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Favourite Austenesque Retellings – Top Ten

an austenesque retelling

Although nothing can beat reading Jane’s own novels, sometimes it’s nice to read an ‘Austenesque’ story. These can be based on Jane’s novels, a prequel or sequel to them, in the same kind of style… We can’t say for sure what makes a story an Austenesque story, but what we can be sure of is that there are a lot to choose from! In this blog post, Meredith from Austenesque Reviews runs through her recent top ten Austenesque retellings.

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While many Austenesque stories take place in the Regency era and many take place in modern times, there are a handful that are set somewhere in between. These stories take Jane Austen’s beloved characters and bring them to new time periods and/or settings. Sometimes these stories are referred to as ‘alternate universe,’ but I like to use the term – Retellings. Often times in these stories the setting feels like a character in and of itself. And I love seeing how authors immerse Jane Austen’s characters and the reader in these unique and diverse settings.

The amount of Austenesque Retellings (that are not modern-day retellings) published may be small, but many of them are such sensational reads I thought it would be fun to highlight my favorites!

Here are 10 fabulous Austenesque retellings that are so deserving of praise and recognition!

* These lists are based only on the novels I have read and reviewed and are my top ten favourites.

**These lists are subject to change.

 

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(in alphabetical order)

1932
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Ms. Cox’s writing style is captivating and charming. I love the time period she chose, the new predicaments she gave the Bennet family, and the intrigue she created about Georgiana.”

 

At the Edge of the Sea
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“I was utterly charmed and enthralled by this novel! Having read the other two superb Austenesque novels by Karen Cox, I knew I could expect a high-caliber story rich with dynamic characters, intelligent insights, and evocative prose. At the Edge of the Sea is a poignant and expressive love story that should not be missed!”

 

Darcy on the Hudson
Author: Mary Simonsen

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“If you are looking for an Austenesque novel with just the right amount of historical content, Mary Simonsen is an author you simply must check out. Mary Simonsen has proven numerous times over that she is quite proficient when it comes to entwining history and Jane Austen! I can’t wait to see where and when she will take us next!”

 

Darcy’s Hope: Beauty From Ashes (Great War Romance #1)
Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey (Great War Romance #2)
Author: Ginger Monette

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars (for both!)

 

“I love so much of what the author began in this series – the beautifully constructed integration, the setting, the emotional journeys, the well-drawn characters. Well, Darcy’s Hope at Donwell Abbey is just as well-written, action-packed, and emotionally turbulent as the first book. And once again, I found Ginger Monette’s premise and execution to be masterful”

 

I Could Write a Book
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Perceptive and compelling, I Could Write a Book is a wonderful and worthy retelling of Jane Austen’s timeless tale. With eloquent style, grace, and insight Karen Cox has proven, once again, she can indeed ‘write a book!’”

 

Longbourn’s Songbird
Author: Beau North

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“Longbourn’s Songbird is a soulful and poignant Pride and Prejudice retelling that encompasses a much bigger story than Darcy and Elizabeth fighting and finding love. Emotive, deep, and sincere – this debut novel is well-deserving of all the praise and accolades it is receiving! I highly recommend!”

 

Mr. Darcy’s Mail-Order Bride
Author: J. Dawn King

Type of Novel: Retelling

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Filled with rugged terrain, rough hardships, and rocky relationships – this unique and enthralling retelling of Pride and Prejudice is one that I thoroughly enjoyed! A perfect choice for readers who enjoy gripping western romance, and definitely my new favorite from J. Dawn King!”

 

Pemberley Ranch
Author: Jack Caldwell

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

“I was enthralled by this remarkable and adventurous variation of Pride and Prejudice! I found it to be a spectacular integration of romance, war, history, adventure, and conflict. Not to mention a brilliant blend of Civil War prejudices and Jane Austen’s moral guidance. Mr. Caldwell is a skilled story-teller and his debut novel, Pemberley Ranch, is sure to entrance and excite lovers of history and the Old West.”

 

Undeceived
Author: Karen M. Cox

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“With her latest release, Karen Cox delivers an incredibly unique and riveting tale that brilliantly blends together action, high-stakes danger, espionage, history, and Jane Austen! I love the adventure and the time travel through history this story took me on! I cannot wait to see what Karen Cox writes next!”

 

Undercover
Author: Cat Gardiner

Type of Novel: Retelling, Mature Audiences

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

“Communist schemes, sizzling chemistry, and solving crimes – Cat Gardiner’s Austen-Inspired noir mystery is an enthralling adventure that envelopes readers in the sights, sounds, and realities of another time and world. I loved the combination of intrigue, history, danger, and scorching-hot romance! Thank you, Ms. Gardiner for another supremely creative and engrossing tale!”

What are some of your favorite Austenesque Retellings?

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Meredith is the blogger behind this wonderful post from Austenesque Reviews, shared with us with her kind permission. Austenesque Reviews was founded in 2009 as a blog devoted to the reading and reviewing the hordes of Austenesque13 novels that are recently published, as well as the ones that were published years ago.

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How I Fell in Love With Georgette Heyer

georgette heyerI stumbled upon Georgette Heyer during a golden time of my life after college graduation when I had three precious free months before I began school again. Bursting with youthful energy, I didn’t know what to do with my time. And so I hit the books, but this time for pleasure. In those days, I could gobble up a book a day if I was so inclined, and I sped through Jane Eyre. Wuthering Heights. Tess of the d’Urbervilles. Rebecca. Father and Sons, by Ivan Turgenev, one of my favorite authors, and Pride and Prejudice (for the second time in my life). That last novel with its sparkling wit and clear view of village life seemed like a breath of fresh air after the heightened emotions of the Victorian authors.

To me, Mr. Bennet was the image of my father, whose wry statements always made me pause before I could figure out if he was making sport of me, himself, or some other unwitting target. Mrs. Bennet reminded me of my crazy Dutch grandmothers – both of whom were slightly hysterical and VERY demanding. I read Pride and Prejudice twice that summer (and began a tradition of reading it every summer for the next twenty years). Greedily I reached for more Jane Austen novels until there were none left. I railed against the illness that carried Jane off before she could produce enough novels to assuage my addiction. Where to turn?

The library, of course.

I looked up Regency novels and found … Clare Darcy. Ok, I thought. I’ll give her a try and picked up a copy of Victoire, a most logical choice given my given name, and read the book in one long sitting. How to state it nicely: Clare Darcy is to Jane Austen what a sputtering candle is to the sun at high noon.

My quest was not over.

My apartment roommie, also a Janeite, discovered the Flashman novels by George MacDonald Fraser. She LOVED them. But budding little feminist me wanted books written by humorous females, not a man with no interest in the goings on of small town families and their courtship rituals, and silly clergy, and strong heroines who were able to learn a thing or two. And so I continued my search.

One day I found a Barbara Cartland novel. Hahahahahahahaha! Tossing aside her cheesy book about a 16-year-old-heroine with a heart-shaped face, I wondered if I could charge her for wasting my precious life.

I continued my search.

And there it was. On the bottom shelf at the library. Arabella. It was a pathetic excuse of a book – dog-eared, blemished, and torn partially in the spine. I read the front cover – Arabella by Georgette Heyer – then sat on the floor and began to read. Witty words leapt from the pages. I laughed with delight. Before long I checked out the book and proceeded to read it in one long sitting. My roommie, who had started her new job two weeks after college, came home from work to find me engrossed. “I found a new author,” I said, telling her she could read the book when I was done. I gave it to her that night.

We were both instantly hooked on Georgette Heyer.

I returned to the library and checked out all the Georgette Heyers I could find. My roommie and I fell in love with Arabella, but we became die-hard fans when we encountered Venetia, The Grand Sophie, Sylvester, and Frederica. By summer’s end we had read ALL the GHs we could lay our hands on, even the mysteries and histories. (Thankfully, Georgette was prolific.)

My roommie and I were two young and hopeless romantics. We loved the glittering, detailed descriptions of the characters, the clothes they wore from expensive shops, and the houses, towns, and cities they inhabited. We learned about Regency London and the manners and mores of the Ton. Georgette Heyer characters spoke in cant, and thus we affected British accents and used cant-speech at every opportunity. Our boyfriends, while a bit mystified, played along, even debating which weapon was more effective in a fight – the epee or the sword.

But then life intruded and my intense love affair with Georgette Heyer had to take a back seat. I returned to school and began to read academic books again. I left my obsession behind, except for my yearly date with Pride and Prejudice.

Flash forward a number of decades when Sourcebooks began to republish Georgette Heyer novels. Once more I began to read them regularly, only this time I reviewed them as well.  I discovered that my tastes had changed and that I was more attracted to other novels like The Reluctant Widow and The Convenient Marriage. I never reread Arabella, for I did not want to revisit my first love only to discover that she had flaws.

I savor my memory of first discovering Georgette Heyer and thank Sourcebooks for the opportunity to relive that Golden Summer. I keep about 10 GH books on my Nook and Kindle (yes, I have both) so I am not ever very far from one of my favorite authors. If you are intrigued, all of GH s novels are available at Sourcebook’s Discover a New Love Website at www.discoveranewlove.com.

georgette heyer


Vic Sanborn oversees two blogs: Jane Austen’s World and Jane Austen Today. Before 2006 she merely adored Jane Austen and read Pride and Prejudice faithfully every year. These days, she is immersed in reading and writing about the author’s life and the Regency era. Co-founder of her local (and very small) book group, Janeites on the James, she began her blogs as a way to share her research on the Regency era for her novel, which sits unpublished on a dusty shelf. In her working life, Vic provides resources and professional development for teachers and administrators of Virginia’s adult education and literacy programs. This article was written for Jane Austen’s World and is used here with permission.

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