Jane Austen in Quarantine

There’s been a little flurry of Austen-flavored memes lately, like this one: and why not? From a modern perspective, affluent Regency men and women were probably past masters at social distancing and spent a good deal of time indoors (well, at least the women did). The recent, timely release of the latest Emma adaptation has gifted viewers with a bit of gentle escapism wrapped up in confectionary costumes and sparkling dialogue. So, Janeites, unite! Now is the time to brew a cuppa, pull up your chaise longue, and succumb to some therapeutic Austen-mania!

To start with, why not revisit the classic 1990’s adaptation of Emma starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Jeremy Northam? The heroine Jane thought “no one but myself will much like” has enjoyed perennial popularity. And there’s so much comfort to a story in which nothing worse than a few matchmaking mishaps and some snarky words at a picnic mar the sunny landscape.

For a bit of sly genre-bending fun, Northanger Abbey (starring the now-famous Felicity Jones) is just the ticket. Tickle your gothic funny bone and cheer on Catherine as she emerges from her novel-induced paranoia to find true love. Imagine being cooped up in a creepy (well, not so creepy, really) abbey with Henry Tilney. Life could be worse! Another house takes center stage in Mansfield Park, a sprightly adaptation that will make you fall in love with one of Jane’s less popular novels–and possibly with Jonny Lee Miller!

Jane herself was no stranger to domestic seclusion. Lucy Worsley invites us into Jane’s many and varied domiciles in her fascinating study Jane Austen at Home: A Biography. Expertly narrated by Ruth Redman, the book examines Austen’s legacy through the lens of her life indoors, from Steventon to Bath to Chawton. If you fancy a turn around the hedges–or are just feeling a bit claustrophobic–have a look at Austen Country: The Life and Times of Jane Austen and let images of the Hampshire countryside soothe your spirit.

It is a universally acknowledged truth that a stir-crazy Janeite in possession of hoopla access won’t be in want of suitable entertainment!