When a book opens with, "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife" you know it's going to be good.
Pride & Prejudice might have been first published 200 years ago, but that doesn't mean the story of Lizzie, Darcy, Jane and Mr Bingley isn't still relevant to a modern audience. Seriously, who hasn't been embarrassed by their parents, made a snap judgement about a bloke and danced awkwardly at a party?
So to celebrate everything Austen, here are five things we've learnt about love, life and dating from her novels...
1. Speaking your mind won't make him hate you
When Lizzie Bennet gives Mr Darcy the smack down and refuses his marriage proposal, you would be forgiven for thinking that was the end of that. But somehow, Mr Darcy realises he's been a total arse and Lizzie realises she's judged him too harshly and it all ends up happily ever after. The lesson? Sometimes a good old argument is exactly what you need to get those niggling doubts and annoyances off your chest.
2. An over-active imagination can make you see the worst in people
Don't make a fool of yourself like Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey and imagine there are boogie men (and tortured wives) locked in secret rooms. Chances are you'll be completely mistaken and that picture of him with his 'ex-girlfriend' is actually his sister. Jumping to conclusions will only make you look paranoid.
3. Getting too involved in other people's romance isn't a good thing
Emma Woodhouse tries so hard to matchmake her friends, plan their weddings and sort out their romances that she misses the romance that's right in front of her nose. Instead of getting to know the real Mr. Elton, Emma guesses as to his character and realises too late that he's a smug social climber. The trick is to forget about someone's wealth, status and job and focus on their personality - that's the thing you will have to live with.
4. Only you can be the judge of your own happiness
In Persuasion Anne Elliot doesn't have an easy ride with her conceited father and sister, but deep down she knows she can't settle down with someone just because he's well connected, rich or 'suitable'. She's 27 (and well on the way to spinsterhood according to Austen), which is why holding out hope for Mr. Right is such a risky move. Luckily Captain Wentworth comes along before we give up hope completely. The lesson? There's no perfect age, time or place that you can meet the perfect chap. Don't rush into picking someone second best just because your scared of never finding 'the one'.
5. Singing is the way to a man's heart
Okay, so this is questionable, but seriously if all it took was a few bars on the piano and a couple of high notes to snare a wonderful (and wealthy) man like Col. Christopher Brandon (played brilliantly by Alan Rickman in the 1995 movie adaptation of Sense & Sensibility) we'd all be doing it.
Brandon falls madly in love with Marianne Dashwood even though she's head-over-heels for the sly John Willoughby. Eventually, Marianne sees the error of her ways and marries the nice, kind and honest man. Note to self: Marrying someone who wants to be seen in public with you is crucial for future happiness.
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