The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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December 5, 2017

Old friend

[Miss Bates] enjoyed a most uncommon degree of popularity for a woman neither young, handsome, rich, nor married. ..She had never boasted either beauty or cleverness. Her youth had passed without distinction, and her middle of life was devoted to the care of a failing mother, and the endeavour to make a small income go as far as possible. And yet she was a happy woman, and a woman whom no one named without good-will. It was her own universal good-will and contented temper which worked such wonders. She loved every body, was interested in every body's happiness, quick-sighted to every body's merits; thought herself a most fortunate creature, and surrounded with blessings in such an excellent mother, and so many good neighbours and friends, and a home that wanted for nothing. The simplicity and cheerfulness of her nature, her contented and grateful spirit, were a recommendation to every body, and a mine of felicity to herself. She was a great talker upon little matters ...full of trivial communications and harmless gossip.
from Emma, by Jane Austen

Still and always my favorite character, or one of them ... because I am sometimes like her, or because I would sometimes like to be?


Lisa said...

The last time I read Emma, I appreciated Miss Bates more than ever before. And I think JA did as well, despite all of Emma' waspish comments.

Jane @ Beyond Eden Rock said...

What struck me on my recent re-read was that Miss Bates made such an impression with relatively few appearances. I appreciated her more this time than I had in the past.

JaneGS said...

I once read that Miss Bates is one of those characters who is much better on the page than in person. I adore her myself, but I fear might behave as Emma did if she was someone actually in my life. That makes me sound mean, which I'm not, but Austen was a master of characterization and dialogue and Miss Bates is one of her masterpieces.

Tanya van Hasselt said...

A hugely enjoyable post and comments, thanks so much! I love the way Jane Austen uses Miss Bates' meandering speeches to drop clues about what is really happening. In this way she has parallels to the sharp-eyed spinsters in other books, even more ironic because she is so innocent herself. Spinsters are often the most memorable characters in fiction, aren't they? You might like the post 'Spinsters of the splendid kind' over on

Vintage Reading said...

Love Miss Bates, too. A woman who always puts others first. I re-read Emma last Christmas and the snowy carriage drive is quite appropriate for the season. Merry Christmas!

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