Jane Austen

Jane Austen
July 18 marked the 200th anniversary of the passing of Jane Austen. She died in the early hours of July 19, 1817, after a long illness. This year, Janeites (fans of Jane Austen) around the world have been and will continue to celebrate her life. I would like to share with you my background with Jane and her works and then suggest to you some books you may be interested in reading if you have already read or re-read her novels for this year.
Emma; Clueless; Persuasion
My first Jane Austen novel was Emma. I had to read it for a history class in college. I was not thrilled, but it sounded better than Silas Marner, and my professor made a point of telling us that the movie Clueless was based on Emma. I will not say I fell in love but I did not hate it, so that summer when I was looking for some audiobooks to listen to at work, I decided to try another one of her novels. This time I went with Persuasion. Now I can tell you I fell in love—with Captain Wentworth. This began my journey into the world of Jane Austen.

I realized I was stuck when a graduate school friend asked if I had seen the blog for the local region of the Jane Austen Society of North America (JASNA) and if I wanted to join. Yes, I had seen it and their meetings sounded interesting, but I was wary. I did not want to be surrounded by a bunch of middle aged women obsessed with Mr. Darcy. We decided to check out their next meeting before joining. Luckily, it was not as I feared. We were welcomed into a group of women who loved to talk about Jane Austen, her works, and books.

I can now say that I am fully a Janeite. I am the Regional Coordinator for the Central NJ Region of JASNA. My years with this group have showed me that there are three general groupings of Janeites when it comes to what they will read past The Six Novels. I have named these groups myself and have some book suggestions on what to read if you want more Austen in your life.
Among the Janeites by Deborah Yaffe
First up are the Purists. They read The Six Novels, the Juvenilia, the Letters, the Unfinished Works, and they will not touch a rewrite, adaptation, or sequel. For these readers I would recommend:
Becoming; Education
Jane Austen by Carol Shields

Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen by Anne Newgarden

A Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz

Among the Janeites by Deborah Yaffe

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn
The opposite of the Purists are the Free-for-Alls. These readers will pick up anything even remotely related to Jane and her work. They have read about Vampires, Sea Monsters, and Zombies. They will pick up books that have characters coming out of and going into Jane’s stories and any other idea you can think up. For those readers I suggest:

Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star by Heather Lynn Riguad

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally Smith O’Rourke

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen Flynn

Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

I am a member of the third group, the Inbetweeners. We will read the adaptations, sequels and such but we want some purity in those books. There is nothing worse than picking up a book about another Bennett sister only to read that our happy couples are no longer happy. For these readers I will recommend some that I have enjoyed in the past:

Lady Vernon and her Daughter by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Longbourn by Jo Baker

The Pursuit of Mary Bennet: A Pride and Prejudice Novel by Pamela Mingle

—Amelia R


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