Happy Birthday, Jane! (with JASNA NorCal)

How does one celebrate the birthday of an author who has been dead for 198 years? Luckily, Janeites are experts at throwing a grand party.


On December 5th I was lucky enough to attend the JASNA NorCal Region’s birthday gala. There are few things that could keep me away from a Jane Austen event. I’ve notoriously put off grad school work to spend the day taking public transit across town for a book club and woken up at dawn to drive to Chapman for a JASNA meeting, so waking up at 8 a.m. on a Saturday isn’t outside the realm of possibility for me.

I arrived right on time to grab my name tag, a cup of water for tea and start the ice-breaker that everyone else was cheerfully chipping away at. My favorite part of any of the Jane Austen events I’ve attended is the fact that I can always feel at home with my fellow Janeites. I saw some familiar faces and some new ones, but my eyes were mostly drawn to the table covered in raffle prizes. I silently hoped I had cash on me for once.


Lisa Pliscou, author of “Young Jane Austen,” sat with Holly Brady and gave us a great overview of her book and Austen’s early life. I appreciated hearing how and why the book was structured the way it was and understanding all of the research Pliscou did for it. When we transitioned to questions from the crowd I was really impressed with her knowledge of Austen biographers and history. Needless to say, I tried to take down as many books for my “to read” list as a could.


Tea came next, with a wide array of sandwiches, scones and fruit. (I love Austen events because I know I’ll be fed.) Pliscou gave the champagne toast to Jane (which you can view on the JASNA NorCal Facebook page) and we worked on a quiz while eagerly awaiting a trip to Pemberley at Christmas.


“Miss Bennet,” by Lauren Gunderson and Margot Melcon, is a lovely play that takes place in the Darcy household, where (most of) the Bennet sisters reunite for the holiday. I shamelessly giggled at the witty lines from the Darcys and perfectly awkward acting from Mary Bennet and Arthur de Bourgh, a new and wonderful character. The play is currently in-progress, but I sincerely hope it’s on the stage next year because that cast was delightful.


We concluded with raffle prizes and announcements. I’m so excited to be a regional co-coordinator now! If you’re in the Bay Area I’m going to insist you join us for the coming year’s events.

IMG_1228 – by Admin B

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