Posts Tagged ‘Jane Austen Sequels’

completeworksJane Austen wrote six novels. You can almost count them on one hand. Those books, and a smattering of Juvenilia, a few uncompleted manuscripts, and a number of letters – some fragmented, most missing blocks of years – are all that we have of Jane Austen’s legacy in writing. Yet these little bits of ivory contain such a vastness of riches that one can spend a lifetime exploring them.

Not only did Jane inspire some of the best minds of her generation, but 192 years after her death her legacy still lives on, spawning imitators and sequel makers and inspiring an entire genre in literature. Her topics were circumscribed and narrow, which is the key to her timelessness. By focusing on the essential and not that which was fashionable, her writings remain fresh, relevant, and current. Jane Austen’s works are popular the world over and, observing from the number of websites, blogs, and discussion forums devoted to her on the World Wide Web, interest in her is still increasing and cuts across cultures and generations.

iheartdarcylgpride_and_prejudice_cb2(1)You haven’t truly arrived until you’ve been imitated. Like Shakepeare, Jane’s works invite hordes of copyists, with new books, movies, games, and comics based on her work and life cropping up monthly. Satirists are having as much fun with our Jane as with Shakespeare. Action figures and finger puppets abound, and famous lines are quoted with a modern twist every day. With Shakespeare it might be, “To eat, or not to eat, that is the question,” while Jane’s famous opening line morphs into, “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a writer in need of a plot must steal from Jane Austen.” We quoth our Jane evermore, but, lacking her biting wit and brilliant insights, we fall short every time.

sense and sensibility and sea monstersAnd now it seems that the Jane Austen industry has descended into monster sequel and adaptation madness, regurgitating these popular culture books at an unholy rate. The new crop of Jane Austen adaptations include Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Mr. Darcy, Vampyre Slayer, Pride and Predator, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. What’s next? Emma and the Loch Ness Monster? King Kong Conquers Northanger Abbey? Mr. Bingley, Werewolf?

At least Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was sensible enough to retain 80% of Jane’s words. Currently, I am barely slogging through Mr.Darcy, Vampyre. The book purports to be about Jane Austen-named characters, but their actions, speech, and motivation have nothing to do with Pride and Prejudice. Neither can Amanda Grange’s writing hold a candle to either Jane’s spare, witty style or Anne Rice’s evocative and decadent language in her masterful first novel, Interview With the Vampire. One suspects that Source Books has rushed this vanity novel out to take advantage of the Monster and Jane Craze. And now Quirk Books has announced the publication of Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Have you seen the trailer? Uggh. The book has retained only 60% of Jane’s words, which means it will be even more action oriented than P&P and Zombies. While thirteen year old boys are whooping for joy in anticipation of this book, we lovers of literature are scratching our heads, knowing that its publisher and author will be happily scooping up dollars at the bank. Meanwhile a more talented and original writer, unable to get a foot through that publisher’s door, will have to work at Burger King to pay the rent.
Mr Darcy, Vampyre cover
And then there are the Jane Austen and sex sequels. Last year, a sequel had Darcy and his Elizabeth making love at least 19 times in the first half of the book. I am currently awaiting two sexy sequels with a bit of trepidation, but I will be frank with you, if these two books are merely about titillation, I won’t be giving them a kind review. There’s a popular cultural reason why the American ending of Pride and Prejudice 2005 contains this scene, which our British cousins didn’t have to see. “Nuff said.

Not for me these wannabe imitators, these pale, faceless shadows of a literary genius whose sun shines so brightly that I reread her words regularly without tiring of her. Enough, I say, of this monstrous Jane Austen sequel trend.  Fun is fun, but desecration is another thing. I know many people feel that this is an innovative way to introduce young people to Jane Austen’s splendid novels. I say, let’s stop the monster madness now and introduce Jane to new readers in a more proper way.

More on this topic

  • Making light: Incorporate Electrolyte : This blogger wrote tongue in cheek about a possible sequel entitled Mary Bennet, Vampyre Slayer way back in 2007. Her plot outline is funnier than any of the current crop of books

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Inquiring Readers, Although SourceBooks came out with Old Friends and New Fancies last summer, we waited to review this first Jane Austen sequel by Sybil Brinton until now. Reviewed by Lady Anne

The only real problem with Jane Austen is that she left us with a paucity of books to read and re-read. Most of us find that our favorites shift and change as we age, and all of us want more to read by our favorite.

Sybil Brinton, an Englishwoman born in the 1870s, was the first to address this problem in her book, Old Friends and New Fancies. First published in 1913, the novel rounds up unmarried characters from Austen’s works and provides cross-novel romantic entanglement. Her main characters are Georgiana Darcy, Colonel Fitzwilliam, and Kitty Bennet, all, of course, from Pride and Prejudice. During the course of several months, living the lifestyle of their class and time, these three meet characters from Austen’s other books. It is great fun to see them in Bath, London, and at the various estates to and from which they all travel. Here’s Lady Catherine de Bourgh, characterizing Persuasion’s Sir Walter Elliot as a “foolish old beau,” (I loved that!) and creating a huge scene in her inimitable style, urged on by Lucy Steele Ferrars and her sister Anne of Sense and Sensibility, still causing trouble by their malicious gossip, aided and abetted by Mr. Yates from Mansfield Park. Well-meaning old Mrs. Jennings, from Sense and Sensibility is still making her tiresome jokes about her young friends’ beaux, and Emma Woodhouse Knightly is still trying to run everyone’s lives for them. She and her husband are now living in London, Highbury being too small a stage for her activities. An inveterate matchmaker (one might have thought she would learn, but we do remember Jane introducing Emma as one who thought very highly of herself), Emma here plays havoc with Kitty Bennet. Kitty is still foolish, mostly interested in balls and clothes, but we have hope that she might mature with grace. She and Georgiana, much the same age and sharing family ties, become confidantes, although certainly they have little in common other than an attractive naval officer, William Price from Mansfield Park. The Darcys are quite concerned about their sister Georgiana, who remains shy and a little withdrawn, but becomes an interesting and thoughtful character as drawn by Brinton, and a more interesting foil for Kitty than Lydia was. Colonel Fitzwilliam, Darcy’s helpful cousin in Pride and Prejudice, meets and falls hard for the enigmatic Mary Crawford of Mansfield Park. Brinton’s Colonel is, perhaps, a little more unsure of himself (being that dreaded phenomenon, a younger son) than I would have made him, but he too gets a thoughtful delineation.

Mother and Child, fashion plate from My Grandmother's Gowns, 1886

Mother and Child, fashion plate from My Grandmother's Gowns, 1886

One of the best things about Old Friends and New Fancies is that Brinton gently maintains the tone of Jane Austen’s voice. The stories unfold in a leisurely pace; these people, generally of the same class and station, would likely meet each other, and the various characters fall in with people with whom they share similar interests. We can recognize that Elizabeth Bennet Darcy and Anne Elliot Wentworth would like each other, and are pleased that Elinor Dashwood Ferrars and her Edward have been given the living near Pemberley. The other characters, in new situations and among their peers, generally act as we would expect them to. We are happy to see Sir Walter get a strong come-uppance and chuckle at Elizabeth Elliot’s latest hope for a wealthy, handsome husband.

Austen is more satiric and sharper in her observations than Brinton; this book is a gentle resolution of several of the unwed finding their happily ever after among characters from the other books. As such, it is a friendly exercise and truer to Jane’s tone and ideals than most of the current Austeniana. While it is not necessary to be knowledgeable about all of Austen’s books to enjoy Old Friends and New Fancies, it does help, and Brinton’s opinions of Austen’s characters can only be understood if you know the originals.

Old Friends and New Fancies, surely a work of love, is the only book written by Sybil Brinton. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and reminded myself that it is long past time that I re-read Mansfield Park.

Little is known about Sybil Grace Brinton herself. The daughter of a wealthy Kidderminster carpet manufacturer, she was born in 1874 at Stourport-on-Severn, Worcestershire, married in 1908, had no children, suffered from poor health all her life, and died in 1928, without writing another book.

John Adey, a genealogist who runs the Stourport-based Family History Research Ltd, could find out little more about her, despite weeks of searching. “There’s no known photograph of her,” he says. “And it’s odd that even now, the family can’t tell you much about her.” – Times Online, Old Friends and New Fancies

About Lady Anne, the reviewer: A confirmed Janeite and co-founder of Janeites on the James (our Jane Austen group), an expert on all things Georgette Heyer and the Regency Era, a lady well read and well bred, Lady Anne is known for her discerning eye for both literature and her breath-taking garments made by a select mantua maker. Cloth’d and coifed, Lady Anne knows few equals, and when she enters a room she is a commanding presence. She is also Ms. Place’s special friend and confidante.

  • Click here to read a review about the second Jane Austen sequel, Pemberley Shades by D.A. Bonavia-Hunt, on Austenprose.

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Lost in Austen: Create Your Own Jane Austen Adventure, by Emma Campbell Webster
Please Note: My review of the ITV movie of the same name sits here.

This new novel, written by Emma Campbell Webster, is not designed for the impatient person or for someone who is barely acquainted with the plots of Jane Austen’s six novels. It IS written for the Janeite who cannot get enough of Jane Austen’s most famous heroine, Lizzie Bennett. In fact, the reader is asked to become actively involved in making choices that might lead her to marry the man of her dreams, or to a band of gypsies and a premature end to her adventures. Along the journey to romance and true love, which requires the physical exertion of flipping pages back and forth, the reader can add or deduct points for fortune, accomplishments, connections, and the like.

This book was written for Jane fans who love an experiential approach to reading, such as choosing their own adventure, and who simply cannot get their fill of Jane Austen’s delightful characters. In fact, every time they read this book, the can create another plot. They can also keep score, or simply make a choice between A or B as they read along. All in all, I would say that this book has the most unique approach to visiting Jane Austen and getting to know her heroes and heroines that I’ve read in a long while.
Image from flickr

My rating for this book is two out of three Regency fans. The format was just a tad too complicated for me, but many who have reviewed this book loved it.

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Seraphic Secret includes a quiz in their post, The Annoted Jane from a book titled So You Think You Know Jane Austen: A literary quiz book.
Take a partial quiz here.
And find the answers here.

Buy the book at Amazon.com.

Here is a quote from a March 16, 2007 New York Times article:

This challenging quiz book, intended for professional-grade Austen readers only, arranges questions, in four ascending levels of difficulty for each novel. Some questions are short, factual and to the point, like “How old is Darcy?” (The answer is 28.) Others require interpretation. Why, for instance, does Wickham elope with Lydia, since he is a mercenary cad and she has no fortune? The authors, John Sutherland and Deirdre Le Faye, need more than a page to answer this one.

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