“Why Jane Austen Matters”

I am just reading an article in the online Charlotte Observer by Kay McSpadden on Why Jane Austen Matters.  McSpadden is a high school English teacher in South Carolina and writes of her student’s love of reading, and how Jane Austen speaks to them.  I am reminded again of why Austen matters to me, but I put the question out there to you … as her December 16th birthday approaches, and we here in our Vermont JASNA Chapter prepare for the annual tea celebration on December 7th, I wonder,  why does Jane Austen matter to you?  Please comment! ~ I would like to share some of your responses at our gathering.  Thank you!