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with the conduct book: she too believed we could do with a little guidance now and then, especially in the complex matter of love.The idea of our having a few simple rules was not, therefore, one to which she objected.What, after all, can they really have to tell us, that we have not now been told at least a hundred times over? Gradually, however, women began to spend less and less time reading conduct books and more and more time reading novels, which also provided advice on what a woman should and should not do, but in a manner that was much more entertaining and — very importantly!— much more like, admitting — perhaps for the very first time — that women too have a fulsome interior life, with thoughts and feelings that are as crucial to get right as the actions that follow from them.

A chart shows which pairings work well, which could work under certain conditions, and which should be avoided: for instance, an Anne Elliot matches well with a Colonel Brandon, but not a Mr., but takes it upon herself rather to direct the course of proceedings than anything else.And this is done with charm and originality, the key to which is the irresistible playfulness of her manner.‘And so ended his affection,’ Elizabeth interrupts, impatient to call a halt to her mother’s mortifying efforts to impress Mr Bingley with Jane’s powers of attraction.With one short but pithy interjection, Elizabeth not only derails her mother’s chatter, but calls the company’s attention away from the subject altogether by airing an opinion entirely the opposite of a generally accepted one. ‘I have been used to consider poetry as the food of love,’ he responds.‘Of a fine, stout, healthy love it may. But if it be only a slight, thin sort of inclination, I am convinced that one good sonnet will starve it entirely away.’ we to learn from this short exchange? For one thing, we might immediately notice that Elizabeth is not confined to anybody’s passenger seat!

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