where the writers are

It's remarkable how often Jane Austen is listed on RR among favourite books and writing influences, and not usually by authors of the historical genre.  As someone who spends a lot of time composing in that idiom, I'm keen to understand what wacky, quirky, slick-living, outward bound, Simpson-cultivated, Twain-savvy, 24-hooked, Sex and the City-primed, Americans find so captivating about her. (I don't intend any of this in a disparaging way: I wish we shared your optimistic outlook and verve.)

Is it:

  • Nostalgia for 'the old country' and, perhaps, a faint hankering for monarchy?
  • The atmosphere of another time and place?
  • A recognisable culture of materialism (then evolved in a society where few were enfranchised)?

  • Austen's stunning facility with the English language?

  • The hypnotic, almost predictable, rhythm of her sentences?

  • Her arch humour, best targeted at 'posers'?

  • Her caustic wit in the face of animosity?

  • The fine tension spun between characters in a social microcosm with punishing codes of conduct?

  • A deep-seated longing for those guidelines?

  • The excruciating vulnerability of her heroines whose only hope of escape was via the marriage bond?

  • The triumph of natural virtue?

  • The fates cast over the chink of teacups?

  Maybe you have other ideas?