tonight. Enjoying a rare evening off from work, my husband had the Keira Knightly version of P&P on TV for me, overruling the boys' request for a Harry Potter marathon. They wandered into the dining room after dinner for other digital amusements.
Then Mr. Darcy's first proposal arrives, and Elizabeth Bennet's passionate declaration that Mr. Darcy "is the last man on Earth I would ever be persuaded to marry!" caught their attention. "Ouch!" exclaimed the Tween from the other room, and the 9 year-old giggled aloud in disbelief, adding, "That's so mean!"
Curious, they wandered back into the TV room to see the scene finish, and DH and I explained they might be even more surprised to learn that Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet do end up together at the end. (OK, no spoiler alert, but come on--who doesn't know that! And yes, more spoilers coming for those not familiar with the story.) "No way!" they both responded, and brought their portable electronic devices in to multi-task as they watched this improbable conclusion unfold. As each scene referred to previous events, we filled them in. They were actually interested in why the middle daughter running away with Wickham was such a big deal. Presciently, Barley commented, "If he gets her sister back for her, they are so totally going out!"
At bedtime, Barley asked to stay up to see the end of the movie, because "it's actually pretty good." Sure, that might just have been a ploy for more time, but it still made his mother's heart very, very happy. Austen scores two more fans and another generation is hooked.