Books Inspired by the Works of Jane Austen
The Works of Jane Austen
The books in this article draw inspiration from Jane's six novels, which are:
- Pride and Prejudice
- Sense and Sensibility
- Mansfield Park
- Northanger Abbey
Contemporary Novels for Jane Austen Lovers
Jane Austen never goes out of style--and it seems lately that her works are more in vogue than ever. It's rare that more than a few years go by without an film adaptation of one of her novels, and there have even been several recent films about Jane's life itself. There have also been a spate of books inspired by Jane Austen's novels--and one of the more specific, fun niches of what could really be considered a Jane Austen genre are novels where women travel back in time to live in Jane's England and find their real-life Regency hero.
Read on for the best of the Jane Austen time-travel novels.
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Laurie Viera Rigler's "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict" is by far my favorite of the subset of modern novels where contemporary women obsessed with Jane Austen somehow end up back in Jane's England, struggling to fit in to a society that's not exactly how they pictured it.
Rigler's book shines both because of the premise and because she pays attention to the social realities of Jane's day--it's not all balls and romance. In "Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict," Courtney Stone goes through a devastating breakup with a cheating fiance and, after a head injury, wakes up in the body of Jane Mansfield--an unmarried thirty-year-old woman (read: old maid) in Jane Austen's time period. Courtney must not only accept her new reality, but learn how to navigate it.
She's drawn to the charming Edgeworth, who appears to love her at the same time as he appears an untrustworthy cad, and she must also deal with issues of servant-master relations, a cruel mother, friendship, and something we usually don't think about when dreaming of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet--how often people do or don't bathe.
While the book's romance is charming, Courtney's friendship with Mary and her personal growth are the real heart of the book; it's a great read for those who love Jane Austen.
Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict
"Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict" is the sequel to "Confessions," and while I didn't find it quite as engaging, it's still an enjoyable read. When Courtney is thrust into Jane's body in Jane Austen-era England, Jane is propelled into the future and wakes up in Courtney's body in modern-day L.A.
The culture shock here is much wider--while Courtney of course knew quite a bit about Jane-era England, Jane could know nothing about modern-day America! Jane is both shocked and intrigued by the new world in which she finds herself, appalled by the sexual freedom but enjoying the social freedom of the times. She must deal with Courtney's vile ex-fiance while also deciding to open her heart to Wes, who may have betrayed Courtney before the body switch.
Through it all, she takes comfort in the one thing she finds the two eras have in common--the works of Jane Austen. "Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict" is also a worthy read, made more interesting by seeing things from Jane's perspective after seeing them from Courtney's (their appreciations of each other's very different body types is also affirming in today's body-obsessed society).
Me and Mr. Darcy
Alexandra Potter's "Me and Mr. Darcy" is another time-travel Jane Austen-inspired romance, drawing heavily from "Pride and Prejudice." Emily Albright is tired of looking for romance in the modern day, and retreats to the works of Jane Austen to find real romance. She decides to join a tour group hitting the highlights of Jane Austen country, and finds herself surrounded by a cast of spunky older women and one very unpleasant journalist named Spike, who despises Mr. Darcy and makes no secret of the fact (he's writing a story on the Darcy lust so many women feel).
When Emily finds herself somehow crossing over into the past and rendezvousing with the real Mr. Darcy, she's delighted but has a choice to make--between the idealized perfection of the past and the exciting reality of the present.
While "Me and Mr. Darcy" is less fun than the first two novels on this list, it's still a good read, especially for "Pride and Prejudice" devotees.
The Upcoming Film Version of "Austenland"
Shannon Hale's "Austenland" is a bit different from the other novels in this list in that the heroine (named Jane Hayes) doesn't literally travel back in time--instead, a wealthy relative buys her a trip to a fancy estate in England where she can immerse herself in the life of a lady from Jane Austen's time.
Jane has trouble disconnecting from modern life--she misses her cell phone and connection to the outside world--and doesn't find the experience as charming and romantic as she had hoped. However, she is drawn to the estate gardener, a relationship that would be strictly forbidden in Jane Austen's time (and in fact is forbidden on the estate).
"Austenland" is a short novel and a quick read, but Jane is a likeable character, and the other characters add a good dose of humor.
Read the Books
More Books Inspired by Jane Austen
A quick search on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or similar marketplace sites will offer the Jane Austen-obsessed reader a plethora of Jane Austen inspired books. From "Pride and Prejudice" sequels to modern-day rewrites of the stories to women's fiction about heroines who are obsessed with Austen, you could fill a bookshelf with the options!
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