We have never met before, the occurrence of your death more than a hundred years before my birth roundly precluding that possibility, but I hope you will permit me the familiarity of referring to you by your given name. Since my youth, I have read your books and loved them (most of them anyway), and I feel as though we are kindred spirits, a great presumption, I know.
Two of your books rank among my tippy-top favorite books of all time, Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey, but I write to you today, dear Jane, to speak of the former. P&P has become your most beloved and enduring work for a reason, and, though you're not here to celebrate, we're honoring your most popular work with fanfare and pomp.
Sadly, I cannot remember the precise circumstances of my first trip around England with Elizabeth Bennet. However, I do know that I was young, somewhere from eleven to thirteen. My mother had suggested P&P and I was still young enough not to automatically balk at the suggestion from some silly sense of teenage rebellion. Your characters mesmerized me almost immediately, and I sped through the book. I was insulted with Elizabeth when he refused to stand up with her, laughing uproariously every time Caroline Bingley's flirtation attempts backfired, confused but moved by Darcy's first proposal, giggling like the school girl I was when Darcy and Elizabeth meet up so tentatively in Derbyshire, crushed by Lydia's idiocy, applauded Elizabeth's responses to Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and wept with happiness when those two crazy kids finally came to an understanding. Rarely has a book impacted me with so much emotion.
Through the years, I have revisited Darcy and Elizabeth more times than I can count. Unlike some lesser works, the story never diminishes, and, in fact, I find new qualities to love about P&P every time. As I grew older and gained more of an education, I discovered the subtle cutting wit and social commentary, which I think makes P&P a companion to Oscar Wilde's work.
Unfortunately, it has been a couple of years since I have returned to Pemberley, but I'm thinking I must do so quite soon. As a woman of a certain age where her friends are all wedding, but remaining somewhat determinedly single myself, I have a new lens through which to view Elizabeth's choices than I did as a younger, more romantically-minded person.
Dearest Jane, words fail to properly convey to you the feelings of my heart, but please allow to share with you some moving pictures from the internet (don't worry about what that is), so that Mr. Darcy can speak for me.
Your friend ever,