A lot of my teenage years were spent with my nose in a book. There wasn't a lot to do in the Hove suburbs, so without the distraction of a mobile phone, reading, playing hockey or drinking cider in the park were pretty much the extent of a social life. And it was reading that took me into another world. These journeys were varied, while at home I loved Sylvia Plath and Dorothy Parker, I worked Saturdays in a bookshop and used to read the latest bestsellers between serving customers at the till. SAS heroes, or cheesy romantic novels, everything was fair game to take me away from grey Boundary Road in Hove to a more exciting world.
I also loved a TV adaptation of a book, and so, when the BBC advertised its series of Pride and Prejudice it was a given I would be tuning in, although I hadn’t read any Jane Austen. After studying Chaucer, Canterbury Tales and Hardy at school, I (in a teenage manner) felt that books from the century I was living in resonated with me much more than the classics. I loved fabric and fashion so that really was the main reason why I tuned in.
Well, what an introduction this was to Jane Austen. There must be many other people of a similar age who also fell in love with Austen in 1995 due to the show. The actors, the costume the script, the filming – it was, and it is still is my top comfort TV. If I have had a bad day, there is nothing like a bit of smoldering Darcy to soothe the soul!
So, understanding book adaptations are just that, I decided to read Pride and Prejudice, which was then followed by Sense and Sensibility, Emma, Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. Since then my pile of JA books has never been far from my bedside table, and when I am having a book cull they are never even considered for the chop.
I never imaged my path would cross with the regency world of Jane’s, and then earlier this year I spotted an advertisement for a quilt facilitator on the Facebook page of the Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton. I thought ‘oh, that sounds amazing’ and so sent off a CV, had an interview and am now writing this one month into the project.
It is important for us to record the project, and one of the ways I am (personally) doing this is to write a journal. So I could keep photos with it I have been visiting Boots and getting them printed. Real-life proper photos! Very retro and much more enjoyable than just having them on a screen. I will put updates on the blog, but here’s the photo I took on the first day at the house – how dreamy is this…