Deborah Yaffe

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Janet knows Jane

By Deborah Yaffe, Apr 30 2018 01:00PM

It’s not every day that the first question a newspaper asks of a newly appointed government official is “Are your parents big Jane Austen fans?”


But that’s what a Vancouver Sun reporter asked the non-profit CEO who became lieutenant governor of the Canadian province of British Columbia last week. Since the new appointee’s name is Janet Austin, she’s probably heard this question before.


In any case, the answer is yes: Indeed, the family are such fans that when Janet’s sister Joan* got married, they presented her new husband with a membership in the Jane Austen Society. At Janet’s farewell lunch, a friend “gave a talk called ‘Jane Austen talks about Janet Austin’ just using Jane Austen quotes,” Austin said. “We sometimes talk to each other in Jane Austen quotes.”


No doubt a deep familiarity with Austen’s novels will come in handy in the work of government, where Austin is sure to encounter any number of Lady Catherines, Mr. Collinses, General Tilneys and Mrs. Norrises. Here’s hoping she also meets a few Elinor Dashwoods as well.



* Joan Austin and Janet Austin? The parents couldn't just break down and name one of them Jane?



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