“The Jane Austen Project” has been out in the world for two and a half years now, and I’ve given up thinking that anything else will ever happen involving it. (Though I suppose Andrew Davies could call at any moment wanting to follow up on the critical and popular acclaim of “Sanditon” by making “Project” into a mini-series, for instance, the chances seem small. )Two and a half years later, having published a novel feels quite a lot like not having published a novel. I am struggling to write a second and wondering what I think I am doing.
So it is gratifying when something happens to remind me that the book still exists out in the world. A few weeks ago I got an email from a woman inviting me to come and visit her book club. Although doing so involved a trip by commuter rail in the middle of the workweek, I accepted the invitation, if apprehensively, telling myself it would be “good to meet readers.” To put my thumb on the pulse of the reading public. But the warm welcome I got from the book club exceeded anything I could possibly have hoped for. Its members’ questions made it clear they had read the novel closely and with great sympathy and penetration: that they were, in fact, the sort of ideal reader one always dreams of encountering in real life and seldom does.
One “ideal reader” experience per month is a lot! But yesterday, it got better, when Girl With Her Head in Book, a British book blogger I’ve long admired, published a review of “Project” that made it equally clear that she understood exactly what I had set out to do (and approved):
…A direct confrontation between our twenty-first social mores and those of Georgian Britain. Skating over the particulars of the time travel mechanism, The Jane Austen Project is less science fiction and more thought experiment.
To say I was honored and touched by this review would be a huge understatement. The praise was kind, but it was more than that. To be understood is what we all ever hope for in sending out into the world something we’ve created, and when it happens it is always an enormous thrill. Thank you, “Girl,” so much.