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More Jane for the Jane Austen Purist
Jane Austen only wrote six novels. The current trend is sequels to those novels or updated versions where a modern gal meets her own new-age Mr. Darcy. For many Austen fans, that's not good enough. Here's a list of books that came before, during, and after Austen's life for all those readers who are true Jane Austen pursists. Other books that I couldn't access through Hennepin County's Make-A-Book-List function: The Mysteries of Udulpho by Ann Radcliffe. This is a Gothic novel that Jane Austen read and then made fun of in her own novel Northanger Abbey. Evelina by Fanny Burney. Written in 1778, this is the story of young Evelina, who commits many a blunder in Polite Society before she finds romance. Belinda by Maria Egdeworth. Published in 1801, Edgeworth was a contemporary of Austen's who also wrote society romances about young heroines who find true love. Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant. This is the story of Lucilla, who is similar to Austen's Emma in her charm, bossiness, and ability to fall in love with the wrong man. It was written in 1866.   Print this list Print this list
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Evelina : or, The history of a young lady's entrance into the world
Evelina is beautiful, charming, and has a mysterious, romantic past. She’s exactly the kind of heroine that Catherine Moreland of Northanger Abbey is not. But just like Catherine, Evelina is an inexperienced girl who has to navigate the treacherous waters of Polite Society—including undesirable suitors, boorish relations, and misunderstandings galore—before she can achieve love and marriage. Northanger Abbey is as much a satire of this kind domestic tale as it is of the Gothic style, and Fanny Burney (1752-1840) has as much fun satirizing the society of her day as Austen does twenty-some years later.
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Lady susan; the watsons; sanditon [electronic resource]
The three minor works collected here are the closest we’ll ever get to another complete novel by Jane Austen. Lady Susan is a novella composed in the early 1790s at the same time as early versions of Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. It’s a sassy little tale about Lady Susan, a dazzling young widow who wants her daughter to marry well and herself to marry even better. Her schemes and seductions unfold through letters that the characters write to each other. The Watsons is an unfinished fragment about Emma Watson, daughter of a poor curate who’s farther down on the social ladder than any other Austen heroine—maybe so far down that Austen couldn’t see a realistic way to raise her up, and possibly why the story was abandoned in 1804. Still, The Watsons showcases Austen’s optimism and originality. Austen was writing Sanditon at the time of her death in 1817, and from the eleven chapters she wrote, it’s clear this story would have been on par with the other novels. It begins with an overturned carriage, follows with several cheerful gossipy chapters about the histories of the characters, and ends just when the heroine finds herself involved in a romantic mystery. Several authors (Joan Aiken, Juliette Shapiro, Julia Barrett, and an anonymous “Other Lady”) have tried completing The Watsons or Sanditon, but not one lives up to the promise contained in these small but tantalizing hints that Austen left behind.
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Cover Art: Mr. Darcy takes a wife : Pride and prejudice continues /
Mr. Darcy takes a wife : Pride and prejudice continues
Berdoll, Linda
If you just can’t help wondering about the dozens of Jane Austen sequels (and let’s face it, we are curious), this author has a sense of humor about taking on one of the masterpieces of English literature. This is really the ultimate romance novel. Elizabeth is feisty, Mr. Darcy is dashing, and the book has a sense of humor about Austen’s language and writing style--and about sex scenes between two of the most beloved romantic leads in literature. Furthermore, Berdoll creates detailed characterizations of the new Mr. and Mrs. Darcy and adds new characters and plots to a new historical context. All this means that the book can really stand on its own, as its own story, even though it is a sequel to the events described in Pride and Prejudice. Elizabeth and Darcy are embarking on their greatest adventure--marriage. Elizabeth is balancing her independent spirit with her duties as mistress of Pemberley, Darcy gets involved with the war on France, and they just can’t keep their hands off each other. The story goes far beyond the original, making it a rollicking, hilarious, sexy romp through Jane Austen’s wild side. There’s an equally fun sequel to the sequel, Darcy and Elizabeth: Days and Nights at Pemberley (2006).
Adult Fiction BERDOLL
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Cover Art: The woman in white /
The woman in white
Collins, Wilkie, 1824-1889
Jane Austen’s novels only gained in popularity after her death, but the next biggest literary craze was the Sensation novel of the Victorian era. Sensation novels are domestic tales of romance, like Jane Austen’s books, but they revel in the scandals that Austen was only able to hint at—madness, intrigue, coincidence, mistaken identity, even murder. The Woman in White is the tale of a poor drawing-master who meets a strange woman, clad in white, on the moonlit streets outside of London. He is soon plunged into the mystery surrounding this woman, especially when that same mystery touches the family of the woman he loves. Jane Austen would surely have been a strong defender and an avid fan of the sensational Sensation novel, which has much in common with the Gothic novels that she loved and read in her day. Wilkie Collins, Mary Elizabeth Braddon, and Ellen Wood make up the triumvirate of the best Victorian Sensation authors.
Adult Fiction COLLINS
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Cover Art: Wives and daughters /
Wives and daughters
Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, 1810-1865
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, 2009, Oxford World Classics (originally published 1866) Elizabeth Gaskell (1810-1865) was a Victorian writer with an agenda of social criticism. She was very aware of the Victorian “Age of Progress” and was especially interested in the declining power of the aristocracy, the rise of the middle class, and how the two social groups were forced to interact. In Wives and Daughters, our heroine is young Molly Gibson. Molly’s contented life with her widowed doctor father suddenly gets more interesting when Molly meets the Hamleys, a proud, upper-class family that has fallen on hard times. Then Molly’s father suddenly remarries, turning her world on end. Molly’s life soon becomes intertwined with that of her flighty stepsister Cynthia, and with the two equally charming Hamley sons Osborne and Roger. Jane Austen fans will see shades of the Fanny-Edmund relationship in Mansfield Park and the Elinor-Marianne relationship in Sense and Sensibility. But Gaskell’s novel takes a much wider scope than any of Austen’s, involving characters of all classes and more politics than Austen. Still, the charm of Wives and Daughters comes almost entirely from the central character of Molly, who is modest and direct, pretty and intelligent, lovable and a heroine worth rooting for.
Adult Fiction GASKELL
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Cover Art: Pride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance -- now with ultrav
Pride and prejudice and zombies : the classic Regency romance -- now with ultrav
Grahame-Smith, Seth
As our story opens, a mysterious plague is causing England’s dead to rise from the grave and hunt the flesh of the living. Miss Elizabeth Bennet, well-versed in both the feminine and the deadly arts, is content to slay legions of the undead and defend her family—until she meets the equally skilled but oh-so-arrogant Mr. Darcy. The classic text of Pride and Prejudice is intermingled with episodes of zombie mayhem. Mr. Darcy admires Elizabeth’s fine eyes at the Meryton Ball; zombies attack. Elizabeth tours the grounds at Pemberley; zombies attack. The more familiar you are with Pride and Prejudice, the bigger the kick (or chop, or bite, or beheading) you’ll get from this from this hilarious and ridiculous brawl, but the premise is outrageous enough to peak the curiosity of even the staunchest Austen purist.
Adult Fiction GRAHAME
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Cover Art: Frederica /
Frederica
Heyer, Georgette, 1902-1974
Georgette Heyer was surely the ultimate Jane Austen fan. By the time of her death in 1974 she had written over fifty books, most set in Regency England and featuring smart, genteel young women falling in love. Heyer was less interested in social commentary than Austen, but she sure loved the society. Her historical detail is impeccable, but if what you love most about Jane Austen is the delightful characters and sparkling romance, then Heyer is the author for you. Frederica is a good introduction to her work. The title character is a capable young woman who—at the age of 24—is too busy running her household of precocious younger siblings to be concerned with her own romantic fate. That just might change when Frederica entrusts her charming family to the care of the snobbish Lord Alverstroke.
Adult Fiction HEYER
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Cover Art: Excellent women /
Excellent women
Pym, Barbara
In 1974, the Times Literary Supplement asked well-known authors to list “the most underrated novelist of the century.” Barbara Pym (1913-1980) was the only author named twice. Pym’s career was reborn and she was acknowledged as a major writer. Excellent Women is one of her best-known works and has an opening line comparable to that of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (to whom Pym is often compared): “ ‘Ah, you ladies! Always on the spot when there’s something happening!’ ” Mildred Lathbury is a witty, self-deprecating single woman inching past her prime in an unfashionable London neighborhood. Her quiet life of afternoon teas with the vicar and jumble sales at the church gets considerably more interesting with the arrival of some exotic new neighbors. Pym’s comparison to Jane Austen comes from her quirky characters and stylish storytelling.
Adult Fiction PYM
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Cover Art: Vanity fair /
Vanity fair
Thackeray, William Makepeace, 1811-1863.
There are plenty of less-than-ideal women in Jane Austen’s novels. Lucy Steele is a pert, pretty kiss-up in Sense and Sensibility. Innocent Catherine Moreland is completely taken in by the flirty, wily, money-hungry Isabella Thorpe in Northanger Abbey. The noisy/ nosy Musgrove sisters can’t keep their hands off Persuasion’s dashing Captain Wentworth. Sister Lydia runs off with the wicked Wickham in Pride and Prejudice and cousin Maria is ruined by that charming cad Henry Crawford in Mansfield Park. Not a one of them can hold a candle to Becky Sharp, our delightfully devious anti-heroine of the classic Vanity Fair. Becky, daughter of a starving artist with the barest pretensions to gentility, is a cunning young woman who is determined not to let something as trivial as social status stand in the way of greatness. Becky is the opposite of her fellow classmate Amelia Sedley, a wealthy girl who’s everything a lady should be—delicate, kind, simpering, and simple. Becky, like any good heroine, seeks the security of a good match, but she’s much keener on money and rank than love and companionship. Becky hitches her wagon to the Crawley family, who employs her as a governess and is a perfect target for her sugary charms and seductions. The Crawleys have a handsome son, and Becky can play the sweet young thing to a tee. Becky and Amelia meet again as wives of fellow soldiers and as their fates unfold against the backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars, author William Makepeace Thackeray playfully satirizes both the upper-class society of his day and the novel-of-manners style of literature with this “novel without a hero.” The unscrupulous Miss Sharp has remained a perennial favorite of classic literature due entirely to her wit, charm, considerable sex appeal, and dead refusal to play by the very strict rules of her era. For readers who wish Jane Austen had occasionally pushed the envelope just a bit more, the exploits of Becky Sharp are ideal indeed.
Adult Fiction THACKER
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Comments
On Jun 16, 2009 at 11:33, Glenn P. wrote:
Great list! Your reviews are always useful and well-written. Thanks.
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On Jun 16, 2009 at 12:10, Lilacs wrote:
I agree with Glenn. I look forward to your reviews. Keep 'em coming!
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