The Sunday Salon: Jane Austen at the Flower Show

Today is the last day of the Philadelphia Flower Show, an annual extravaganza devoted to gardening and horticulture.  This year’s “Brilliant!” theme revolved around all things British.  When I visited the show last Sunday I was ready to take in all the pomp and circumstance, and all the grandeur.  In addition, acting on a tip from the Jane Austen Society of North America, and the serendipitously timed Classics Club March Meme, I was also keen to discover a bit of Jane Austen at the show.  More on that in a minute.  The day before visiting the Flower Show, The Classics Club posed this question:

Do you love Jane Austen or want to “dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone”? (Phrase borrowed from Mark Twain).

  1. Why? (for either answer)?
  2. Favorite and/or least favorite Austen novel?

If you follow this blog, you’ll already know I love Jane Austen.  Just search on her name, and you’ll find reviews and thoughts.  I’ve read each of her novels once, and am working my way through the cycle again.  A two-year-old post, Why I read Jane Austen, answers the Classics Club’s first question and since it’s one of my favorite posts, I see no reason to write another!  My friend Tui described her love for Austen in a way that really clicked, and started me on my own “reread one each year” plan:

Every winter at some point, I reread a Jane Austen and have for decades. Why? Every time I do, something new comes out of each book but also it is like walking and talking with a good friend, sharing her observations of everything from nature to people.

Before I started rereading, I considered Persuasion my favorite Austen novel.  But now I’m not sure.  I’ve reread Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Sense and Sensibility, and with each one I discovered new gems and insight I missed the first time around.  I don’t think I can name a favorite, or a least favorite!

Now, about the Flower Show.  The first thing visitors see is this huge replica of Big Ben, visible from just about anywhere in the show:

At one point, you might think you’ve stumbled into the London Underground:

In the midst of all these larger-than-life exhibits, I turned a corner and came across a row of faux shop windows and doorways, all decorated in British themes.  And suddenly, there was Jane, courtesy of the Jane Austen Society of North America’s Eastern Pennsylvania region:

I loved this small cottage entrance adorned with the opening line from Pride and Prejudice. Poking out of the letterbox is a missive addressed to Lizzie Bennett — no doubt from Mr. Darcy!  There’s a lovely stack of books with a cup of tea close at hand, and of course the inevitable silhouette of Jane herself.

This was a lovely oasis amidst the throng of visitors, just as Austen’s novels can offer a nice quiet space to escape from the busy-ness of everyday living.  Be sure to stop by The Classics Club or follow #ccmeme on Twitter, to see what others are saying about Jane Austen.

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9 thoughts on “The Sunday Salon: Jane Austen at the Flower Show

    • It was a lovely day, Kaggsy. There were some very inspiring exhibits which got me all excited about getting out into my garden this year.

  1. I find that with Austen too – every reread, I make a new discovery! I haven’t reread her for a while, though, but back when I was in my late teens and early twenties, I’d do a yearly reread. I really should start doing this again!

    • Belle, yes, why not begin again? I do my annual reread in February, because it’s such a dreary month here and it’s just the thing to brighten my mood.

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    • Brona, how funny we both took a similar approach to this meme! I loved your original Austen post where you chose Persuasion as your all-time favorite. I could easily make the same choice and it will be interesting to see if I feel the same way after completing my re-reading cycle. Thanks for visiting!

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