Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Writers united by their love for Jane Austen wrote tributes that are gathered together in this collection of short stories. They include riffs on Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, and Sense and Sensibility. Readers will also find stories that imagine encounters with Steventon’s most famous daughter. The anthology’s writers play with fiction’s categories to imagine how Austen would have written in other genres and create new stories infused with Austen’s legendary attention to detail.
Emma: A Modern Retelling
Alexander McCall Smith
Emma Woodhouse is imagined as a 21st-century interior designer. When she moves home to launch her new business, she moves in with her father. Emma immerses herself in offering matchmaking advice to her friends, regardless of whether her friends ask for her help. At the center of a social circle that includes Harriet, Jane, George, and Frank, Emma dispenses advice ranging from texting etiquette to the best places to take a first date. Alexander McCall Smith preserves Austen’s comic sensibilities when it comes to one of her more difficult heroines.
Katherine J. Chen
Mary Bennett is not beautiful like her eldest sister Jane, and she can’t compete with the second sister Lizzie when it comes to quick wits. Mary B imagines that her life will remain solitary and will revolve around her books. But Mary’s quiet life is challenged by a series of events that draw on a strength of character that has been overshadowed by her siblings. Katherine J. Chen spins together a version of Pride and Prejudice in which her desire to be independent makes Mary an intriguing character in her own right.
Jane Bites Back
Michael Thomas Ford
Jane Austen may have officially died in 1817, but in the first novel in Ford’s series, a very modern Jane owns a bookstore in upstate New York. Not only are her works immortal, but since Jane became a vampire, so is she. Her current project has been trying to get her newest novel published. The manuscript has been rejected 116 times, but Jane isn’t discouraged. She’s also being pursued by two different suitors who want to take her away from it all. Ford’s light-hearted take featuring Jane as immortal continues in Jane Goes Batty and Jane Vows Vengeance.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters
The Dashwood sisters have been evicted from their home and sent to live on an island where monsters roam. Elinor meets the dashing Edward Ferrers and falls in love. Marianne is pursued by two men, Colonel Brandon and Willoughby, one of whom is actually a monster. Can the sisters negotiate the social etiquette rules of Regency England while simultaneously doing battle against sea monsters who keep trying to pull them underwater? A thrilling adaptation of a classic.
The social mavens of Delhi know Ania Khurana. Her matchmaking skills have found love for her aunt, and now she’s out to find a match for Dimple, her socially inept friend. But life in Delhi is shaken with the arrival of her aunt’s handsome nephew from America. As her social circles spin themselves into a tizzy, Ania faces a challenge to her worldview. Rao has written an Emma for the 21st century.
Pride & Prejudice & Puzzles
In clever tribute to Austen’s love of word play, Richard Galland presents Sudoku, code-breaking, and various visual and word games that are based on each of Austen’s novels. As he demonstrates, Austen offered maps and charts for decoding her society in her writing, a society for which she was one of its most keen observers, and now you can play along as well.
Jane of Austin
Hillary Manton Lodge
Jane and Celia run a tea shop on Valencia Avenue in San Francisco, but after their father’s business scandal, they lose their little shop. The sisters move to Austin, Texas to start again and Jane meets an up-and-coming musician. Her romance drives a wedge between the sisters, then Marine Captain Callum Beckett takes an immediate dislike to Jane’s musician beau. This Texas-based retelling of Sense and Sensibility will delight Austen fans.
The Jane Austen Book Club
Karen Joy Fowler
Jocelyn founds “Central Valley/River City all-Jane-Austen-all-the-time book club” in her small California town. Its six members meet for the first time in March to gather, read Austen’s novels, and schmooze. By August, its members have experienced romantic complications and made life-altering decisions. Is the work of Jane Austen behind these developments—or is it the group?
Jane and the Unpleasantness at Scargrave Manor
In the years since Stephanie Barron first imagined Jane Austen as a lady detective, she has followed up this first novel with ten more, so prepare yourself: once you read this first book, you’ll be hooked. When Jane journeys to see her close friend, the Countess of Scargrave, she witnesses the tragic death of her friend’s husband. Added to the shock of his death are the threatening letters that blame the countess for his murder. Jane is moved to act on her friend’s behalf, and soon finds herself embroiled in a mystery that will take her all the way to the House of Lords.
Jane Austen died in 1817 at the age of forty-one and wrote six beloved novels in her tragically short life. Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, and Emma were published during her lifetime. Shortly after she died, both Persuasion and Northanger Abbey were published.
Austen’s fans are everywhere, and a number of authors have paid homage to Austen by spinning off her novels into sequels or they have retold her stories in diverse settings and in multiple time periods. For the Austen fan, the release of a brand-new production of Emma, starring Peaky Blinders actress Anya Taylor-Joy is cause for celebration.
For Austen fans and for those who are about to become Austen fans, here are ten books that improvise and play with Jane Austen’s original novels. They’ll make for great companions while you’re waiting for the film to drop.
Featured image: Mia Goth and Anya Taylor-Joy in Emma. (2020)