For our fourth Young Ladies Literary Tea, we read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Really, could we have chosen a more perfect book for a literary tea? An advantage of doing these teas monthly is that we can settle into a rhythm. As usual, we went to the home of my friend Giovanna, some of the girls made the treats, I brought a special tea, and Giovanna served us while I led the discussion. It was a truly special!
I am a fairly independent lady… I never wish to impose on others, so I am always very careful to take most if not all of the responsibility onto myself. Giovanna has been a particularly sweet blessing to me because she is very gifted in hospitality and has helped me to share the work. Now, when I arrive at her house for a club, the table is set with a table cloth and china, the kettles are waiting for the tea, and I am free to greet and mingle with the girls as they arrive. Giovanna’s daughter Meg usually bakes something, as do her friends. To me, the whole experience feels like something very old-fashioned and lovely. If you are thinking of building a book club, let me encourage you to find a partner who will share the work with you. It really does make the experience easier and richer.
For this club I provided Creamy Earl Grey Tea from Cup and Kettle, some of the young ladies made heart shaped cookies, and another made scones. As we sipped our tea and snacked on the treats we talked about a great many things, but here are a few of the questions that I brought with me:
- Which marriage proposal was the worst? (Mr. Collins or Mr. Darcy)
- Whose romance is most likely to succeed?
- How different (and similar) are Lady Catherine and Mrs. Bennett? Other than circumstances, are they versions of the same character?
- Whose family is the worst, Lizzie’s or Darcy’s?
- Whose sisters are the worst, Jane’s (excepting Lizzie, of course) or Bingley’s?
- Was Lizzie right to be scandalized by Charlotte’s decision?
- Why is Mary as socially awkward as she is?
- Are Mary, Kitty, and Lydia the result of Mr. Bennett’s neglect or something else?
- Does Lydia show any growth?
- Speculate on what will happen if Charles and Jane have a strong-willed child?
- Is there any hope for Lydia and Wickham?
- Why does Austen seem to have such a low view of religion? Nearly all of her ministers are awful. How could this be a different book if religion were reflected as more attractive and helpful?
During this club we realized that we only have one more Tea on the calendar (the Betsy Tacy high school books). All of us were saddened by the prospect of having to stop this beautiful tradition. Despite having three clubs per month already on the schedule for the spring semester, all of us wanted to squeeze in more teas. So, after some prayer and schedule puzzling, we did.
Because our group has a wide age range of readers, I tried to offer at least one that would be appropriate for the youngest readers. I chose Understood Betsy. I also chose one that could be read aloud as a family, The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux. Everyone was in agreement that we need to have an Austen every semester, and they overwhelming requested Sense and Sensibility because it could be easily compared to Pride and Prejudice. For our fourth book the girls are voting on either The Witch of Blackbird Pond or Jane Eyre. Sadly, not enough of them wanted Ivanhoe, one of my favorites. But! I will just schedule it for fall with our mixed-gender teen group – it is too good to be missed.
We have an entire series on the Young Ladies Literary Teas. You can find them here.