Saturday, November 26, 2011
Just Finished: Jane Austen Made Me Do It
Ah, Jane Austen.
I admit, I have not yet read all six of her novels (Northanger Abbey or Mansfield Park are still on my to be read list) but I still consider myself an Austen fan. So much so that I actually wrote an essay about Jane Austen adaptations for a film class in university (go ahead, be jealous. My roommates were). Side note: I do not recommend watching the epic BBC version of Pride and Prejudice , the new Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly, Sense & Sensibility with Emma Thompson, and Emma with Gwyneth Paltrow all in the same week. I swear I was talking like the characters for days afterwards.
Back to the point of this post...Jane Austen Made Me Do It - a collection of short stories about or inspired by Jane Austen herself. The collection was edited by Laurel Ann Nattress, the creator of the website Austenprose. Overall, I loved reading these short stories. It took me awhile to get through because of other things happening in my life but it was a great read. Like most short story collections there were some stories that I loved and some that I didn't like quite as much. For the most part though, I was able to enjoy every single story.
What I liked about this collection was the variety in the stories. Some of them featured Jane Austen, like Lauren Willig's "A Night at Northanger" while others, such as "The Riding Habit" by Pamela Aidan, were continuations of some of Austen's novels. Some others took Austen's characters and plopped them in the real world ("Me and Mr. Darcy, Again..." by Alexandra Potter). There were even some stories that just featured someone who loved Jane Austen's work, like "Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!" by Janet Mullany. If you like the setting of Austen's novels most, you'll find stories that you like. If you're partial to some of the characters, well there are stories for you too. If you're just plain obsessed with Austen you're going to love the whole book.
Not only did I like that there was so many types of stories but I seemed to like one from each type. Some of my favourites include:
- "Waiting" by Jane Odiwe. This was a continuation of of Persuasion, Anne Elliot is forced to wait while Captain Wentworth goes to ask her father for her hand in marriage. Ooh, the tension!
- "Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss" by Jo Beverley. This was a Christmas story so of course I loved it. Jane Austen makes a brief appearance, which I really enjoyed. It also has such a happy ending that made me like this story even more.
- "When Only a Darcy Will Do" by Beth Pattillo. The main character is an American student going to school in England. She decides to do a walking tour of London dressed like an Austen character. Only one person shows up - a good looking young man who appears to be dressed as one Mr. Darcy. I really liked the little surprise the author had at the end of the story.
- "The Love Letter" by Brenna Aubrey. This was actually the Grand Prize Winner of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest. The story one plays with Persuasion and tells about a man who evaluates his life and romantic past. It was very sweet.
- "Intolerable Stupidity" by editor Laurel Ann Nattress. When I first started reading this one I didn't think I was going to like it but I was pleasantly surprised at how it turned out. Nattress has created a trial that, depending on the outcome, could see the banishment of any Austen adaptation. This includes the aforementioned epic BBC P&P with the memorable extra scene of Darcy in a wet shirt as well as the newer Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (I don't get this one. Really just...don't). Could you imagine a world where we didn't have any extra Austen? It would be madness. Madness, I tell you!
Any Jane Austen fan, whether you've only read or seen the well known Pride and Prejudice or you're a die hard fanatic who's read each book multiple times as well as anything to do with Austen, will enjoy Jane Austen Made Me Do It. There's something for everyone and that's what makes this collection so great. I also really enjoyed the reading guide at the end. Perfect for a book club pick! I'd love to hear from others who have read this one or those of you who consider yourself an Austen fan as well. What's your favourite novel? Adaptation? Austen-esque piece of work?
Happy reading :)