This Thursday will be Jane Austen’s birthday, the 235th anniversary of her birth. All week we are going to be honoring Jane and celebrating the fact that she lived and left for us wonderful works of fiction, novels that have been elevated the status of great literature.

In honor of Jane’s birthday, I’ll give away a blank greeting card, postcards and a Hatchard’s bookmark, all from one of my England trips. Just comment today and I’ll randomly make my pick and announce it tomorrow.

But when Jane was writing, she was not too different from us. She had stories in her head, like we do. She had to make that leap of courage to write them down, then to send them to publishers. She, too, suffered the pain of rejection and the exhilaration of actually selling a book. And, then, Jane had to fit writing in between other duties, just like we do. Sometimes, like when she lived in Bath, she had to put the needs of family members over her own.

Jane wrote romances. Oh, I know some folks would scoff at my saying that, as if I were insulting her, but her stories almost always have a central romance that finds its happy ending, just like our romances.

I like that Jane Austen wrote about marrying for love, a relatively new concept in her time. I also like that she understood that love transforms a person. Yes, Jane’s books were about so much more than a love story, but so are today’s best romances.

So…what have I learned from Jane Austen?

It is hard to say! When I read Austen or watch some of the movies made of her works, I just enjoy the stories. I get caught up in the characters, the setting, Austen’s fabulous wit, and I don’t analyze.

I know I love her characters and how deftly they they are drawn. Austen’s “brush strokes” on “little pieces of ivory” created characters who are so vivid and real that we can’t forget them, even 200 years later.

My three favorites among Austen’s books are the ones that are the most focused on the love story. In order they are:
1. Persuasion
2. Pride and Prejudice
3. Sense and Sensibility

Which of Jane Austen books are your favorites? Why? Do you get as “Lost in Austen” as I do? Make a comment for a chance to win my prizes!

Harlequin Holiday ContestThis week I’m blogging at Harlequin Historicals on Wednesday and Diane’s Blog on Thursday. And don’t forget to enter the Harlequin Historical Holiday contest. Enter every day for daily prizes and to increase your chances to win the grand prize–a Kindle! “Like” me on my new Facebook Fan Page and you’ll automatically be entered for the grand prize.