Her novels may be mischaracterised as romantic escapism, but at their core, they have a lot to say about perseverance – and it makes them perfect reading for now, writes Heloise Wood.
The tumultuous nature of the last year has led each of us to find our own particular cultural coping mechanisms. One of the key ones for me has been reading the novels of Jane Austen. After writing her work off in my younger days as simpering and convoluted, featuring heroines with whom I could never empathise, I have now found myself drawn to her work in a way I never have been before.
Sales figures would suggest I'm far from the only one relying on her humour and heart to get me through these strange days. In the UK, as Kiera O'Brien, charts and data editor of the Bookseller, notes, Austen experienced a sales rise of 20% in the UK between 15 June and 7 November last year, compared to the same period in 2019. Last December saw the 245th anniversary of her birth and her popularity only seems to be getting stronger.