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Saturday, August 23, 2014

Secrets of an Adaptation Addict Guest post & GIVEAWAY!

My favorite thing of possibly EVER is hearing from people that I've helped them in any way to discover something they love. I love helping connect readers to books, and the need to do so (especially in the world of Austen) was the drive behind me starting — and actually sticking with — this blog.
When Katie contacted me this year about writing a post on how a fellow Austen lover and featured guest on AIA, the fabulous Erlynn, actually got her into reading Austen adaptations (to which she is now entirely devoted), my answer was a big, fat, resounding YES.
And my dearest hope is that now Katie's post will pull some of you into the Austen world! (Perhaps even with the giveaway that follows... ;P )

Secrets of an Adaptation Addict plus GIVEAWAY!
By Katie James

Loving Jane Austen can be a lonely endeavor for those who are living within a small –shire in Wisconsin where not everyone knows the difference between Wickham, Willoughby and Wentworth. As a lifelong Janeite, I have enjoyed introducing Ms. Austen’s stories to new audiences and sharing the love for these characters in any way possible. Be it the novels themselves, dragging loved ones to the films, or persistently sending The Lizzie Bennet Diaries links to friends, I advocated Austen whenever possible. But little did I know not all Janeite love is considered equal…
A few years ago, after much cajoling, I convinced a shy friend who enjoyed the 2005 Pride & Prejudice film to join me for a university lecture on Jane Austen. The evening turned out to be quite an eye-opening experience for us both! The speaker was both well-versed and extremely critical of what she called the “tidal wave” of authors and films attempting to rewrite or use Austen’s beloved characters. My friend was actually chastised for her enjoyment of the film because of its alternate ending, and the rest of us were severely warned away from any present-day Austen alternative.
Unfortunately for this woman (who I now think of fondly as the “Adaptation Lady Catherine de Bourgh”), the lecture had quite the opposite effect on its audience that night. In a quiet group huddled outside the auditorium is where I first learned the names of a few authors who were brave enough to continue the story of Austen’s characters. I still have the program with the names “Abigail Reynolds, Linda Berdoll, Regina Jeffers, Susan Kaye, Stephanie Barron” hastily scribbled on it from that night.
A Google search for other retellings sent me straight to Misty and her delightful “Austen in August” in 2012. Erlynn’s post gave me a true feeling of kinship with those who love the many prequels, sequels and retellings as much as I do. “The Book Rat” sent me down the Austen adaptation rabbit hole and I have never looked back!
Speaking with other addicts, I now realize that my initial experience with Jane Austen fan fiction (JAFF) was not singular. Shunning others into downplaying the large market for retellings is commonplace within the strict world of Austen fandom. But why do so many addicts try to force on others a right way to love Jane? Can’t our favorite stories and characters be reimagined with the very wit and entertainment that she herself sought out? I have found many great stories that can!
To date, I’ve read 74 adaptations from the original works of Austen since Erlynn’s post two years ago and have learned so many things about this world. The genre in which our favorite characters turn up can REALLY vary, which seems to be the biggest divider of Janeites when discussing these stories: Should Darcy and Elizabeth do more than just look at each other longingly? Can a Young Adult book even touch the angst level of Wentworth and Anne? Why would anyone not want to see their Emma renamed Cher?
Much like my own experience with Ms. de Bourgh, I believe we can all accept these fresh takes on our favorite stories by finding the genre of adaptation we enjoy. To help, I’ve compiled a list of my favorites into five categories.
For Those Who Want to Take Austen’s Beloved Characters on a New Adventure:
My favorite of all JAFF is the reimagining of the original Austen stories. What if Mr. Bennet dies and the girls are forced to leave Longbourn? Want to see Darcy as a pirate? How about if Wentworth was really a spy for the Crown? What if the spirit of Elizabeth still heads to London after she lands in a coma? These are just a few of my favorite what-ifs:
  • Mr. Darcy’s Obsession – Abigail Reynolds
Reynolds dominates this category with several creative and passionate retellings of the original Pride and Prejudice. Oh the hijinks her Mr. Darcy gets into! He’s had life-threatening injuries, gotten trapped in a flood at Hunsford Cottage, saved Elizabeth from unscrupulous characters at a house party, etc. Lots of fun! I like Mr. Darcy’s Obsession the best of the bunch because it includes plenty of the original story’s angst while killing off Mr. Bennet, marrying Jane to a Meryton local, and dragging Darcy and Elizabeth along for the ride.
  • Only Mr. Darcy Will Do – Kara Louise
  • Haunting Mr. Darcy – KaraLynne Mackrory
  • Perfect Bride for Mr. Darcy – Mary Lydon Simonsen
  • A Fair Prospect – Cassandra Grafton
I won this series in a giveaway during the 2013 “Austen In August” and loved it! It’s a slow-burn story with more insights into the original characters. Darcy and Elizabeth take on Bath!

For Those Who Want to See Another Side of the Story:
We all remember the warm fuzzies we experienced first seeing Wentworth through Anne’s eyes or the joy we felt for Colonel Brandon finally winning Marianne. Would you like to see Austen’s beloved stories from another perspective? Give these a read:
  • Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion – Regina Jeffers
  • None But You – Susan Kaye
  • Colonel Brandon’s Diary – Amanda Grange
I have enjoyed several of Grange’s wonderful “diaries” featuring Austen’s heroes, but love her take on Colonel Brandon the best. I always wondered about the reserved yet fiercely enigmatic colonel from Sense and Sensibility! Grange delivers a wonderfully heart-wrenching tale of Brandon’s love, loss and then eventual understanding achieved with Austen’s ending.
  • Longbourn – Jo Baker
  • An Assembly Such as This – Pamela Aidan
For Those Looking for a Bit of Steam Under the Cravat:
Ah, the smexy books. Romance is probably the most divisive genre and why Austen purists often raise their pitchforks in protest. Although there are certainly larger plot points to these books, Janeites will either love them or hate them because of their passionate elements. If you want your Darcys and Elizabeths to do (A LOT) more than hold hands, I would recommend:
  • The Truth About Mr. Darcy – Susan Adriani
  • The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy – Sara Angelini
Use this fun, modern take on Darcy as a county judge to keep you warm at Pemberley on those cold nights! Elizabeth is an attorney in Meryton, California that fights then falls for the stern legal-eagle Darcy. She quickly finds out that the Hon. Darcy is hiding a large family estate in England as well as plenty of sexy under those robes…HOT!
  • Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife – Linda Berdoll
  • Compulsively Mr. Darcy – Nina Benneton
  • Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star – Heather Lynn Rigaud

For Those Who Want a Lighter Look at Austen:
Modern, fun, light-hearted reads are just as popular within the JAFF community. The best ones feature the mighty Jane Austen herself, or put her beloved characters in today’s time. I found the following to be wonderful, non-angsty escapes:
  • Undressing Mr. Darcy – Karen Doornebos
  • A Weekend with Mr. Darcy – Victoria Connelly
  • The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen – Syrie James
You simply can’t go wrong with any of the books by James, who continues to turn out original and interesting stories featuring our favorite author. My favorite is The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen because James manages to interweave a brilliant Austen “original” story along with a present-day mystery.
  • Epic Fail – Claire LaZebnik (YA)
  • Austentatious – Alyssa Goodnight

The Others I Just Can’t Live Without:
There are several books out there to help keep Janeites on point, in the know and part of the overall Austen love. These are the books I often give as gifts and use as reference material. I just adore:
  • Dating Mr. Darcy – Sarah Arthur
  • The Jane Austen Handbook – Margaret C. Sullivan
  • Cozy Classics: Pride and Prejudice – Jack & Holman Wang
This is a board book and my baby shower gift staple! Simply adorable and perfect introduction to Austen.
  • Among The Janeites – Deborah Yaffe
  • Jane Austen Junkie – Susan J. Brown
I have to give Brown credit for single-handedly keeping me afloat as I drift through the hundreds of Austen adaptations out there. Published in 2013, this little black book offers the names and information of several retellings, complete with check boxes to mark them off as you go. Looking for a retelling or sequel? Brown will help you find them! She needs to update this annually to keep up with all the great new books out there too!
Katie is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to two lucky winners to purchase your own Austen adaptations! Post the title of your favorites and why you love them in the comments below for your chance to win. Open to readers internationally too! Ends September 6th, 2014.

Click the button or HERE to return to the Austen in August main page!


  1. I am a huge adaptation junkie, and I have too many favorites to count! I do, however, hold a special place in my heart for Jenni James's YA adaptations. I don't read a ton of YA, but I was in a reading slump one summer and I read about the author on Misty's site ( I can't recall if it was JIJ or AIA). I thought it sounded fun and light and decided to give it a read. I kid you not, I devoured the three books she had published in 2 days.in my opinion, she captures the true feeling of the story, and seamlessly translates it into modern times. Gahh! The feels!

  2. Over the last couple of years I have read a lot of adaptations, I am not sure which is my favourite - The Secret Betrothal - The Haunting of Mr Darcy - Consequences - A Fitzwilliam Legacy - and go and on - I am just glad that I found this form of story as it has become my favourite.

  3. What a shocker to anticipate a fun lecture on Jane Austen and her legacy to get shot down for not being a purist. I haven't experienced that, but I know many that do. I love so many of the ones you listed, but there are so many more. I'm not partial if it has even just a hint of Austen. Susan Kaye's Captain Wentworth duology and Laura Hile's Mercy's Embrace series b/c they do wonders to the Persuasion characters, Linda Wells' Memories trilogy for taking loveable characters down a new path, Mary Lydon Simonsen's...anything particularly when she sets P&P in other places and times, Abigail Reynolds modern and historical ones make her the queen of the 'what if', Regina Jeffers' Darcy's Passions and Captain Wentworth for sharing the alternative viewpoint, Stephanie Barron's Being Jane series- Jane as a detective nuff said, Kara Louise's Darcy's Voyage for a lovely romance at sea, oh this is hard b/c there are dozens more.

    Thanks for sharing and for the giveaway, Katie!

  4. I don't know if it'd be considered an adaptation as much as an homage, but I really enjoyed Austenland (the book- NOT the movie). And, of course, LBD is a favorite. I'm a newbie in the realm of Austen adaptations!

  5. Over the last 5 years I have seriously O.D.'d on Austenesque fiction! Provided it's not too steamy and not too weird (no zombies!!), I'm game. My #1 favorite is Darcy's Voyage by Kara Louise. Austenland is the title that introduced me to the genre (although it's not a retelling), and while the movie was so-so, I adored the book.

    My list could go on forever! Thanks for the chance to win. CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

  6. I love adaptations and thank you so much for your list! I'll be adding lots of these to my wish list. I really love The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds are of my favorites. While my favorite adaptations are ones set within the original stories, but with something changed. My favorite adaptation outside of that is For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund which is a futuristic Persuasion adaptation that completely stole my heart.

  7. Captain Wentworth's Persuasion will always be a special book for me, as it was gifted to me by a then-new friend, after my kidney transplant surgery and it was my first taste of Jane Austen variation.............

    cyn209 at juno dot com

  8. I am ashamed to say I have not yet read any Jane Austen adaptations. I have read Jane Austen's books over & over though, & now have added to my reading list.


  9. Thank you all so much for sharing your favorites! This giveaway is really just a sneaky way for me to get more book recommendations. My favorite Austen book is Persuasion, and it's so exciting to learn about new sequels and retellings that I've never heard of before. Please keep your favorites coming!!!

    I just finished "Unleashing Mr. Darcy" last night by Teri Wilson - Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth in the dog show circuit? Yes, please! Quirky and entertaining. Would recommend for those who are looking for a light-hearted and fun summer read.

  10. Thanks for sharing what books you love in the JAFF genre, Katie. There are too many to count as my favourites but these are the ones I recall at the top of my head.

    - Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds (re-titled as The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice)
    - The Jane Austen Handbook by Margaret C. Sullivan
    - The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini
    - Compulsively Mr Darcy by Nina Benneton
    - Captain Wentworth's Diary by Amanda Grange
    - Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen
    - An Assembly Such as This by Pamela Aidan

  11. I have most of these books listed. I particularly like the ones under new adventures and another viewpoint of the story.

    1. My favorites have been According to Jane by Marilyn Brant and the time travel books like Project Darcy and Searching for Captain Wentworth by Jane Odiwe.

  12. I thought A Weekend With Mr Darcy was totally adorable! So fun, a great modern take on her books! thank you for the contest!

  13. I love that there are so many genres of Austen-inspired fiction. I love some of all of them so it's hard to choose just a few favorites. I do usually prefer what-if variations to sequels but I'm game for almost anything.

  14. I haven't read many Austen-adaptation books. I only read Epic Fail by Claire LaZebnik and it was really sweet. Pride and Prejudice adapted for the YA!
    Thank you for the giveaway :)

  15. I unfortunately haven't read any recently but these below look/sound intriguing:

    A Weekend with Mr. Darcy – Victoria Connelly
    The Missing Manuscript of Jane Austen – Syrie James
    Austentatious – Alyssa Goodnight
    The Truth About Mr. Darcy – Susan Adriani
    Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star – Heather Lynn Rigaud
    None But You – Susan Kaye
    Colonel Brandon’s Diary – Amanda Grange

    Thanks for sharing these titles! :)


  16. There are many I enjoy.
    Fair Trade Kate Bedlow
    Pansy Cottage Barbara Silkstone
    Pemberley Maria Grace
    Leap of Hope Shannon Winslow
    Fair Prospect Cassandra Grafton
    These Dreams Nicole Clarkston
    Jane Austen Lives Again Jane Odiwe
    Mr Darcy's Noble Connections Abigail Reynolds
    The Abominable Mr Darcy Joy King
    Mr Darcy's Challenge Monica Fairview

    Thank you for sharing your titles.

    skamper25 at gmail dot com


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