Bath: For All You Jane Austen Fans

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Gentle Reader,

5 a.m. comes way too early.

Morning people make absolutely no sense to me, but, then again, neither do night owls. Why can’t we all exist happily in the inbetween times?

Today I took my very first overland train ride. It’s been a whole week of firsts for me: first international flight, first subway ride, first taxi ride. I must say, I enjoyed the train the most. It was fun to watch the city give way to green countryside – for the little bit that I could keep my eyes open. Perhaps I need to invest in a train when I get home. Put me right to sleep!

Bath was exquisite. I was able to step into Georgian/Regency England, superbly frozen in time. THIS was what I came to see. It was easy to imagine myself as the quite elegant friend of a certain Miss Austen, equipped with clever wit and genteel style. I could also picture Chris dressed in Mr. Darcy fashion: wide cravat, tall boots, sharp walking stick. While we did not “take the {putrid} waters,” we did see the Roman Baths, and that was amazing. To be walking in buildings erected near the time of Christ was…indescribable. You can almost hear the echo of days gone by, and you can certainly still feel the heat rising from the spring.

By far, though, my favorite stop was the Royal Crescent. Going into #1 made me feel so excited! I now want to completely redecorate my home in Regency style. Vivid blues, deep greens, crystal. It was funny to see the dining table laid out with an array of fruits. We think nothing of biting into an apple or peeling an orange, but even that was an art-form to them. There was such a sense of style and elegance that we are sorely lacking today. They took the time to enjoy life. They walked, took tea, wrote letters, danced. Yes, many people indulged in scandalous entertainment and affairs, but that’s true of any century.

This period was the great last stand before the Victorian age really picked up on the Industrial Revolution. Since then, we’ve been running hurry-scurry, and it gets worse with each passing year. Chris and I were greatly affected with the desire to slow down and take a breath.

We stopped by the Jane Austen Center, contained within the building where she lived for awhile with her mother and sister, directly following the death of her father. Though Bath figures prominently in two of her novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion, the time she spent here was unproductive and is considered a dark time in her life. It was a short slide from the genteel poverty of Gay Street to the overcrowded tenements of Trim Street. It was after this period that she focused professionally on writing, achieving success in the few short years before she died of Addison’s Disease in 1817.

I write so much of Jane Austen because she is truly a hero of mine. An astute observer of human nature, I appreciate her keen insight and her sly wit. Shakespeare may be considered the national hero of letters, but Austen surely vies for the honor.

That is it for England! Tomorrow we board the train for Edinburgh, and in three short days we’ll be winging our way home. I’m saddened to see the trip end, though I confess my own, quiet home sounds lovely.

My journey to faith. (15)

For all posts in this series, go here.

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