Let’s introduce Alice as a character. Not Alice as in Fay’s niece, but Alice as Alice.
· She’s eighteen – our age.
· She dyed her hair because dying your hair is fun and she felt like it get over it you’re such a drag bet your mum dresses you.
· She believes in equal rights for women, but she wasn’t old enough to wear bras to burn during the previous decade.*
· She wants to write a book.
· She’s got a boyfriend, and he’s pretty cool and stuff. They hate Maggie Thatcher together.
· She’s doing a course in English Literature.
· Her parents are very conservative, and they probably think a degree in English Lit will be a good backbone for the workforce or something like that.
· She has to read a heap of Austen for her course, and conveniently she doesn’t want to because it’s dull and out-dated in her eyes.^
· She writes to her mad, literary auntie for advice on literature, and in return receives an unasked, syllabus-worthy book of deeply intellectual word vomit that all goes straight over her head.
· She fails her English Literature course.
· She becomes a bestselling author, but her auntie tells her that the book isn’t Literature.
· Aunt Fay stops sending her letters, hopefully because Alice told her where she could get off.
* This is somehow a bad thing to Aunt ‘you’re only a feminist if you’ve covered yourself in mud and cried Virginia Woolf’s weight in tears’ Fay.
^ Most of us were more than happy – excited even – the read Austen. If Alice had been the same, her auntie wouldn’t have sneezed out that book.
READ OH MY GOD ALICE YOU MUST READ OR YOU’ RE EMOTIONALLY DUMB LOLOLOLOLOL
FEMINISM IS PRETTY RADICAL I GET ALL THE SUPPORT I NEED FROM FEMINISM I HAVE NO NEED OF YOU, BRA!
OH MY GOSH ALICE YOU’RE SO CONSERVATIVE HERE EAT MY WORDS MMMMM TASTES OF HYPOCRISY AND 1980s FEMINIST BACKLASH
YOU’RE RUBBISH ALICE AND SO’S YOUR WRITING
PROBS BECAUSE YOUR DAD’S A WIENER
I AM THE MODERN DAY AUSTEN
It’s very self-righteous; Fay’s relentless outpourings of “moral development is necessary” reinforce her absence of faith in Alice, which shows a lack of empathy. So perhaps she hasn’t read as much Capital L Literature as she’s made out to have. She may even have read some Capital M Magazines, and possibly a Capital N Newspaper to learn more about the Capital W World in her Capital Nine 1980s context.
Here is what I believe Alice’s initial letter to Aunt Fay would have been:
Dear Aunt Fay,
It has been quite a while since we last spoke – how’s everything going? Is Australia nice? I hear the weather down there is perfect every day, which I guess makes up for the fact that every creature wants to kill you.
I was actually hoping you could give me some advice – I have invested in an English Literature course for university, and have subsequently doomed myself to a year of reading Jane Austen. I’m five chapters into P&P, and find myself wanting to injure the greater percentage of the vapid characters that mope about the place; to add to that, I honestly do not understand why we should have to read something so out-dated and dull.
Please tell me how to make this course survivable, because otherwise I may end up crying in the foetal position on my dorm floor during finals week.
In response, Alice got a book of condescension telling her to grow up and that her bestselling book was a pile of Stephenie Meyer. And then Aunt Fay published the book to make herself seem smarter. ALL SHE WANTED WAS SOME ADVICE ON HOW TO READ AUSTEN, GOSH AUNT FAY YOU’RE SO TACTLESS.