Romance and Reason: The Modern Jane

Week two of Jane Month is here and here we are in romance.  Yes, I know, Jane is considered one of the greatest romance writers of all time and I’m not going to review even one of her books.  That’s not the point of Jane Month.  This month we’re taking a look how modern authors have interpreted Miss Austen’s life and works and perhaps no one has take a more modern look than Debra White Smith’s Jane Austen Series.

It’s a straight to the point title for a series that is, straight to the point, all five of Austen’s novels modernized.  Let me start by saying that this is a series I believe both non-Jane and Jane fans alike can enjoy, so stick with me whoever you are.

The books:
First Impressions (Pride and Prejudice)
Romance and Reason (Sense and Sensibility…yes, this book did inspire the topic heading of my weekly romance writings)
Central Park (Mansfield Park)
Northpoint Chalet (Northanger Abby)
Amanda (Emma)
Possibilities (Persuasion)
Now that we’ve got that settled, let’s start with why I think these novels can appeal to both Janeites and modern romance readers alike.

Why anyone can like them: Really, if you like romance novels, you will probably enjoy these books.  The general romantic themes in Austen’s originals, from the tumultuous “tough girl meets her match” to the humorous “overly romantic girl meets reality,” translate easily into modern novels.  I guess romance is romance as far as readers are concerned no matter what your era.  Overall, these are light, fun, at times, thought provoking novels that would compliment a quiet afternoon easily.

Why Jane fans will like them: Frankly, I found watching Debra translate classic to modern very enjoyable.  As a huge Austen fan, it allowed me to look at characters and plots I loved in a new light.  Obviously the girls of Austen could not, in our day and age, just stay at home, waiting for a husband. As Debra imagines it, Lizzie Bennett might just make a good, small town lawyer.  Fanny Price, an aspiring teacher, now has to contend with New York’s girls of high society.  And then there is Kathy, originally of Northanger Abbey, now an owner of her own bookstore.

Why I think, in the sea of Austen Fan Fiction, this series was worth mentioning: There is one fact in particular that I have to give Debra White Smith very high marks on. She stayed true to Jane!!  A lot of modern authors in their renditions miss the fact that Jane Austen tackled some very serious issues of morality.  They seem to get lost in either the romance or the wit of Miss Austen, while leaving out entirely her confrontation of sometimes controversial topics.  Happily, Debra does not shy away from this original intent and confronts some of the bigger issues of our day and age with a perspective of faith.

Overall, I would say that this is a book series for lovers of romance novels, no matter your opinion of Jane.

So, if you’re a Janeite, can you imagine what a modern Austen hero would be like?

If you’re not in particular a fan of Austen, can you see yourself reading a series like this?  

4 thoughts on “Romance and Reason: The Modern Jane

  1. This series sounds interesting. I’m only a semi-Jane fan – not being a huge romance fan except when it comes my way, or I’m in a “mood” for romance – but I might check these out. My mom-in-law is a huge fan of Jane Austen and I wonder if she’s heard of these yet. Thanks for the review, especially the part about faith.

    1. This is an interesting series for the Jane lover, primarily because it opens the imagination up about what the characters and their lives would be like in the present day.
      I would say they are geared a little more towards the traditional romance lover, but the faith part does enrich them. :)
      …putting the word romance and lover right next to each other does seem a bit redundant. lol

  2. Sounds great! We do have one small problem though… I DO like Jane Austen, I just don’t like romance, remember? Oh right, I’m supposed to be *trying to change. I forgot about that.
    I have to admit thoug – I get rather intimidated when you make frightening statements such as, “If you like romance novels, you will probably enjoy these books.”

    And as if that wasn’t bad enough, “I guess romance is romance as far as readers are concerned no matter what your era.”

    YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!! (Sound faded as I got further away. And then kind of had to stop since I need all my air for running.) ;)

    IN SPITE of all the above (lol), I actually do think it would be pretty neat to watch the author re-interpret the novels into modern life. Although I would need to re-read all the orginials first… and if I did that, I might find realize that I don’t like Jane Austen any more either… ’cause she writes romance. :P

    1. I can see this is a deep place for you, Cara. I’ve entered into territory unknown. However, I would say that if you were going to enter the world of Jane Austen fan fiction I would choose one like the last book I mentioned, The Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentlemen series, because that has a lot to do with history in addition to the romance. Kind of ease you in. Debra might over dose you on romance right away and then I might loose you forever….

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