Posts Tagged ‘jane austen made me do it’

Source: Review copy from Ballantine Books
Rating: ★★★★☆

Make books the furniture of your home — pile them high, wide, and deep, next to your sofa, your chairs, your bed — and when you’re feeling sad, lonely or in need of inspiration, take one, open it, and let the journey begin.  Just the sight of a book — its colorful binding, gold letters, and smooth leather cover — makes me happy.

(from “Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane” by Adriana Trigiani, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, page 133)

Jane Austen Made Me Do It is  a collection of 22 stories inspired by Jane Austen.  Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose, this anthology features an assortment of authors best known for their Austenesque novels, including Stephanie Barron, Laurie Viera Rigler, Amanda Grange, Syrie James, and Beth Pattillo.  Jane Austen Made Me Do It is the perfect book for readers who want to try a sequel or retelling of an Austen novel or those who simply want to enjoy the fact that so many authors share their passion for one of the most beloved novelists in English literature.

I’d like to highlight my favorite stories in this collection.  In “Jane Austen’s Nightmare” by Syrie James, author of The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, Jane dreams she is walking the streets of Bath, where her characters confront her about how she has portrayed them.  Elinor Dashwood (Sense and Sensibility) and Fanny Price (Mansfield Park), for instance, lament that they are too perfect. In “Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss” by Jo Beverley, Elinor, a young widow in her 30s, prepares to celebrate Christmas with her three children and is frustrated with having to accept gifts of charity from her deceased husband’s cousin, Sir Nicholas Danvers.  When she encounters Jane Austen, who is considered by Elinor to be the authoress of “dangerous” novels that fill the heads of young girls with fantasies about marrying above their station, she learns about a mistletoe tradition that gets her hoping that she might have a second chance at love.

In “When Only a Darcy Will Do” by Beth Pattillo, author of Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart, a troubled American graduate student in London hopes to earn some money by hosting Jane Austen walking tours and realizes her Mr. Darcy may have been right in front of her all along.  In “Heard of You” by Margaret C. Sullivan, author of The Jane Austen Handbook and editrix of AustenBlog, Anne Wentworth hears the sweet story of how Captain Wentworth played matchmaker for his sister, Sophy, and Admiral Croft.  “What Would Jane Austen Do?” by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, authors of Lady Vernon and Her Daughter, tells the story of a teenage boy who, under the influence of his mother and a girl from a summer dance class, enjoys Austen’s novels and stands out from the zombs, vampires, and werewolves roaming the school halls by displaying perfect manners, much to the chagrin of the principal.

“The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey, the winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest, is a beautiful retelling of Persuasion in which a medical student faces the woman who rejected his marriage proposal six years ago.  And finally, “Intolerable Stupidity” by Laurie Viera Rigler, author of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, puts the Austenesque authors and filmmakers on trial…with Lady Catherine de Bourgh as judge and the opposing attorneys acting out their own version of Pride and Prejudice.

The stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It have a little something for everyone — mystery, ghosts, humor, and Regency and contemporary romance.  They feature Austen’s characters, Austen herself, Austen’s relatives, and even modern-day characters somehow affected by Austen and her novels.  While I found some stories more entertaining than others, there was enough variety that I was never bored and didn’t skip a single story.  Nattress did a wonderful job gathering these stories, and I would love to see her create another anthology just like this one.

Disclosure: I received Jane Austen Made Me Do It from Ballantine Books for review.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I am delighted to have Laurel Ann Nattress as a guest on Diary of an Eccentric today.  Laurel Ann is the editor of a newly released anthology of stories inspired by Jane Austen, titled Jane Austen Made Me Do It, which I will be reviewing here tomorrow.  She also runs one of my favorite blogs, Austenprose, and helped me discover the world of the Austenesque novel.  Without Laurel Ann, I never would have read Sanditon, and with her help, I tracked down all of Austen’s juvenilia in a single volume, so I am especially thrilled for her to have published a book.  Laurel Ann is here today to discuss how Austen incorporated mystery into Emma without resorting to murder.  Please give a warm welcome to Laurel Ann Nattress:

Jane Austen’s Emma: A mystery full of curiosity, suspicion, suspense and red herrings – but no murder!

Hi Anna, thanks again for hosting me here at Diary of an Eccentric during my Grand Tour of the blogosphere in celebration of the release of my new Austen-inspired anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

You are participating in my Being a Jane Austen Mystery Reading Challenge 2011 at my blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog this year. You and I both share an affinity for mysteries, and Jane Austen. Combine the two genres and I am hard pressed to find anything I like better in fiction.

Before I delve into my own book, I wanted to focus on Jane Austen’s work and how she has influenced so many writers over the centuries, including my authors – specifically her masterpiece Emma, which not only deals with an over confident, misapplying, and frustrating heroine, but is indeed a detective mystery!

I think it quite interesting that Jane Austen’s Emma is considered to be one of the earliest mystery novels ever written. But, Emma contains no murder! Well certainly not. How could there be something so indelicate as the “unlawful killing of another human being with malice aforethought” in Austen’s genteel setting of two or three families in a country village like Highbury? Nevah! But it is indeed a mystery novel and one of the most masterfully plotted ones at that – full of curiosity, suspicion, suspense and red herrings.

In 1998, the great mystery writer P. D. James gave a talk on the very subject to the Jane Austen Society’s AGM at Chawton entitled, “Emma Considered as a Detective Story,” in which she explains why a book, without a murder or a crime, qualifies as a detective story. Emma may lack a serious crime or a premeditated death, but Austen plants many surprises and clues for the reader, keeping us in a state of puzzlement and moderate anxiety while matching our wits to unravel the plot, including: Why has Frank Churchill not visited his father Mr. Weston for years? What is his relationship to Jane Fairfax? What is Mr. Dixon’s relationship to Jane Fairfax? Who are Harriet Smith’s parents? Who gifts Jane Fairfax the extravagant piano forte? And, many more…

You can imagine my delight Anna, when I received two mystery stories and another inspired by Emma for my anthology, Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Each of the stories are unique and totally different from one other. Stephanie Barron, who has brought us her amazing Being a Jane Austen Mystery series of eleven novels that you and I are reading for the challenge this year, gives us what she pens as a fragment of a Jane Austen mystery – an intriguing escapade with the dishy gentleman rogue, Lord Harold Trowbridge, and his fangirl Jane Austen as a detective; bestselling authors, husband and wife writing team Frank Delaney and Diane Meier writing as F.J. Meier, bring us “Faux Jane,” an urbane mash-up alluding to Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and Dashiell Hammett’s The Thin Man characters Nick and Nora Charles that were featured in the popular movies in the 1930’s & 1940’s; and the popular Austenesque writer Monica Fairview adds new mysteries and matchmaking mixup’s to Emma Woodhouse’s life as the newly married Mrs. Knightley in “Nothing Less Than Fairy-land.” Here are descriptions of the stories:

“Jane and the Gentleman Rogue,” by Stephanie Barron

Jane and the Gentleman Rogue finds the unsettled Miss Austen in the spring of 1806, living in temporary Bath lodgings following the death of her father. An invitation to a ball at the Dowager Duchess of Wilborough’s home in Laura Place throws her into the company of Lord Harold Trowbridge: confidant of the Government, Rake about Town, and spy. The unmasking of a French Adventuress and her traitorous paramour leads to an unexpected meeting at dawn–when only Jane’s wit stands between England and disaster.

“Faux Jane,” by F. J. Meier (Frank Delaney & Diane Meier)

A rich young American actress anxious to marry an English Lord buys a “signed first edition” of Pride and Prejudice as a gift to impress his rare book collecting mother – which, of course, is a fake. The actress’s friends are the story’s two protagonists – a fashionable New York photographer and her chic-restaurant owner husband – they’re Nicola and Charles Scott. The story mirrors many of the snob and society nuances excelled in by Jane Austen – on whom the restaurateur, Charlie (as his wife calls him: he’s “Charles” to everyone else) is encyclopedic. With the help of their butler-manservant, a former hood named Uncle Julius, Charles and Nicola crack the fraud.

“Nothing Less Than Fairy-land,” by Monica Fairview

In this gently humorous story inspired by Jane Austen’s novel Emma, the day has come for Mr. Knightley to move into Hartfield, but Mr. Woodhouse is still not reconciled to the marriage. Trouble looms on the horizon, unless Emma can quickly come up with a way to convince her papa to accept Mr. Knightley’s presence.

This is just a sampling of the diversity of stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It. From historical to contemporary, romance to comedy, paranormal to mysteries, there is something new to sleuth out and discover in my new Austen-inspired anthology. I hope your readers will be tempted to give it a try.

Thank you Anna for graciously hosting me today at Diary of an Eccentric. It was indeed a pleasure.

Cheers, Laurel Ann

Editor bio:

A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of 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 PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Ballantine Books • ISBN: 978-0345524966

Giveaway of Jane Austen Made Me Do It

Enter for a chance to win one copy of Jane Austen Made Me Do It by leaving a comment by Sunday, November 6, 2011, stating what intrigues you about reading an Austen-inspired short story anthology. Winners to be drawn at random, notified by e-mail on November 7, and announced on Diary of an Eccentric shortly after. Shipment to U.S. and Canadian addresses only. Good luck to all!

Thanks, Laurel Ann! I wish you much success with Jane Austen Made Me Do It, and I hope there’s another Austenesque anthology on the horizon!

**Please note that this giveaway is now closed**

Disclosure: I am an IndieBound affiliate and an Amazon associate.

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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