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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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Jane Austen News – Issue 46

What’s the Jane Austen News this week?  

Jane Austen’s Mother Not a Fan of All Her Work…     

images-6Mansfield Park is probably Jane’s least popular novel, and it appears that readers of today are not the only ones to hold that opinion. From January 2017 the British Library will put on display Austen’s handwritten notes of what friends, family and correspondents thought of the novel. They’re not all complimentary.

Of the documents on display is one which shows that Jane Austen’s mother Cassandra, thought that Mansfield Park was not as good as Pride & Prejudice and found the heroine, Fanny Price, “insipid”. On the upside, Jane’s sister Cassandra was “fond of Fanny” and “delighted much in Mr Rushworth’s stupidity”.

That’s not the worst review of Mansfield Park on display though. Other writings of Austen’s show that she recorded the thoughts of a lady called Augusta Bramstone, who thought Sense & Sensibility and Pride & Prejudice “nonsense … but [she] expected to like M.P. better, & having finished the 1st vol. – flattered herself she had got through the worst”.

Poor Jane! We can’t help but feel at the Jane Austen News that it’s a little ironic, given these reviews, that Mansfield Park was the novel which made her the most money within her lifetime!


 Jane Austen Could Make You £20,000   

There was a lot of buzz around the first batch of the Winston Churchill £5 notes which were released back in September, but jane-austenthey’re out now so it would make sense that the next batch of notes to be released wouldn’t have the same level of excitement surrounding them. However, we at the Jane Austen News are looking forward to the new release of notes more than the last one, because four of the new plastic £5 notes which have just been released into circulation carry a tiny engraving which could make the note worth as much as £20,000. That engraving is of Jane Austen.

World famous “micro engraver” Graham Short, from Birmingham, was commissioned to etch a microscopic image onto four of the polymer notes, and he has carved tiny portraits of Jane Austen onto the special notes, next to the images of Sir Winston Churchill and Big Ben. On some of the notes will also be classic quotes from Emma, Pride and Prejudice, and Mansfield Park. We hope we’ll get to see one or two at least; so if you happen to find one do take a photo and show us!

 


A Kind of Jane Austen Panto  
image-5It’s definitely panto season, and the production from LipService which is currently touring sounds like a great Jane Austen version of a panto. A good one to watch over the next month or two if the opportunity arises.

Mr Darcy Loses the Plot has been reviewed to be a “quirky, side-splitting comedy”, which tells the (alternative) story of Jane writing Pride and Prejudice. Jane is writing but then she hears someone approaching, so she hides her work and goes to see who has come. Now Mr Darcy sees his chance and rewrites his storyline….and it’s rather different from the one Jane had in mind.

Maggie Fox and Sue Ryding of LipService have gained a number of plaudits over the years since their first performance together in 1985. They are now one of the most firmly established touring companies in the UK, and will be visiting Manchester, Lancaster, Leeds and Keswick with Mr Darcy Loses the Plot over the coming weeks.


Persuasion Minus Bonnets   

   
However, another Jane Austen stage production for those who prefer their Austen to be more true to the original is the persuasionupcoming production of Persuasion, which will be adapted and directed by renowned dramatist Jeff James, and staged at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre from the 25th of May 2017 to the 24th of June 2017.

The theatre had this to say of the production so far; “In 2017, the bicentenary of Persuasion’s publication and of Jane Austen’s death, this bold new adaptation brings all the sharp observation and quick wit of Austen’s novel to the stage, without a bonnet in sight.”

There’s not much information on the production currently available, but the “without a bonnet in sight” statement has certainly got us intrigued…


When Dating Gets You Down…Turn to Austen   
Are Jane Austen's Heroine's Ideal Women?The Jane Austen News found a good reminder this week for why Jane Austen is such an excellent author to read when real life is getting you down. Amy Smith writing for the online magazine Verily told readers why, around Christmas, she as a single girl finds reading the novels of Jane a comfort;
1. Change can come – Just think of Mr Darcy overcoming his pride. “Who among us single gals doesn’t need a reminder that our mistakes don’t define us and that change can often lead to love?”
2. Second chances happen – As shown with Anne and Captain Wentworth in Persuasion.
3. No two are the same – All of Jane’s heroines are distinctly different, but they all get a happy ending that’s right for them.
4. Good trumps games – When doing the wrong thing looks tempting we’re shown that bad guys like Willoughby and John Thorpe get their comeuppance.
5. Hope wins out – Jane’s prayers are especially full of hope and thankfulness.
So if the holiday season gets you down, it’s time to open one of Jane’s novels.

A Visit From Ricky Gervais and Jane Fallon    

When celebrities come to the city to perform at Bath’s Theatre Royal, they sometimes use some of their time in Bath to come and visit us at the Jane Austen Centre. This week we had the pleasure of welcoming the comedian and TV personality Ricky Gervais, and his partner, writer and producer Jane Fallon, to the centre. Ricky was in Bath for a one-night only performance of Ricky Gervais and Guests – Work in Progress.

Here’s Jane meeting our Lizzy Bennet:

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Jane Austen Day with Charlotte

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Certificate of Excellence for the Regency Tea Room

Regency Tea RoomThe Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre earns the 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence.

Honoured as a Top Performing Tearoom as Reviewed by Travellers on the
World’s Largest Travel Site

Bath, Uk – The Regency Tea Room at the Jane Austen Centre today announced that it has received a TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence award. The accolade, which honours hospitality excellence, is given only to establishments that consistently achieve outstanding traveller reviews on TripAdvisor, and is extended to qualifying businesses worldwide. Only the top-performing 10 per cent of businesses listed on TripAdvisor receive this prestigious award.

To qualify for a Certificate of Excellence, businesses must maintain an overall rating of four or higher, out of a possible five, as reviewed by travellers on TripAdvisor, and must have been listed on TripAdvisor for at least 12 months. Additional criteria include the volume of reviews received within the last 12 months.

Lenka Winter, the Tea Room Manager is pleased to receive a TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence,” said,“We strive to offer our customers a memorable experience, and this accolade is evidence that our hard work is translating into positive reviews on TripAdvisor.”

“TripAdvisor is delighted to celebrate the success of businesses around the globe, from Sydney to Chicago, Sao Paulo to Rome, which are consistently offering TripAdvisor travellers a great customer experience,” said Alison Copus, Vice President of Marketing for TripAdvisor for Business. “The Certificate of Excellence award provides top performing establishments around the world the recognition they deserve, based on feedback from those who matter most – their customers.”

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Submit an Article

fankncasIf you are reading this page, chances are you have a deep and abiding love for Jane Austen and her works. Like many of our readers, you may also enjoy writing about Jane, be it research about her time period, her life, her novels, or reviews of her works (and those inspired by her works). We love hearing from you, and we love posting articles from Janeites around the globe.

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When preparing an article for publication, it is first laid out in a format compatible with our site. We also like to include a brief biography (a line or two will do) about the author. If you have images to include, please include them as separate attachments to the article. Those with blogs, shops and other types of businesses often like to include links to them, as well. The author is then able to proof the piece and make any changes they  might like.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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An Introduction to Jane Austen Sequels

By Laurel Ann Nattress

In the Beginning

We know that Jane amused her family with the future life of her characters from her nephew James Edward Austen-Leigh’s biography Jane Austen: A Memoir (1870):

“She would, if asked, tell us many little particulars about the subsequent career of some of her people. In this traditionary way we learned that Miss Steele never succeeded in catching the Doctor; that Kitty Bennet was satisfactorily married to a clergyman near Pemberley, while Mary obtained nothing higher than one of her uncle Philips’ clerks, and was content to be considered a star in the society of Meriton; that the “considerable sum”’ given by Mrs. Norris to William Price was one pound; that Mr. Woodhouse survived his daughter’s marriage, and kept her and Mr. Knightley from settling at Donwell, about two years; and that the letters placed by Frank Churchill before Jane Fairfax, which she swept away unread, contained the word “pardon”. Of the good people in Northanger Abbey and Persuasion we know nothing more than what is written: for before those works were published their author had been taken away from us, and all such amusing communications had ceased for ever.”

Family Efforts:
As early as the 1850’s Jane Austen’s family attempted to complete her unfinished works. Some succeeded. Others did not.

Austen’s niece Catherine Anne Hubback (1818-1877), the daughter of her brother Frank, published The Younger Sister: A Novel (T. C. Newby) in 1850. It was based on Austen’s unfinished story The Watsons. Technically, it is the first published Austen sequel in the para-literature genre. It is classified as a completion.  In the 1860’s, another Austen niece, Anna Lefroy, was the first to attempt completing Sanditon, Austen’s last unfinished work written in 1817 when she was in failing health. Lefroy did not finish her task. Can you blame her? The shadow of her aunt must have been very imposing indeed.

New Friend and Old Fanices by Sybil Brinton (2007)

The First Sequel:
The first sequel written as an entirely new manuscript was Sybil G. Brinton’s 1913 Old Friends and New Fancies. It is a clever combination of characters from each of Austen’s six major novels worked into Brinton’s own unique plot. Brinton wrote her novel not knowing that she was starting a whole new sub-genre in fiction that would not see fruition for another eighty years. Imagine a book buyer’s surprise when they happened upon the title? It must have seemed fantastical. Interestingly, the author sensed her reader’s puzzlement and attempted to forestall reproof, offering this prefatory note in the beginning of the book, a ‘little attempt at picturing the after-adventures of some of Austen’s characters’, based upon ‘the references to them which she herself made, and which are recorded in Mr. Austen-Leigh’s “Memoir.”’ One can only look back at her adventurous spirit in amazement.  

The Next Generation – 1914-1995:
As new authors were moved to write Austen-inspired sequels, and more Austen family members took up the banner, the output remained slim but the genre was still flourished.

In the late 1920’s, one of the earlier authors to put pen to paper was another Hubback niece. Mrs. Francis Brown was Jane Austen’s great grandniece. Born Edith Charlotte Hubback (1876-1947), she was the granddaughter of Catherine Ann Hubback (daughter of Austen’s brother Frank) who wrote The Younger Sister: A Novel in 1850. Mrs. Brown would write a completion of The Watsons (Elkin Mathews & Marrot Ltd., 1928), and two original novels Margaret Dashwood, or Interference (The Bodly Head, Ltd., 1929) and Susan Price, or Resolution (Bodly Head, Ltd., 1930).

Pemberley Shades, by D. A. Boniva-Hunt (2008)The honor of the first Pride and Prejudice sequel would go to D. A. Bonavia-Hunt’s Pemberley Shades (Allan Wingate, 1949). Continuing Jane Austen’s famous story after the marriage of her hero Mr. Darcy and heroine Elizabeth Bennet, Bonavia-Hunt’s novel would be the precursor of many to come, remaining an amazingly fresh accomplishment today! Another significant contribution arrived twenty-five years later. Sanditon, by Another Lady (Houghton Mifflin Co., 1975) is a continuation of Jane Austen’s last unfinished work. It includes all 12 chapters of the original manuscript of Sanditon and the author Marie Dobbs, aka Anne Telscombe’s vision of how Austen might have completed it. After thirty-five years it remains a stand-out.

Pemberley or Pride and Prejudice Continues, by Emma Tennant (1994)Only a few dozen more sequels were published until the mid-1990’s, when both Joan Aiken and Emma Tennant contributed the strongest impact to the genre by authoring a series of sequels: Mansfield Revisited: A Novel (Doubleday & Co., 1984); Jane Fairfax: A Novel to Complement Emma (Gollancz, 1990); and Eliza’s Daughter: Sequel to Sense and Sensibility (St. Martin’s Press, 1994) for Aiken and Pemberley: Or Pride and Prejudice Continued (St. Martin’s Press, 1993); and An Unequal Marriage: Or Pride and Prejudice Twenty Years Later (St. Martin’s Press, 1994) for Tennant. They were light amusements that puzzled Austen purists, and piqued the more adventuresome of Austen fans. The genre had evolved in numbers and readership, but it was not quite as widely known and accepted as it could be.

The Bar Sinister by Linda Berdoll (1999)The Wet Shirt Darcy Explosion – 1995-
Interest remained strong by the public but guarded by publishers who feared that the market could not support more than a few authors in the genre. And then it all changed when the BBC aired a new five-hour mini-series Pride and Prejudice in the UK in 1995. Screenwriter Andrew Davies had given Austen’s classic story a more energized and sexy interpretation, including a provocative plunge by hero Mr. Darcy into the Pemberley pond. The image of the dripping wet-shirt Darcy was now etched in popular culture, escalating Austen and actor Colin Firth in to mega-star status.

Looking back, it is no surprise that most of the sequels written after the airing of the P&P mini-series were inspired by its characters, especially the hero Mr. Darcy. Darcy’s Story from Pride and Prejudice, by Janet Aylmer (1996); The Diary of Henry Fitzwilliam Darcy, by Marjorie Fasman (1997); Desire and Duty, by Ted and Marilyn Bader (1997); The Pemberley Chronicles, by Rebecca Ann Collins (1999); Letters from Pemberley, by Jane Dawkins (1999); Bar Sinister, by Linda Berdol (1999); and Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, by Diana Birchall (2001) were some of the early offshoots. Even though it has been over fifteen years since the mini-series of Pride and Prejudice aired in 1995, the character of Mr. Darcy is without a doubt the most inspiring to fan fiction writers today. A quick search at Amazon.com brought up over 570 titles with his name it in!

Searching for Captain Wentworth Jane Odiwe (2012 )In the past two years there has been a small shift to sequels written after other novels.  Jane Austen’s final novel Persuasion appears the runner up of her favorites with fans, so it seemed a logical choice of inspiration. Author Laura Hile has written a trilogy after the secondary character Elizabeth Elliott. Mercy’s Embrace: Elizabeth Elliot’s Story Book 1- So Rough a Course (2009) starts the series off brilliantly. Another recent addition is by the talented author Jane Odiwe is Searching for Captain Wentworth (2012).

Austenesque Fiction:
Jane Austen sequels, or Austenesque fiction, are now their own niche-genre in publishing. There are now hundreds of Austenesque novels inspired by our favorite author, her characters, her philosophies on life and love, and her world available today — and even more in the queue. Here at Austenprose, you will find many of them previewed, reviewed and author interviews for your edification and enjoyment.

“‘And what are you reading, Miss — ?’ ‘Oh! It is only a novel!’ replies the young lady, while she lays down her book with affected indifference, or momentary shame. ‘It is only Cecilia, or Camilla, or Belinda‘; or, in short, only some work in which the greatest powers of the mind are displayed, in which the most thorough knowledge of human nature, the happiest delineation of its varieties, the liveliest effusions of wit and humour, are conveyed to the world in the best–chosen language.” – Northanger Abbey

 


A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the editor of the short story anthology Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and Austenprose.com, a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.