Ever had a sneaking suspicion you might be in a Jane Austen novel?

Most of us at some time or another wonder what our purpose is. Why are we here, is this some giant science experiment run by mice, am I the figment of someone’s imagination or am I a character in a novel? Perhaps even a Jane Austen novel. Well, fortunately for us the very talented Mallory Ortberg (who I think has the excellent taste to be friends with the lovely bluemilk(?)) has made it easy with this simple test.

How to tell if you are in a Jane Austen novel.

You develop a resentment at a public dance.

Someone you know has fallen ill. Not melodramatically ill, just interestingly so.

A man proposes to you, then to another, lesser woman when you politely spurn him. This delights you to no end.

This also reminds me to go back and re-read some Jane Austen novels.

But wait there is more!

How to tell if you are in a Charles Dickens novel;

A coachman treats you saucily.

How to tell if you are in a Muriel Spark novel; [note to self read Muriel Spark novels]

For anyone wishing to concentrate deeply on a writing project, you suggest acquiring a cat.

and How to tell if you are in a Dashiell Hammet novel.

Someone’s been shot with a gun. You’re not sure who did it, but you’re pretty sure that whoever it was had a gun with them.

h/t to Tim on FB.

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14 replies

  1. ::snicker:: Well, I’m not in any of those writers’ novels. I can only say that there’d be an awful lot of skip-to-the-next-chapter stuff in whatever novel I’m in.

    For anyone wishing to concentrate deeply on a writing project, you suggest acquiring a cat.

    This is a cruel and evil suggestion. That’s one of the best ways to be constantly interrupted while trying to write! Nowhere near the level of sprog-interruption, I realise, but pretty high up the list.
    Not a writer, but someone trying to work:

  2. I never have thought I might be in a book, but I have occasionally wondered if I was living in a soap opera…

  3. angharad – haha, at high school, a friend and I wrote a soap opera based on our group of friends. At least, it started out that way …

  4. You are far more intelligent than and morally superior to everyone else you know.

    You have beautiful eyes.

    You are several thousand pounds short of the 10 000 you need to be eligible for sale in marriage. This is not viewed as lucky.

    Women who have 10 000 pounds are all far less intelligent, moral and likeable than you.

    Your social worth is measured by the carriage your father/brother/husband keeps. A barouche trumps a coach and four.

  5. What car would Fitzwilliam/Edmund/Edward/Henry/George be driving?
    Darcy – an Audi or a Beamer?
    Edmund Bertram would drive a Volvo.
    Mr. Knightley – I don’t know. A Merc?
    Henry Crawford would definitely drive a Porsche.
    Notice, I assume they would all drive imports.
    Your mother calls your father “Mr.”

    • Notice, I assume they would all drive imports.

      Oh no. Mr Darcy would have his choice between the Royce and the Bentley and the Aston and the Morgan, and Mr Knightley would stick with the classic Bentley.
      Henry Crawford in a Porsche I could definitely imagine, although perhaps more likely a Ferrari, but Edmund Bertram in a Volvo I’m not so sure about. I think a traditional reliable endurable country Land Rover would be more his speed.

  6. eilish – I’d have thought Mr Darcy would drive a classic British car. No idea what type, ‘cos I know zip about cars. 🙂
    Mr Wickham would drive some flashy little sports thing, I suppose.

  7. The Aston for Darcy and the Bentley for Knightley if we all lived in England.
    I am perhaps being harsh on Edmund and a Land Rover is indeed the car for him.
    I’m not sure the advertising would draw him in.

  8. Surely Mr Darcy would drive an E-type Jaguar?

  9. I have political objections to being English. The furthest I could go is Truro, and the farthest she could go was Lyme. I would have to be in an Austenland style remake where the frocks would not nearly be as good. How depressing.
    Edmund is daggy, but not that daggy. He has enough style and cash that Mary thinks he passes before her friends. He wouldn’t in a really old Land Rover.
    A Jag for Darcy? Hmm. I could see it.
    What would Bingley drive? An MG wouldn’t have room for his sisters in the back. An S-type Jag, seeing how he’d be influenced by Darcy?

    • eilish, I don’t think you understand the place in the gentrified English world of the daggy old Land Rover. The Queen drives one around Balmoral (eta: and that image I showed you was an advertising shot for posh country outfitters Burberry).

  10. You’re right tigtog, I don’t. If the Queen and Burberry endorse it, then I can see Edmund would totes have one. Mary Crawford would want him to upscale, though.

    • Yes, I’m sure she would want him to also have an elegant town car, because town and country are different things. I doubt though that he could afford to have a house in town, given that he was dependent on a patron giving him a “living” as a vicar, and Mary’s fortune alone would not have been enough for them to have one: that’s why she wanted him to take up a profession where he might make his own fortune.
      The old families of England love things which can be handed down through generations: (a) it’s thrifty, and (b) it shows others just how long one’s family has been posh. Wearing one’s fathers or grandmother’s Burberry is the done thing on shooting parties (it’s a terrible faux pas to turn up to a country house weekend with all-new gear, just as an expensive house full of new furniture is a sign of the nouveau riche who don’t have grandmothers and aunts who bequeathe them antique furniture). Properly maintained, those old Land Rovers just go on and on and on and on, and you can’t really buy old ones in good condition any more, so to own one signifies that one’s family has had it for decades and had the staff to keep it ticking over all that time i.e. proper posh.

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