The Marvel that is Jane Austen

What is it that fascinates us so much about Jane Austen? I know there are Lauren fans out there who aren’t big on Jane or haven’t read any of her books, but I would say that the majority of us are pretty enthusiastic about her.

Lauren has a short story in an Austen-inspired anthology called Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Reviews of her books frequently contain snippets like “Pride and Prejudice lives on” or “Jane Austen meets James Bond.” Lauren has spoken at meetings of the Jane Austen Society of North America (which has state chapters, y’all – this is serious) and is a frequent guest on Laurel Ann Nattress’s blog Austenprose, which is “a celebration of Jane Austen novels, movies, sequels, and the pop culture she has inspired.” So I am not exaggerating when I say that conversations about Jane and Pink frequently go hand-in-hand.

I love that Lauren included Jane in Pink V. I think it works well because Jane’s role is so small – just a few brief appearances, really, and several sweet references to how Arabella and Turnip may influence her future novels. This way, Jane fans get to be pleased to see her without feeling like any of Lauren’s descriptions are challenging a preconceived notion we have of Jane. I don’t know about you, but I never experienced a moment of “Wait a minute – Jane would NEVER have…” in Pink V. Congrats, Lauren! An impressive feat, considering many of Jane’s fans consider her our imaginary friend.

I think that if “Teen Paranormal Romance” can have its own section in Barnes and Noble, “Austen Inspired Novels” should get some space too! Have you ever noticed that you can’t walk down a row in a bookstore’s fiction section without coming across at least one of these Austen adaptations? These adaptations tend to fall into six basic categories:

  1. Continuations of the Austen novels (Death Comes to Pemberly, Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister)
  2. Austen novels rewritten from other perspectives (Colonel Brandon’s Diary, Darcy’s Story)
  3. Stories where Jane is a character (like Pink V or Stephanie Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries)
  4. Stories about Jane’s influence (Austenland, The Jane Austen Book Club)
  5. Modernizations of the Austen novels (Bridget Jones’ Diary, Persuading Annie)
  6. Just plain crazy (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters)

Am I missing one here?

As with all genres, some of these books are wonderful, and some are unbelievably dreadful. But here is what I want to know. What is your favorite Jane Austen novel? What is your favorite Austen-related novel? I’ll play fair and tell you mine first. Sense and Sensibility is my favorite of Jane’s books, and Janet Aylmer’s Darcy’s Story is my favorite Austen-inspired novel. Your turn!