It is a truth universally acknowledged that a reader in possession of Austen novels must be in want of a podcast.
Classic romance tropes such as enemies to lovers, betrayal, forbidden love, and friends to lovers are all found within the pages of Jane Austen novels. But if you’re nervous to crack open this 19th-century novelist’s books, then Wit Beyond Measure is here to help.
Diving into classics can be a bit intimidating but the Wit Beyond Measure podcast makes it a bit easier. Like a book club, best friends Elle and Catrina read and discuss Jane Austen novels every week. They discuss everything from plot twists and swooning romantic moments, to Austen’s classic wit and the expectations of the time.
We got the inside scoop from the hosts of Wit Beyond Measure to learn more about their Austen podcast.
li: How would you describe your podcast to new listeners?
Catrina: This podcast is all about Jane Austen novels and is kind of a book club meets AP English Lit Class where we take a novel, read and discuss it in sections.
Elle: We are two friends who swoon over romantic heroes, laugh at ridiculous characters, and discuss what makes each novel work. It’s like a book club in podcast form.
li: How did Wit Beyond Measure start?
Catrina: I was going through my regular re-watch of my favorite Austen films and I kept messaging Elle about it. After a chat about how terrible Willoughby is for Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, we decided that we should start a podcast.
Elle: We really just wanted an excuse to read these books, watch these films, and chat about them. So, we gave ourselves a reason to. Now we are a year into podcasting and starting our third season.
li: Have you read Austen’s work before?
Catrina: I had read five of her six novels. Elle had read Pride and Prejudice before we started recording, which is one of the reasons why we chose it for Season 1. Neither of us had read Emma before Season 2.
Elle: Actually, now that we are hitting Season 3 of the podcast, we are entering a bit of new territory. All of the books going forward, Catrina has read and I haven’t. This means I really have no idea what is going on and she can make fun of my theories.
li: What do you like about Austen’s work?
Elle: Jane Austen was a Regency-era woman writing about the everyday lives of Regency-era women. When we look at her work we see the struggles of the times, we see what was at stake for women. Her characters are also very real in that they act like women I know. Like, I know a Lizzy, an Emma, a Lydia. But what makes Austen special, to me at least, is that in the end we see how these heroines get what they need to survive, they get what will make them happy.
Catrina: Her work is just timeless. The stories are still very relatable even though they are of a time that is very different from now. What the characters, specifically the young female characters, care about and what they are going through is still something women can connect to today. We all know what it is like to find ourselves, our future, and our own happiness in a world that doesn’t make it easy.
li: Do you consider Austen’s novels just classic literature or are they romances?
Elle: I think they are both depending on which novel you’re talking about. While I’m pretty sure all of her novels have a “happily ever after” and end in the heroine getting married and falling in love, I don’t know that I would call all of them romances. Pride and Prejudice, yes, clearly a romance. We get to watch Elizabeth Bennet fall in love with Mr. Darcy throughout the novel. Emma, on the other hand, feels less like a romance.
Catrina: Jane Austen is great at painting a picture of what her world was like at the time. So she is a great example of classic literature. Emma for example feels more like a story about the drama in a small town than a love story. However, Austen does play with a lot of themes that have become classic romance tropes. So, she also falls into that category too.
li: Do you discuss books other than Austen novels?
Elle: Actually, we do! After we finish reading an Austen novel, we like to talk about different adaptations. So, first, we watch any film or miniseries adaptations, including Catrina’s favorite BBC versions, of course. Then we read various book adaptations.
Catrina: We try to look for different kinds of adaptations. For example, sometimes they can be a version of the Austen novel through a different character’s point of view or an unofficial sequel. A lot of the books we read are modern adaptations. Some follow the original plot, while others are more like Austen “flavored.”
li: What are some of your favorite adaptations you’ve read?
Catrina: My favorite adaptations so far are Pride by Ibi Zoboi, The Other Bennet Sister by Janice Hadlow, and Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. All of those just happen to be Pride and Prejudice adaptations, but I really enjoyed a lot of the others!
Elle: I absolutely loved Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev. It is a modern Pride and Prejudice adaptation following a wealthy Indian-American family in California. I also enjoyed Polite Society, which felt like the perfect combination of Emma and Crazy Rich Asians. But I think my favorite adaptation so far has been What Kitty Did Next, by Carrie Kablean. It really felt like a sequel novel that Jane Austen would approve of.
li: Where can we find your podcast?
Elle: You can find us pretty much anywhere you listen to podcasts. We are on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and you can even listen to us through Audible. Of course, if you do listen through Apple, we would appreciate a review because it helps others find us.
Catrina: We have our own website – witbeyondmeasure.com – where you can listen. You can also find us through the Frolic Podcast Network, which is definitely something to check out if you are a fan of romance novels.
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