“Now I must give one smirk, then we may be rational again”

A guest-post from JANEITE MAE, a JASNA-Vermont member, who writes most happily of our June 22 meeting on Northanger Abbey and the history of JASNA:

What a merry party we were at the Vermont chapter meeting on Sunday. Several members having sent their apologies (it is the summer, after all), twenty-four Vermont (and New Hampshire) Janeites gathered in the Conference Room at the Hauke Family Campus Center, Champlain College, for an afternoon of lively discussion, camaraderie, and just plain fun.

The activities began with former JASNA president Lorraine Hanaway’s presentation on the beginnings of JASNA in the late 1970’s. It was interesting to hear about how it all started. (Who knew that JASNA’s formation was due in large part to the urgent need for restroom privileges at Chawton?) Then we were treated to 94-year-old Mildred Darrow’s musings on being a long-time Janeite. How many of us could disagree with her observation that “my favorite Austen novel is the one I just finished reading”?

The dramatic readings from Northanger Abbey were a lot of fun. Janeite Deb provided accessories and props for the readers to help them get into character. Could anyone resist a chuckle at Catherine’s innocence, or a smirk at Henry’s teasing?!

Following the readings, we joined in a group discussion of Northanger Abbey. Topics included:  What does Henry see in Catherine?  How does the voice of the narrator in Northanger Abbey differ from that of Austen’s other novels? and, of course, what people thought of the two television films adapted from the novel.

An interesting twist to the discussion came when Lorraine shared with us her idea that Amy Heckerling, screenwriter of the film Clueless, could write a fun screenplay of Northanger Abbey as an animated film. Lorraine suggested that John Thorpe should be a walrus and Catherine a goose. Personally, I found this an intriguing idea. I wondered which animal should represent Isabella? (Some suggested a cat.) And what about Mrs. Allen? Imagine the possibilities! Imagine the fun! Imagine John Thorpe as a walrus. (Perhaps you already have?)

All kidding aside, though, I was very pleased to finally attend a gathering in my home state of people who share a love of Jane Austen. It was the realization of a long-time wish. And what a surprise to bump into Debbie L. upstairs at Barnes & Noble on the very next afternoon. We looked quizzically at each other and said at the same time, “Weren’t you at JASNA yesterday?” Debbie said it best: “It was wonderful to be in the same room with so many people who were so knowledgeable about Jane Austen’s novels,” to which I replied, “And no one thought we were strange.”

[ Submitted by Janeite Mae ]

One thought on ““Now I must give one smirk, then we may be rational again”

  1. Pingback: Still Re-Reading Austen at 94! a Conversation with Mildred Darrow « Jane Austen in Vermont

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