Cheryl Burger has read all the books written by English author Jane Austen, whose books were published in the early nineteenth century. Describing “Pride and Prejudice,” Burger remembers Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s awkward first meeting and how the two fell in love after many misunderstandings. Burger was an attendee of Northside Library’s May 21 Jane Austen Tea Party and movie screening of “Pride and Prejudice.” Librarian Angela Ocana opened the party by joking about “the perfect English weather” on the rainy afternoon.
“Jane Austen is very popular and a lot of people have read her books,” says Nicole Jarvis, library assistant, explaining the choice to concentrate on this particular author.
The soothing piano and orchestral notes of the “Pride and Prejudice” soundtrack played in the library’s community room. Refreshments included buttery jelly thumbprint cookies and crispy chocolate and vanilla wafer rolls. Guests sipped from several varieties of black tea: Golden Monkey, Earl Grey and Maharaja Chai Oolong and a couple of herbal teas: chamomile citrus and rooibos.
Ocana encouraged guests to jot down Austen-inspired poems and share about their connection to this author.
“I’ve read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ ‘Mansfield Park’ and ‘Northanger Abbey,'” says Tina Otayco, a high school English teacher. “It’s interesting to read about Victorian culture in England during the 1800s when women didn’t have a lot of power. Their power then had to be gained through marriage. Austen was a feminist voice for that time period by showing the injustice of that system and how women were able to navigate through that.”
“For that generation, Jane Austen was a rebel by defying society’s roles for females by pushing back on things she didn’t agree with, such as the whole idea of women being considered second-class citizens,” Annette Heldman says.
“I’m a big fan of community at the library,” says Fred Burger. “Knowing my wife’s Jane Austen interest, when the library announced the event, I thought we should go. Having been married for 30 years to Cheryl, who is a big Jane Austen fan, I’ve seen almost all the movies and TV series based on Jane Austen’s books.”
Guests played a game called Marrying Mr. Darcy, a card game that pokes fun at the conventions from the time period Austen lived in.
“The goal is to snag a suitor and not be an old maid,” Ocana says and reads from a card. “There are different kinds of old maids. You can live a short lonely life or your kind wealthy family takes care of you.”
Moving along in the game, players drew “event” cards where they got to visit a boring cousin, be the belle of the ball, inherit money or cause a scandal by being caught kissing a member of the militia. “Character” cards came with reputation, beauty, wit and cunning qualities some bachelors in Austen books desired in a wife.