If You Love Jane Austen…

If you love Jane Austen, then you’re probably like the rest of the Austenphiles who regret that she only wrote six novels. Sad indeed, but thankfully fan fiction (books written to continue, compliment, or modernize Austen’s novels) has become quite popular and a lot of fun. I’m sure there are purist out there who don’t like this idea at all, but I assure, if you’re in the need of a fun Austen fix this is the road to go.
This post might be a little long, but I’m going to write out a list of my favorite fan fiction picks and give you a heads up about which ones to avoid. Plus, if you have a Jane Austen fan you need to buy Christmas presents for, this is a good place to start.

Fitzwilliam Darcy: Gentleman
Pamela Aidan
The ultimate in Austen fan fiction, this series is so beloved by fans, many have dubbed the author Lady Pamela.
The three book series is Pride and Prejudice from Mr. Darcy’s point of view. Besides being a ton of fun, the books also seek to give a wider view of Regency England than most Austen readers get. England was a lot more politically and culturally volatile than I ever knew. (Look for Mr. Darcy’s opinion of the Waltz)

Jane Austen Series
Debora White Smith
This is a clever and interesting attempt to modernize Jane Austen novels, by bring the classic characters into modern times and having them face modern issues…which turn out to be very similar to the issues girls faced two centuries ago. They are generally fun, light reads.
So far I’ve read:
Romance and Reason (Sense and Sensibility)
First Impressions (Pride and Prejudice)
Northpoint Chalet (Northanger Abbey)
Central Park (Mansfield Park)
The two in the series I have not yet read:
Amanda (Emma)
Possibilities (Persuasion)

Old Friends and New Fancies
Sybil G. Brinton
Published in 1913, this is considered to be the first attempted at fan fiction. The author basically takes all of the characters and situations from the six original novels, cuts them up, scrambles them around, and puts them back together in a way that is meant to marry off the remaining single characters.
So, Kitty Bennet finds herself in the match-making hands of Emma, a reformed Mary Crawford is now butting heads with Lady Catherine de Bourgh, and poor Georgian Darcy is in quite a romantic mess with a number of suitors from different novels.

Jane Austen Mysteries
Stephanie Barron
So far, I’ve read the first two in this series. These book claim to be the long lost diaries of Jane Austen herself, in which we find out that she became a bit of a private investigator during several Regency Era murder mysteries. It’s an interesting series combing mystery, Austen wit, and a little bit of a hardboiled detective edge.

While the fan fiction genre has provided me with several hours of enjoyment, there are a number of books out there that would make Miss Austen turn in her grave.

The Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery series
This one had so much potential, but it ended so badly I returned it. To put it simply, giving Elizabeth Darcy some mystical connection to the spirit world that allows her to stop a crime is silly. Actually, it was outright dumb.

There are several books out on the market who’s main purpose is turn Austen books into trashy romance novels, so it’s important read up on the book you’re interested in. Some of these are obvious (Pemberly Nights), but others seem like good books until you check them out. I found one “what if?” styled series that sounded very interesting, but when I read the reviews on Amazon I found messages like, “I really liked the series, but I wish the author hadn’t gotten so provocative.”

Just be careful and enjoy a little Regency romance and mystery.

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