1 - What was the first JA novel you ever read, and who introduced you to it?
The first Jane Austen novel I read for myself was Northanger Abbey. My parents had introduced me to several of the 1990's film adaptations (from age 10-13) and when I saw my mom reading Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice I wanted to try reading them myself. I chose Northanger Abbey because it was shorter than the other books and at age 13 it took me reading over the first couple of chapters a few times before I was actually able to understand the language and read the rest of the book. It fell in love with the characters from Northanger Abbey and it's still my favorite!
2 - Which is your least favorite JA novel, and why? (Everybody posts about their favorites... I want to know what's at the bottom of your list!)
Probably my least favorite novel would have to be Pride and Prejudice. "What!?!" you ask. "Are you CRAZY!?!?!?" Well let's just agree that I am. ;)
I'm not sure why it's my least favorite really. Perhaps it's a combination of a lot of little pet peeves I have.
I don't really identify with Elizabeth Bennet, even though I admirer her. I have quite a different personality than her (I'm more like an Elinor Dashwood) so on occasion her more out-going and feisty personality gets a bit tedious to me. Mr. Darcy is my least favorite hero mostly because although he is a gentleman he can also be quite a snob at times (sorry!). Also Mrs. Bennet, Lydia, Wickham and Mr. Collins drive me crazy! Yes they are funny but they also can make me mad (especially Lydia!). One definite reason that P&P has less appeal to me now is that I've probably watched too many film adaptations too often. Also it seems that many people have copied the story line of Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's romance in other books and films. I'm a bit sorry that P&P gets a lot of the attention from media and fans when Jane Austen wrote five other amazing novels. Sometimes I think that just once I'd like to say "I love Jane Austen. You know, she's the author of..." without having to mention Pride and Prejudice.
Now, all that being said (and lest you think me completely horrid), I would still adore Jane Austen if the only novel she had written was Pride and Prejudice. My love for Jane Austen's work as a whole far outweighs my love of every other author. Picking a least favorite Austen novel is very difficult!
3 - Who do you think is the funniest character JA ever created?
Wow! This is a tricky question. Miss Austen created such amazing characters and one of her great talents was creating comical characters! But on the other hand it's true that many of the characters we love to laugh at can also be annoying at times. I do love to laugh at the sayings of Mrs. Jennings from Sense and Sensibility, Miss Bates from Emma and Mr. Bennet from Pride and Prejudice. Mr. Tilney from Northanger Abbey is probably my favorite intentionally witty character.
Also one of my favorite funny scenes is in Persuasion when Admiral Croft talks to Anne Elliot of the improvements he's made to Kellynch Hall: "I have done very little besides sending away some of the large looking-glasses from my dressing-room, which was your father's. A very good man, and very much the gentleman I am sure; but I should think, Miss Elliot" (looking with serious reflection), "I should think he must be rather a dressy man for his time of life. Such a number of looking-glasses! oh Lord! there was no getting away from oneself." (Persuasion, Chapter 13)
4 - Which JA villain[ess] do you love to hate?
Currently the pair that are driving me crazy are Mary and Henry Crawford from Mansfield Park. I was actually starting to like Mary Crawford a little bit because of her kindness to Fanny but we soon find out that her kindness was motivated by her own selfish desires. Henry Crawford is driving me crazy too because he won't leave sweet Fanny alone! He must have his own way. The Crawfords are both very selfish and very worldly.
5 - What's your favorite JA quote?
Oh dear! Tricky one!
"There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort." - Mrs. Elton, Emma
"The person, be it gentlemen or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolderably stupid." - Henry Tilney, Northanger Abbey
"We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be." - Fanny Price, Mansfield Park
6 - If you were to "start" someone on JA, which book would you recommend to them first and why?
I'd probably recommend Pride and Prejudice or Northanger Abbey because they seem easier to get into and easily identify with the characters. They start with very witty remarks and we very soon get into the meat of the story with lots of dialog. They are also shorter then Emma and Mansfield Park so they won't be as daunting for a Jane Austen "beginner".
7 - What is your absolute favorite JA film adaptation and why?
Another difficult question! But I always come back to Persuasion (1995) because I still find it to be so incredibly close to the book. I love the cast, the pace, the music and the script. My second favorite would probably be Emma (2009).
8 - If you could authorize a new film adaptation of one of JA's novels, which would it be and why?
Hmm...I'd definitely want a new Mansfield Park miniseries that would be in the style of Emma (2009) and Pride and Prejudice (1995). I wouldn't mind being a co-writer of the script and co-director.
Another I'd love to see made into a film is Lady Susan. I don't know why no one has made a film adaptation of it yet. Although written in letters and with a rather shortened ending, Lady Susan is a completed story. I'd love to see it done with lots of scenes of letters being written during the course of the film. The characters are quite interesting as well!
9 - Which JA character do you most identify with?
Although my personality is more like Elinor Dashwood, I find myself more and more identifying with Catherine Morland. She came from a close-knit family who schooled their children at home. She hard learned many things but found at how much she didn't know when she was put into the great city of Bath and made terrible blunders at Northanger Abbey. She also enjoyed reading romance and mystery stories like me.
10 - If you could have lunch with JA today, what question would you most like to ask her?
Lunch with Jane Austen would delightful! I hope there would be plenty of time to ask her many questions!
Maybe the first question I'd ask her would be "Which of your characters are you most like?" In hopes that her answer would give me more of an idea of her personality. I'd also want to ask her lots about how she came up the ideas for her characters and stories. I'd ask her the details of how exactly The Watsons and Sanditon were going to end. And I'd particularly ask her one question that still bugs me: "what was Colonel Brandon's first name?" :)
11 - Is there any one thing that you think could have been improved upon in one (or all) of JA's books? What is it and why?
Maybe in the way of adding extra scenes to the shorter books. I especially miss not having particulars about the proposal scenes in a few of her novels. It would be so interesting to find out how Henry Tilney, Edmund Bertram, Edward Ferrars and Colonel Brandon proposed to their beloved heroines. And I still feel that more information about Eleanor Tilney's viscount husband could have been given.
12 - If you could have lunch with one of JA's characters today, who would it be and why?
Well, it would probably be wise of me to choose a character like Mrs. Jennings, Miss Bates or Mrs. Bennet who is prone to gossip and thereby learn most by talking to them. But I'd love to have a tete-a-tete with Eleanor Tilney or Fanny Price, they would both be charming company!
13 - (optional) Why is Miss Dashwood so fond of asking "why"?
Perhaps like Miss Austen herself, Miss Dashwood is interested not only in what people think but why and how they came to those thoughts. But then again perhaps she just likes longer answers! ;)
Thank you Miss Dashwood! These questions were so much fun to answer!