There is one book that I never pack when we move.
Back in 1998 or so, I first was introduced to Jane Austen. We were travelling to Sydney the next day and I happened to catch one of the early episodes of Pride and Prejudice – the miniseries with Colin Firth as Mr Darcy – on the ABC. The story drew me in.
The next day we were at the airport, both in Adelaide and in Sydney, and I looked for the book. No joy. Why airport bookstores do not stock the classics, I have no idea.
So that night I went to bed wanting to read the book Pride and Prejudice, but not having it.
The next day we ended up in the main street of Sydney where all the shops are. It was an alien world to me – I knew the city of Adelaide like the back of my hand, where all the shops were, where to go and find what I needed or wanted. So I was completely lost and it was raining and the streets seemed slightly scary.
I can’t remember where or how but I did find a bookstore, and I found this book – The Complete Novels Of Jane Austen. It does not contain Love and Friendship (which I have never read yet) but it does have the 7 other stories that I love and can read over and over again without getting bored.
This book has travelled all over Australia with me. It never leaves my bedside when I am at home, it is the one book that never gets put on the bookshelves. It always stays on my night stand.
On the day where the nightstand gets moved, it will be picked up and placed next to my handbag where it will wait for me/us to leave.
It will travel next to me in the car if I am the driver – on my lap, if I am the passenger.
It will wait be placed next to my handbag in the new house, and once the nightstand is in the new spot, it will be placed on the nightstand.
That night, as my books will not be unpacked yet, I will probably pick it up. If I am not already in the middle of one of the stories, I will allow it to fall open to where it feels like, and then the book will have chosen which of the stories I will read next. I will turn back to the first page of that story and begin to read until I get too sleepy to continue.
It’s one of my favourite books and you can read it over and over, it never gets old. Most people who read a book will want to change the story in some way and for me the thing that needs changing in Pride and Prejudice is the part where Elizabeth goes to Pemberley and meets Mr Darcy on his enormous and very expensive estate.
It always leaves one wondering, if he had *not* had a lovely country estate and ten thousand a year, would she have chosen him?
To me the book is brilliant but it would have been even better if she had met him again somewhere else and hadn’t gone to his estate until they were already married.
Would you change the book, if you’re a fan of it?