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Apr 24 2009

What Would Jane Think?

by Lesley B

janepictIt is a truth universally acknowledged, that readers in possession of 6 novels must be in want of more.

I do wonder how Miss Austen would regard the Jane Austen industry, that growing collection of  books and films and blogs about her life and her in-the-public-domain characters. If you’ve read all the original novels and still have a jones for Jane, you might enjoy some of these additions to the Austen brand:


  • Jane Austen as a fictional character

The Jane Austen mystery series by Stephanie Barron: Jane and the unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor is the first book in the series. Jane and her sister, Cassandra, solve murders in Regency England.

Becoming Jane:  a 2007 film with Anne Hathaway that offers a mostly fictional account of Jane’s love affair with a penniless Irish law student.

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James:  There’s very little left of Jane Austen’s personal writing. Her sister burned most of her letters. This novel supposes that she kept a private diary detailing a secret love affair.

  • Continuations and completions

The Mr. & Mrs. Darcy series by Carrie Bebris:   As a newly married couple, the Darcys  must solve the mystery around the misfortunes of Elizabeth’s brother-in-law Charles Bingley and his snooty sister Caroline. First book in the series is Pride and prescience, or, A truth universally acknowledged.

Mr. Knightley’s Diary by Amanda Grange: The novel Emma, retold from Mr. Knightley’s point of view.

In a sort of literary hat trick, Joan Aiken:

1) completes one of Austen’s unfinished works in Emma Watson: the Watsons completed

2) invents a new story for Pride and Prejudice’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh in Lady Catherine’s Necklace

3) writes a sequel in Jane Fairfax, Jane Austen’s Emma, through another’s eyes.

  • Contemporary retellings

Clueless: The 1995 movie with Alicia Silverstone takes Emma to high school in Beverly Hills

Jane Austen in Scarsdale, or Love, death, and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen:  Persuasion in a high school counselor’s office, where a woman must face the man she rejected years ago when his nephew enrolls at her school.

Austenland by Shannon Hale:   Not a retelling of an Austen novel, but the story of a woman with a Mr. Darcy obsession, sent to a kind of  literary resort to experience life as one of Jane’s characters.

Someone should build a real Jane Austen resort. There must be room in Florida next to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Jimmy L April 24, 2009 at 11:55 AM

Great post! I recently read my first Jane Austen book, Pride and Prejudice, and loved it. Have you heard of the new spin-off Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I’m serious: http://popwatch.ew.com/popwatch/2009/02/monster-mash-up.html

Lesley B April 24, 2009 at 12:59 PM

I’m new to Jane Austen, too. Read PAP in high school and didn’t think it was that exciting, but now I get it and love her books. Not sure how I feel about Zombies mixing with the Bennetts, but I read an excerpt somewhere and it did make me laugh. I think you would definitely want to read the original first, though.

Fran W May 9, 2009 at 11:58 AM

I’m planning on reading Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and the original simultaniously, chapter by chapter. It’s a great excuse to pick up P&P again, not that I really need one!

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