Sense and Readability

Feb 6, 2020

Jane Austen to the Rescue!
by Rebecca Howard
Tulsa City-County Library

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader in need of a smart and satisfying love story must start with Jane Austen. I’m an unapologetic Austenite. I love the wit, social commentary, and intelligence in her novels. But even more, I love the compassion and psychological astuteness with which she created her heroines. Her stories allow us to suspend our cynicism and be swept up in a sense of hopefulness. The world is set to right by the end. 

There’s a reason why these stories persist--why Pride and Prejudice is mythologized. We trust Austen to give us our happy ending, even if we’re not happy-ending people. I have a high tolerance for darkness and ambiguity in my reading, but Austen is never going to ask that of me. For that, I’m grateful. For enemies who turn into soul mates, meddling sisters who are put in their places, bookish, soon-to-be spinsters who land the man and Pemberley, I am grateful.

While I’m not often a reader of romances in the bodice-ripping sense of the word, I definitely enjoy a good romantic comedy. Here are a couple of my favorites, in the event you’re wanting a little Austen-esque escape this Valentine’s Day (or any day).

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
Economic realities drive Tiffy to answer an ad to share a one-bedroom apartment with Leon. A nurse working the night-shift, Leon will have the apartment by day; Tiffy by night. They likely will never even meet. You see where this is going, right? 

Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes
Evvie is dealing with a complicated grief after the loss of her husband in a car accident. Dean is a major league baseball pitcher who can no longer throw. When he rents her apartment, they learn how to start the next chapters of their lives. 

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell
Beth and Jennifer are best friends and coworkers who overshare on work email. Lincoln is the IT guy who is monitoring it all and unwittingly falling in love with Beth. Completely charming and a lovely throw-back to the late 1990s. 

And, if you can’t get enough Austen adaptations, here’s a list of some of my favorites.