Shortly before Valentine’s Day during my senior year of college, my boyfriend-at-the-time asked me to name my favorite author.
“Jane Austen,” I replied. Wasn’t that obvious?
Evidently not, because on Valentine’s Day he presented with the complete works on Jane Austen, all bound together in a single hardcover volume.
When I didn’t immediately burst into tears and commit the volume to a prominent position in my messenger bag, he acted surprised. And disappointed.
“Don’t you like it?” he asked.
“Yes,” I replied, “but I already have all of her books.” (Favorite author, remember?)
He looked hurt.
“That’s not to say that I don’t like having them all together,” I added. “In fact, it’s great to have an extra copy! Now I’ll be able to keep this one as reference!”
I could tell that he’d tried, so I did my best to assure him that I appreciated the thought he’d put into my gift, but several months later, he brought it up again.
“How come you never read the book I got you?”
“Because I’ve already read all of her books!” I exclaimed. I certainly wasn’t opposed to reading Austen again, but it was my senior year of college. I was knee-deep in Fueillet notation for my independent study in baroque dance. I didn’t have time for Austen.
“Why don’t you at least bring it with you once in a while?” he asked. “Like on weekends, when you’re not in class.”
“Sweetheart, it’s heavy! This is the sort of book you keep at your desk, not the kind you bring to the beach with you!”
I mean seriously, who brings the complete works of anyone with them on weekends for “recreational” reading?
It remained a bone of contention between us until we broke up a year later.
Fast forward to New Years Eve this past December. The Wedding Date has just unloaded his overnight bag in the guest bedroom (which just so happens to be the bedroom next to mine) and beckons me to join him.
“Come here,” he whispers. “I have something for you.”
“Ooh! Me too!” I exclaim. “Give me just a sec!” I rummage through my closet and pull out the Christmas present I’ve been waiting to give to The Wedding Date (Star Wars coasters and a black sweater, the latter of which is, I admit, more for my enjoyment than for his).
“It’s super cheesy,” he warns me, pressing a small box into my hands, “but I hope you’ll like it.”
The box is not jewelry-small, but nor is it large enough to contain the complete works of Jane Austen. I breathe a sigh of relief.
“Did you wrap this yourself?” I ask.
“Well done.” And it is; he’s used proper holiday-themed paper and everything.
Inside the box is a sheet of tissue paper and beneath the tissue paper is a large, square medallion. I’m a bit confused at first—what is this?—but then the image beneath the glass comes into focus and I recognize two figures: two unmistakably Austen figures.
“It’s Pride and Prejudice,” The Wedding Date informs me, “at least that’s what the lady who made it told me.”
“It’s adorable!” I whisper.
“Turn it over,” he says, and there on the back, beneath another appropriately Regency couple, is an inscription.
Not a quote from the great JA, but rather a caption, which The Wedding Date himself has composed.
I’m not going to tell you what it said (a girl’s got to keep a few secrets) but take my word for it: it was the sweetest Austen-related gift I’ve ever received.
(And that’s including the Jane Austen action figure my dad got me for Christmas the year before.)
I wasted no time in emailing my BFF (“He got me a Jane Austen necklace!!!”) and by the time my dad got wind of it, he just shook his head and said, “He’s blowing the curve.”
Frankly, I don’t care (after all, my dad gave my mom a pair of tennis shoes back when they were dating and she still hasn’t let him live it down) and I’ve been scouring the internet ever since to try to figure out where he managed to find a Jane Austen necklace.
I still haven’t found the exact one that he got me for Christmas but tomorrow I’ll post the results of my search (so get those credit cards ready, men: if your significant other likes Colin Firth, Hugh Grant or Matthew Macfadyen, aka the new Mr. Darcy, almost as much as she likes you, tomorrow’s post will give you the chance to blow the curve too.)
- The Jane Austen quiz (threebookishgirls.wordpress.com)
- The Sense and Sensibility Display in the Dining Room (janeaustenshousemuseumblog.com)