I came to Jane Austen rather late in life because I’ve tried her novels once or twice in the past, but never got beyond the first few pages. Recently though, I downloaded her complete works onto my Kindle and for some reason took to her like a duck to water as you might say.
I find Austen old-fashioned of course and her novels are very narrow as you would expect, considering the restricted confines of her own life. Her main novels are all romances too, no real variety as to plot and the outcome is always the same – the heroine marries her ideal man. She always makes an advantageous match too.
Even so, I now find Austen’s work extraordinarily readable. She has a very good grasp of character, allows it to emerge naturally as the story unfolds, knows how characters should interact. In particular, I find she does social embarrassment well. Almost two hundred years later I'm almost in the room as Austen quietly unfolds yet another, desperately embarrassing situation.
She has a sharp sense of humour too and a gentle satiric touch that works even today where we are used to a much heavier, much cruder touch. In fact one can detect a cynical, rather detached strand to her apparently quiet, equable character. All in all I’m glad I gave her another try, even at this late stage in my reading life.
Note: the Jane Austen link above is worth a browse. It gives a few interesting social and linguistic insights.