Friday, October 14, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do it - A Conversation

Welcome to our conversation of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It anthology. If you have read any of the stories, please feel free to join in on the discussion in the comments!

Ana: Did you like the idea of an anthology of stories inspired/related/connected to Jane Austen? Even if I haven’t loved all the sequels/spin offs/etc I’ve read I am always looking forward to read more and see how I like them.

Marg: I have avoided all the Jane Austen spin offs for the longest time. The main reason for doing so is that I actually haven’t read the originals and so I didn’t want to spoil them, at least  not more than what I already knew from movies etc and the pop culture references that I have gained over the years.

Ana: I have to say that not all stories were to my taste. Quite normal when you realise that there are so many periods, types and settings. Since my favorite genre is historical fiction it is not difficult to guess the ones I liked better - Jane and the Gentleman Rogue by Stephanie Barron (it felt that there should be more about this one btw), Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss by Jo Beverley (a sweet short story in Austen’s style), Heard of You by Margaret Sullivan (I love to know what happens to interesting secondary characters). But I also enjoyed two contemporary tales -  Faux Jane by RJ Meiers and The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey. What about you?

Kelly: I have to admit that I am not a huge Jane Austen fan. I have always been intrigued by her as a person, but I have basically avoided all the spin-offs from her books. I thought maybe I should branch out a bit, though, and this book looked like an interesting way to get brief glimpses of the potential stories that can come about because of Jane Austen. I was basically lost when the stories were about characters from Jane Austen’s novels. I have only read Pride & Prejudice and that was a few years ago now. I think I missed a lot when the stories centred around that.

I did enjoy some of the stories, though. I enjoyed ‘Jane Austen’s Nightmare’ by Syrie James, which was actually the very first story in the book. It is imagined that Jane Austen gets the chance in her dream to visit with characters from her novels. I enjoy the idea because not all of the characters were that happy with how they were written. The funny thing is that when I was reading Ana’s response, I could just basically copy and past because I also enjoyed Jane and the Gentleman Rogue (really must read more than the one book I have read from this series), Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss, Faux Jane by RJ Meiers, and The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey. I also sort of liked A Night at Northanger by Lauren Willig because I like ghost stories.

Marg: Really it was the mention of two authors that made me want to read the anthology - Lauren Willig and Adriana Trigiani! The others were all new to me! One surprise for me was that Frank Delaney is one of the co-authors that writes under the name F J Meier. I had no idea!
As to favourites, mine were Jo Beverley’s Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss, Jane Austen’s Nightmare by Syrie James, Intolerably Stupid and Heard of You by Margaret C Sullivan.

Ana: Kelly aren’t you curious now to try some of Austen’s other books? Some of the stories I enjoyed because they were related to my favourite, Persuasion, and I know I wouldn’t have enjoyed Margaret Sullivan’s Heard of You and Brenna Aubrey’s The Love Letter as much if I hadn’t read Persuasion first. Heard of You is a really sweet story about the Crofts, so well written that I had no trouble believing that that’s their real story. The Love Letter is a contemporary but also very nicely written and with a perfect last sentence!

Kelly: Yes, I really think I would have enjoyed this collection more if I had read the actual novels they were based off. I felt like I was missing out by not knowing the original stories. In some cases it wasn’t that much of a problem for me, but in other cases I wasn’t really all that interested in the story. ‘The Love Letter’ still worked for me, though.

Marg: I thought Heard of You worked pretty well despite the fact that I hadn’t read Persuasion. It was still one of my favourites.
I wanted to specifically comment on Brenna Aubrey’s story The Love Letter. Brenna was the winner of a short story contest that was held to choose one story to put into the anthology. I was very impressed with it, and thought it held up pretty well in comparison to the other stories in the collection.

We thought we would give just a brief one or two line glimpse of our thoughts about each of the stories.

Jane Austen’s Nightmare by Syrie James - (Ana) What if Jane Austen met her characters and found out they weren’t all that happy with how she portrayed them? A true nightmare for the author.

Waiting: A story inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion by Jane Odiwe - (Kailana) A spin-off from Austen’s novel Persuasion where a romance that has been put on hold is rekindled and taken to the next level.

A Night at Northanger by Lauren Willig - (Marg) When Cate left journalism school  she was hoping for CNN or some other respected news agency - not Ghost Trekkers. Ghost Trekkers has however lead her to Northanger which may or not be haunted!

Jane and the Gentleman Rogue: Being a fragment of a Jane Austen mystery by Stephanie Barrons - (Ana) Jane Austen gets to play the detective and find out who is trying to pass some naval secrets to France. She and Lord Harold seem to share an interesting friendship while they both protect the nation’s best interests.

Faux Jane by F J Meier - (Kailana) Did you know it was impossible to possess a signed first-edition of Pride & Prejudice? Many people do not, so it makes easy targets for swindlers and thieves.

Nothing Less than Fairy-land by Monica Fairview (Marg) - Emma and Mr Knightley are married but it is not all smooth sailing. In order to compromise, Knightley has agreed to live at Emma’s home, but Mr Woodhouse is not making it easy.

Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane by Adriana Trigiani - (Ana) On the occasion of her niece’s wedding Aunt Jane shares some interesting advice and congratulates her.

Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss by Jo Beverley - (Kailana) This was a quaint story about the magic behind mistletoe for a woman that has been widowed and a man that she believes is too good for her. Jane Austen makes an appearance and inspires a romance.

When Only a Darcy Will Do by Beth Pattillo - (Marg) An impoverished student in London is trying to make a little cash on the side and so has organised a tour of Jane Austen’s London. Each week she dresses up in period costume and waits for her first paying customer. When he turns up full dressed as a Regency gentleman she finds out that sometimes only a Darcy will do!

Heard of You by Margaret C Sullivan - (Ana) How the Admiral Croft and Sophie Wentworth met and fell in love, and the role that Captain Wentworth played in their story.

The Ghostwriter by Elizabeth Aston - (Kailana) Sara, an author, is in love with Mr. Darcy to the point where the man she is with, Charles, can’t take it anymore. He leaves her, but her life is about to drastically change because Jane Austen herself appears to help her out with both her career and her love life.

Mr Bennet Meets His Match by Amanda Grange - (Marg) The story of how Mr and Mrs Bennet met!

Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! by Janet Mullany - (Ana) A teacher makes Jane Austen appealing to her students by making them imagine that the characters are the Beatles.

Letters to Lydia by Maya Slater - (Kailana) As the title says, these are letters that are written to Lydia Bennet. They come from Maria Lucas who played a minor role in Pride & Prejudice, but was present for most major events.

The Mysterious Closet: A Tale by Myretta Robens- (Marg) Cathy needs a break from her life, especially given her broken heart, and so books a room at a converted abbey, not realising that it was haunted... or perhaps Henry is real?

Jane Austen’s Cat by Diana Birchall - (Ana) Jane Austen likes to tell stories to her nieces and in this one the main characters are cats.

Me and Mr Darcy, Again.... by Alexandra Potter (Marg) - A Mr Darcy obsessed tourist in London realises that her fascination with him may be getting in the way of her happiness. With Mr Darcy  helping to orchestrate events with her boyfriend will there be a happy ever after?

What Would Austen Do? by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway - (Marg) When your name is James Austen there’s not much chance that you wouldn’t know the stories of Jane Austen, or at least think you know them without actually having read them. That is until you meet a young lady who you think may be a kindred spirit. Contained my favourite quote of the whole anthology.

“In Jane Austen it’s always a big deal - what people are versus what people think they are.”

The Riding Habit by Pamela Aidan - (Ana) - A sequel of Pride and Prejudice. Mr Darcy want to teach his wife to ride but her first day doesn’t go as smoothly as planned.

The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey - (Marg) - Mark is a Doctor just about to sit the most important exam of his career. What he doesn’t need is the distraction of a mystery page from a book, and thinking about his love life, particularly the woman he left behind a few years before.

The Chase by Carrie Bebris - (Marg) The story of the ship board battles which led to Jane Austen’s brother becoming a Captain in the Navy. He eventually rose through the ranks to become Admiral of the Fleet

Intolerably Stupidity by Laurie Viera Rigler - (Ana) - Contemporary writers are tried by how they portrayed Mr Darcy in all the sequels and spin offs they wrote. Judge Catherine de Bourgh presides...


  1. I own a copy of this (a contest win from the editor), and I can't wait to read it. I want to do it once I've read all of Auasten's original novels, so I can truly appreciate it. (Three novels left!) :-)

  2. I have not read this book yet, but look forward to it so much. I like seeing how it even received a positive feel from those who haven't read Austen or aren't even fans.
    Good stuff! Thanks for the discussion.

  3. I have read all of Jane Austens novels many times over and read other things she wrote so it surprised me that the one story i liked most was 'What Would Austen Do' which was about a high school boy s introduction to JA. I may be prejudiced because i was such a big fan of the authors book 'Lady Vernon and Her Daughter'. I think how people react to a lot of Austen fiction has to do with how well they really know Austen.
    I also liked 'The Chase' a lot. And while i like Darcy as much as anybody - the Darcy this & Darcy that is starting to get to me.

  4. Jillian and Sophia Rose, looking forward to know your opinion.

    Luci, yes I also think that there's a thing like to much Darcy. I wouldn't mind seeing more of Captain Wentworth.

    pseudophilosopher, do grab a copy if you can. :-)