Though Mr. Darcy is apparently the ideal romantic hero for many modern women, it would seem that Austen wasn't one to hold out much hope in real-life soulmates:
"There are such beings in the World, perhaps, one in a Thousand, as the Creature You & I should think perfection, where Grace & Spirit are united to Worth, where the Manners are equal to the Heart & Understanding, but such a person may not come in your way, or if he does, he may not be the eldest son of a Man of Fortune, the Brother of your particular friend, & belonging to your own County."
Jane Austen in a letter to her niece, Fanny Knight
(November 18, 1814)
I think I've finished my Jane Austen kick, though there are still a few articles and quotes that I'll probably be posting when I get around to it. I've read Sense & Sensibility, Persuasion, and Emma over the last few weeks. Persuasion was definitely my favorite - Anne Elliot is an endearing, sympathetic heroine and the themes of sadness, regret, and lost youth make the final happy resolution of the story a very satisfying one.
This just leaves Mansfield Park (I've already been through Pride & Prejudice and Northanger Abbey) - which I think I'll save for another time. I bought a copy of MP from Aqua Books the other day but I haven't been able to move past the introductory essay. Mansfield Park is so far my favorite Austen film-adaptation, but supposedly Fanny Price is Austen's most hated heroine.
So instead I've moved on to Heart of Darkness and a Y.A. series by Tamora Pierce that I've been wanting to check out for a long time, ever since I read that it didn't shy away from plotlines related to gender and sex. That's pretty rare for a medieval fantasy series - especially a Young Adult one. (Can you imagine a young character having sex in a Susan Cooper or a Narnia book?)
I'm at a hilarious bit right now where the heroine Alanna has just been given a magical gold pendant that will keep her from getting pregnant indefinitely. (Well, its hilarious to me anyway - in the book I don't think its necessarily meant to be funny.)