Austen as Antidote

No Telling

I think I’ve found the cure for all this political doublespeak and tragic economy and war: Escapism.

The only thing better than a rich, fat novel is six thick volumes, all nicely bound and lovingly reproduced with original 19th century illustrations. Ahhh. A full set of The Oxford Illustrated Jane Austen.

In my bi-monthly bookshelf scalping for The Ultimate Shelf-Cleaning Book Giveaway, I ran across this set and realized I’d never read Mansfield Park. Never. Not one page. It was like finding a hundred dollar bill in the pocket of last year’s coat. And even though Anderson Cooper crooned about political strategies in the background, I turned off the TV.

For a half-second I wondered what might happen if our Jane were transported from her century into ours and – all techno fright aside – what she might think of a gal like Sarah Palin. Can you imagine? It’s like those bizarre beauty contest questions that asks you to assemble a dinner table full of people, living or dead, for an evening of high conversation.

Jane Austen and Sarah Palin across the Limoges. One talking nonsensically nonstop and the other, well, probably taking notes for some low character in her next book.

Since I’d rather not take to drink over all this horror, I’ve decided to take to Austen instead. I’m talking 565 pages, with appendices. Portable Heaven and no scrolling ticker.

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