But as soon as I started in on the Austen, I couldn't stop. I read Sanditon, I read The Watsons (another incomplete snippet). I read Lady Susan - ja, I bet you didn't know about that one, and now I am embarked on Mansfield Park.
The familiar world of Austen is peculiarly comforting. Preserved in amber, all the characters trot out their lines faultlessly, get caught up in their small domestic dramas, attend the balls, worry about their finances, endeavour to fall in love and get married, gamble their money away, flirt with the wrong person, experience heartache, determine to do better, you know the shtick.
All the minutiae of life circa 1816 or thereabouts, playing out immutably, continuously, untrammelled by the passage of time, always the same.
I wonder if this retrogressive comfort reading has anything to do with the condition we are now all experiencing - this unfamiliar but persistent constraint on our freedom of movement. Unless you were previously employed as a submariner, a lighthouse keeper or a prison inmate, this state of immobilisation is something entirely new.