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).
- Why? (for either answer)?
- 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.