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Saturday, August 26, 2017

My Eye On. . . | Austenesque Audiobooks I'm keeping tabs on

Earlier today, I had a little interlude with an Audible Ambassadors post, which was coincidentally funny timing, since tonight I'm going to be talking to you, once again, about audiobooks. (This is not a sponsored post, FYI! I've just really been into audiobooks lately.)

It took me awhile to come around to audio, but I have to say, now that I have, I really regret all the time wasted. So, because I'm on an audio kick -- and because any new form of reading means I need to see how much Austen I can work in, obviously -- I thought I'd have a stroll through the pages upon pages of Austen-esque audiobooks and see what caught my eye.

Keep in mind, I haven't listened to anything more than the sample for all but one of these, but here are some audiobooks that most appealed to me and have been added to my to-listen list, and I thought you might be interested in them, too.

Fair warning: I may have gone overboard . . .

[Click on the book cover directly to be taken to its individual page]

The Jane Austen BBC Radio Drama Collection: Six BBC Radio Full-Cast Dramatisations
Obviously, we gotta kick off with the originals, yo!

A collection of BBC radio full-cast dramatisations of Jane Austen's six major novels. Jane Austen is one of the finest writers in the English language, and this volume includes all six of her classic novels.
Mansfield Park: on a quest to find a position in society, Fanny Price goes to live with her rich aunt and uncle.
Northanger Abbey: young, naïve Catherine Morland receives an invitation to stay at the isolated Gothic mansion Northanger Abbey.
Sense and Sensibility: forced to leave their family home after their father's death, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood try to forge a new life at Barton Cottage.
Pride and Prejudice: Mrs Bennet is determined to get her five daughters married well, so when the wealthy Mr Bingley and his friend, Mr Darcy, move into the neighbourhood, her hopes are raised....
Emma: Emma Woodhouse declares she will never marry, but she is determined to find a match for her friend, Harriet.
Persuasion: eight years ago, Anne Elliot rejected a marriage proposal from a handsome but poor naval officer. Now her former love has returned....
With an all-star cast including David Tennant, Benedict Cumberbatch, Julia McKenzie, Jenny Agutter, Toby Jones, Eve Best and Juliet Stevenson, these BBC radio adaptations are full of humour, romance, love lost and love regained. Duration: approx. 14 hours 30 mins.

The Jane Austen Project: A Novel
The sample doesn't have me completely convinced on this one (I'm really picking when it comes to narration, which is why it took me so long to come around to audiobooks), but i love a good bit of time slip.

Perfect for fans of Jane Austen, this engrossing debut novel offers an unusual twist on the legacy of one of the world's most celebrated and beloved authors: Two researchers from the future are sent back in time to meet Jane and recover a suspected unpublished novel.
London, 1815: Two travelers - Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane - arrive in a field in rural England, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. Turned away at a nearby inn, they are forced to travel by coach all night to London. They are not what they seem but rather colleagues who have come back in time from a technologically advanced future, posing as wealthy West Indies planters - a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren't the first team from the future to "go back", their mission is by far the most audacious: meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen herself.
Carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common besides the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in. Circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen's circle via her favorite brother, Henry.
But diagnosing Jane's fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the continuous convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile the woman she is with the proper lady 19th-century society expects her to be. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history intact and exactly as they found it...however heartbreaking that may prove.

Lady Susan
Obvs. I mean, we are reading this one this year. I definitely should have picked this one up when I spent hours in my garden this morning, because it's quick enough to be a one & done. Also, I'm intrigued by the fact that it's a full cast narration!

Lady Susan is an epistolary novel by Jane Austen about a beautiful and manipulative widow scheming to arrange wealthy marriages for herself and her daughter. This book is the basis for the film Love & Friendship, written and directed by Whit Stillman, and starring Kate Beckinsale and Chloe Sevigny. This dramatized production is presented by the Online Stage.
Cast: Elizabeth Klett as Lady Susan Vernon and the Narrator; Beth Thomas as Catherine Vernon; Ben Lindsey-Clark as Mr. de Courcy; Amanda Friday as Alicia Johnson; Denis Daly as Sir Reginald de Courcy; Becca Maggie as Frederica Vernon; Carol Box as Lady de Courcy.

Jane Austen at Home: A Biography
Again, obvs. We just talked about this!

Take a trip back to Jane Austen's world and the many places she lived as historian Lucy Worsley visits Austen's childhood home, her schools, her holiday accommodations, the houses - both grand and small - of the relations upon whom she was dependent, and the home she shared with her mother and sister towards the end of her life. In places like Steventon Parsonage, Godmersham Park, Chawton House and a small rented house in Winchester, Worsley discovers a Jane Austen very different from the one who famously lived a "life without incident".
Worsley examines the rooms, spaces and possessions which mattered to her, and the varying ways in which homes are used in her novels as both places of pleasure and as prisons. She shows listeners a passionate Jane Austen who fought for her freedom, a woman who had at least five marriage prospects, but - in the end - a woman who refused to settle for anything less than Mr. Darcy.
Lucy Worsley's Jane Austen at Home is a richly entertaining and illuminating new audiobook about one of the world's favorite novelists and one of the subjects she returned to over and over in her unforgettable novels: home.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart
I have this book, and have read bits and pieces of it. I think anthologies like this are a great way to discover new-to-you authors, and I kinda love the idea of short stories on audio. I think short stories lend themselves really well to being read aloud, and it means that they're nice bite-sized bits for when you want to listen to something on the go, at the gym, while you do boring housework, etc.

Stories by:
Lauren Willig, Adriana Trigiani, Jo Beverley, Alexandra Potter, Laurie Viera Rigler, Frank Delaney & Diane Meier, Syrie James, Stephanie Barron, Amanda Grange, Pamela Aidan, Elizabeth Aston, Carrie Bebris, Diana Birchall, Monica Fairview, Janet Mullany, Jane Odiwe, Beth Pattillo, Myretta Robens, Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway, Maya Slater, Margaret C. Sullivan, …and Brenna Aubrey.

"My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy's heartfelt words, then you, dear listener, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen.
In Lauren Willig's "A Night at Northanger," a young woman who doesn't believe in ghosts meets a familiar specter; Jane Odiwe's "Waiting" captures the exquisite uncertainty of Persuasion's Wentworth and Anne as they await her family's approval of their betrothal; Adriana Trigiani's "Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane" imagines a modern-day Austen giving her niece advice upon her engagement; in Diana Birchall's "Jane Austen's Cat," our beloved Jane tells her nieces "cat tales" based on her novels; Laurie Viera Rigler's "Intolerable Stupidity" finds Mr. Darcy bringing charges against all the writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels, spin-offs, and retellings; in Janet Mullany's "Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!" a teacher at an all-girls school invokes the Beatles to help her students understand Sense and Sensibility; and in Jo Beverley's "Jane and the Mistletoe Kiss," a widow doesn't believe she'll have a second chance at love…until a Miss Austen suggests otherwise.

This book is just so much fun, I have a feeling it would be a blast on audio.

Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane's fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen: or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It's all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical
This is another one that I'm not entirely convinced by the snippet (it seems like it's going to try to hard to be scintillating?), BUT I am intrigued enough by the synopsis that I want to give it a try.

A brilliant, illuminating reassessment of the life and work of Jane Austen that makes clear how Austen has been misread for the past two centuries and that shows us how she intended her books to be read, revealing as well how subversive and daring - how truly radical - a writer she was.
In this fascinating, revelatory work, Helena Kelly - dazzling Jane Austen authority - looks past the grand houses, the pretty young women, past the demure drawing room dramas and witty commentary on the narrow social worlds of her time that became the hallmark of Austen's work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, deeply subversive nature of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical subjects - slavery, poverty, feminism, the church, evolution among them - considered treasonous at the time, that Austen deftly explored in the six novels that have come to embody an age. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman "of information", fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. We see a writer who understood that the novel - until then seen as mindless "trash" - could be a great art form and who, perhaps more than any other writer up to that time, imbued it with its particular greatness.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Yet another obvious pick. Again, I just reviewed this, and think it would make for fun audio, and, as I mentioned, I like a bit of time slip.

After nursing a broken engagement with Jane Austen novels and Absolut, Courtney Stone wakes up and finds herself not in her Los Angeles bedroom, or even in her own body, but inside the bedchamber of a woman in Regency England. Who but an Austen addict like herself could concoct such a fantasy?
Not only is Courtney stuck in another woman's life, she is forced to pretend she actually is that woman. And despite knowing nothing about her, she manages to fool even the most astute observer. But not even her love of Jane Austen has prepared Courtney for the chamber pots and filthy coaching inns of 19th-century England, let alone the realities of being a single woman who must fend off suffocating chaperones, condomless seducers, and marriages of convenience. Enter the enigmatic Mr. Edgeworth, who fills Courtney's borrowed brain with confusing memories that are clearly not her own.
Try as she might to control her mind and find a way home, Courtney cannot deny that she is becoming this other woman - and being this other woman is not without its advantages, especially in a looking-glass Austen world. And especially with a suitor who may not turn out to be a familiar species of philanderer after all.

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice: A Modern Love Story with a Jane Austen Twist
This is another one I own, but haven't gotten around to reading yet. But I love Abigail Reynolds (she's in my top picks for a reason!), so I definitely want to give one of her books a listen sometime!

A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist...
Marine biologist Cassie Boulton has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab on Cape Cod. Proud, aloof Calder Westing III is the scion of a famous political family, while Cassie's success is hard-won in spite of a shameful family history.
When their budding romance is brutally thwarted, both by his family and by hers, Calder tries to set things right by rewriting the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice...but will Cassie be willing to supply the happy ending?

What Matters in Jane Austen: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved
For some reason, the audio sample wouldn't play on this one, so I can't speak to the narration style. But I WILL say, I am forever a fan of useless trivia, and this seems jam-packed with all the Austen trivia and pontificatory bits I could ever want.
And yes, I did make that word up.

Which important Austen characters never speak? Is there any sex in Austen? What do the characters call one another, and why? What are the right and wrong ways to propose marriage? In What Matters in Jane Austen?, John Mullan shows that we can best appreciate Austen's brilliance by looking at the intriguing quirks and intricacies of her fiction. Asking and answering some very specific questions about what goes on in her novels, he reveals the inner workings of their greatness.
In 20 short chapters, each of which explores a question prompted by Austen’s novels, Mullan illuminates the themes that matter most in her beloved fiction. Listeners will discover when Austen's characters had their meals and what shops they went to; how vicars got good livings; and how wealth was inherited. What Matters in Jane Austen? illuminates the rituals and conventions of her fictional world in order to reveal her technical virtuosity and daring as a novelist. It uses telling passages from Austen's letters and details from her own life to explain episodes in her novels: listeners will find out, for example, what novels she read, how much money she had to live on, and what she saw at the theater.
Written with flair and based on a lifetime's study, What Matters in Jane Austen? will allow listeners to appreciate Jane Austen's work in greater depth than ever before.

Jane Vows Vengeance
The sample on this also wouldn't play, but it looks so gloriously cheesy, I had to include it. Sometimes you just need that!

How will Jane Austen break the news to her fiancé that she’s not only undead, but also a 200-plus-year-old literary icon?
In sleepy upstate New York, Jane’s wedding preparations have taken on a bloodsucking intensity. So when Walter suggests they ditch it all and combine their marriage and honeymoon with a house tour of Europe, Jane jumps at the chance to flee Lord Byron and the lingering threat of Charlotte Brontë. But to Jane’s chagrin, more than one secret from her past is about to resurface.
From an Agatha Christie-style murder mystery to a wedding interrupted by the ghosts of the Princes in the Tower to a shocking revelation about Walter’s mother, nothing about this trip is less than pure mayhem. And when a chance encounter puts Jane on the trail of a legendary device reputed to restore a vampire’s human soul, will our beloved heroine finally be able to vow her love and devotion - or will a vampire hunter’s vengeance drive a stake through her eternal life?

And lastly, the one that I can thoroughly and whole-heartedly recommend, because I've actually listented to it! And intend to again, actually. This book was so super fun (as you'd probably guess from the times Alyssa has guested on the blog), and the narration was fantasticly hilarious.

While browsing in an Austin shop, Nicola James finds a blank vintage journal hidden among a set of Jane Austen novels. Even though Nic is a straitlaced engineer, she's still a sucker for anything Austen-esque. But her enthusiasm turns to disbelief once she starts writing in the journal - because somehow, it's writing her back.... Itching for a bit of excitement, Nic decides to follow her "Fairy Jane's" advice.
The result: a red-hot romance with a sexy Scottish musician who charms his way into Nic's heart in about five seconds flat. But a guy like Sean doesn't exactly fit into her life plan. With no one but Fairy Jane to guide her, Nic must choose between the life she thought she wanted - and the kind of happy ending she never saw coming....

There were so, so many more I wanted to include, you guys! Seriously, I had to rein myself in hard.

Do you have any favorite Austen-ish audiobooks to recommend? I DEFINITELY want to hear about them in the comments (please please please!) because, as I said, I'm in a real audiobook mode at the mo'! 

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  1. I've read "What Matters in Jane Austen" and from what I remember it was quite interesting! I keep circling back to "The Jane Austen Project." I'm not 100% sold on the synopsis, but I find the concept really intriguing. I will probably pick up a copy at some point!

    My favorite Austen book on audio was the new Pride and Prejudice read by Rosamund Pike. Emma was a chore to get through on audio because of the long speeches characters make that are basically nonsense!

  2. Oh, fun ones. I'll have to check some of these out. I've listened to Stephanie Flowers' Jane & Austen, PO Dixon's To Have His Cake and Eat It Too narrated by Pearl Hewitt and Hope & Sensibility narrated by Pearl Hewitt, Northanger Abbey (Naxos) narrated by Juliet Stevenson, Persuasion (can't recall the narrator), Rumours & Recklessness by Nicole Clarkston narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, The Falmouth Connection by Joana Starnes narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, Pride & Prejudice narrated by Rosamund Pike, and just finished Lady Susan by several narrators.

    I've got Mr. Bennet's Dutiful Daughter by Joana Starnes, narrated by Stevie Zimmerman, along with S&S, MP, and Emma still to listen to on my Audible shelf.

    My favorite narrators of the group are Juliet Stevenson, Rosamund Pike, and Stevie Zimmerman. I still have many more to listen to to sort out more narrators to enjoy.


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