People who have never read any Jane Austen could easily write her work off as sugary romance literature enjoyed only by overly-sentimental women. Those people are missing out.
I love a good epic/adventure/fantasy as much as the next person but Jane Austen makes the every day events that make up the average life fascinating and worthy of their own movie adaptations. The fact that a fateful exchange with another person could be the climax of a story, rather than say a battle with a giant whale, is actually quite amazing. The stress and thrill of simple conversation, the monotony of boring and stupid relations… it’s all written out in such a beautiful, clever way. Her wit and power of expression adds meaning and beauty to the details of our lives that otherwise feel unremarkable. This is true especially for women, who so rarely have their experiences or perspective acknowledged as worthy of notice, who are so often invisible non-players in ‘great’ literature or pathetic victims with no agency over their own lives. Jane Austen offers us a wonderful reprieve, and I know I am one of many grateful readers.