“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of any thing than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.”
― Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
“Why are you writing about beignets Mom?”
“No .Vignettes.” (Although I love beignets.)
“Well I like the sounds of both words.”
Frankie has a love for words. It was no surprise that she rediscovered Jane Austen again this past spring. She convinced her sisters to read the books too.
Much to the chagrin of Chris and Q who wanted to watch adventure or sports movies on movie night, we spent three movie nights in a row watching Jane Austen movies at the height of their obsession.
British accents spouting the phrases “most excellent,” “do not trifle with me,” and “I think not” could be heard throughout our house. In fact, I still have a daughter that calls me “mother” although I think it’s because she is reading the Harry Potter series again for the fifth time.
We were all enchanted by hearing ourselves speak the phrases and gradually moved on to poetry.
We spent time memorizing poetry in Old English, Spanish, and even in French. Frankie was the one who demanded the longest poem to memorize – A Brave and Startling Truth by Maya Angelou.
As she recited with emotion and precise articulation, I recalled our nap and bedtime routines. One more story Mama! I would read aloud the same books or tell the same stories and she would quickly recite them back to me word for word.
In July, the world was too much for me. I lay down on the couch in complete despair-y rage. She came and sat next to me and said, “Did you know that children read poetry to their parents in Jane Austen’s time?” I shook my head. It was my turn to lie down on her shoulder and listen to her voice. She took out her poetry book and began to read her favourites including that Maya Angelou poem:
…. When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.
That ending always gives me hope. And you know what else gives me hope? My children’s recognition of the power of language – words that bring joy and words that inspire; how they use their voice to soothe and to reflect the beauty of humanity; and of course…Jane Austen and beignets.