Thursday, December 17, 2015

Beyond Austen: Fiction Inspired by the Classic Novels

To be one with Jane Austen! It is a contradiction in terms, yet every Jane Austenite has made the attempt.
~E. M. Forster, "Jane Austen: The Six Novels"

Jane Austen only completed 6 novels.  It's a sad truth to those who love her writing. They are, in order of composition: Northanger Abbey; Sense & Sensibility; Pride & Prejudice; Mansfield Park; Emma; & Persuasion, with Persuasion and Northanger Abbey published posthumously. (Recent years have seen publication of some her juvenilia, including her history of England; you can also find in the library catalog an early work, Lady Susan, in a volume with two unfinished novels, The Watsons and Sanditon.)

Jane Austen's novels were first accepted into the Western literary canon in the last century, and even then, though Pride and Prejudice was already being adapted into a movie with Laurence Olivier and Greer Garson in 1940, Austen's fiction's mainstream appeal was arguably not as all-consuming as it was to become after the 1995 mini-series (starring Colin Firth) was aired.

But, as author Deborah Yaffe points out in Among the Janeites:

The Austen spinoff isn't an entirely contemporary invention. Austen herself apparently imagined afterlives for her characters, telling her family  that the fourth Bennet sister, Kitty, would eventually marry a clergyman; that her older sister Mary would settle for a lawyer's clerk; and that Emma Woodhouse's invalid father would die two years after her marriage.  The first authors to attempt an Austen spinoff were two of Jane Austen's nieces: Anna Lefroy, who knew Austen well and consulted her for advice on writing, and Catherine Anne Hubback, who was born the year after Austen's death. As a child, Hubback heard Aunt Cassandra read Aunt Jane's books aloud, and she saw the manuscripts of Austen's unfinished novels, The Watsons and Sanditon

It's just that there are so many now! Now, a reader looking to immerse oneself in Austen's world can find mysteries where Jane Austen or the Darcys are sleuthing. You can read Amanda Grange's "Jane Austen Heroes" series, with each novel written from the perspective of a different hero - Darcy, Captain Wentworth, Mr. Knightley. There is a series called "Pride & Prejudice Variations" and one called "Brides of Pemberley"; "Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman" has his own series; the "Darcy Saga"; young adult novels based on Jane Austen; "Austen Addicts"; "Jane Austen's Diaries"; "Darcy and Friends"...the list goes on and on. We'll hazard a guess that Pride and Prejudice fanfiction seems by far the most popular.

Here's an overview of some of the Austen-inspired fiction from the library catalog, chosen from Goodreads' "Best Jane Austen Fan Fiction" list. And, if you don't feel like reading, why not try a DVD?


Pride and Prescience, or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged by Carrie Bebris

Jane and the Man of the Cloth: Being the Second Jane Austen Mystery by Stephanie Barron 

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James 


Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues by Linda Berdoll

The Exploits & Adventures of Miss Alethea Darcy by Elizabeth Aston 

Lydia Bennet's Story: The Continuing Adventures of Mrs. Darcy's Youngest Sister - A Sequel to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice by Jane Odiwe [eBook]

Georgiana Darcy's Diary: Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice Continued by Anna Elliott [eBook]

The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough 

The Bad Miss Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel by Jean Burnett 


An Assembly Such As This: A Novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman by Pamela Aidan

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding 

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange 

Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg [YA] 

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds [eBook] 

Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan 

Longbourn by Jo Baker 

Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway   

Jane Austen as a character

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James

Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford 

Just Jane: A Novel of Jane Austen's Life by Nancy Moser 


Austenland by Shannon Hale

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler 

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Pattillo

Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure by Emma Campbell Webster

Pride and Prejudice and Kitties: A Cat-Lover's Romp Through Jane Austen's Classic by Jane Austen, Pamela Jane, and Deborah Guyol

Links to Austen Fandom

Tarot of Jane Austen

Jane Austen at the Republic of Pemberley
The Republic of Pemberley is an online community dedicated to the appreciation of the work of the English author Jane Austen. 

Jane Austen's Regency World magazine

Best of Jane Austen FanFiction

The Meryton Assembly [Jane Austen fanfic]

Derbyshire Writers' Guild [Jane Austen fanfic]

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