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Book Review: Jane Austen Made Me Do It

I got my advance reader's copy (ARC) about almost two weeks ago or so of Jane Austen Made Me Do It: Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart edited by Laurel Ann Nattress of Austenprose. In her first published novel, in which she compiled and edited a short story anthology of 22 short stories by 24 of the most talented writers in the Austen genre. All twenty-four authors were personally selected by Laurel Ann from a diverse range of writing backgrounds and interests including: popular Austenesque fiction, best-selling literary fiction, historical fiction, romance, mystery, contemporary chick-lit, paranormal, and one new debut voice, a grand prize winner.   

While I've mostly done P&P/Austen related and (you can read more of my film reviews in my Movies Blog), this is actually my very first book review as Ashley (my fellow blog contributor here at the P&P Blog) does most of the P&P/Austen related 
 
Before I do my book review, First, here (again) is the lowdown of Jane Austen Made Me Do It...

Edited by Austenprose’s Laurel Ann Nattress and published just in time for the 200th anniversary of the publication of Sense & Sensibility, JANE AUSTEN MADE ME DO IT: Original Stories Inspired by Literature’s Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart (Ballantine Books; October 11, 2011) is an engaging collection of 22 never-before-published original short stories inspired by Jane Austen. The treasures in this volume include exclusive short fiction, Q&As and reading group material from beloved bestselling authors Jo Beverley, Adriani Trigiani, and Lauren Willig; top Austen sequel writers Pamela Aidan, Amanda Grange, Laurie Viera Rigler, Stephanie Barron and Alexandra Potter; and a brand new voice in Austenesque fiction - the announced winner Brenna Aubrey of a short story contest hosted by Ballantine Books, Austenprose, and the highly trafficked Austen fan site The Republic of Pemberley (Pemberley.com), which receives 80 million hits per year.
Nattress says, “One of the joys of editing this anthology was composing a list of my ‘dream authors’ who write in the genre, and others whom I greatly admire who have been influenced by Austen’s style, and asking them to contribute a short story. My only request was that they stay within the theme of exploring Austen’s philosophies of life and love by reacquainting readers with characters from her novels or introducing original stories inspired by her ideals. From historical to contemporary to young-adult fiction to paranormal, five of Austen’s major novels and her life are featured in this anthology, covering ‘every possible flight which the subject will afford.’ I hope you will be as pleased and delighted as I am by the variety of amusing and poignant stories created for this collection.”
Each of these marvelous works of short fiction reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history’s most cherished authors. As Nattress writes in her introduction, “we all have our favorites.” Mine may be the first in the volume, “Jane Austen’s Nightmare,” by Syrie James—if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Jane Austen encountered her own characters in real life, this one is a must-read.
Now, read My Book Review of Jane Austen Made Me Do It...

I must say, I really loved and enjoyed reading all the 22 original never-before published short stories from JAMMDI novel. Laurel Ann did an AMAZING job putting together all these 24 very talented authors (a few of which I'm very familiar with and have read at least one or two of their novels), the 22 short stories they wrote and contributed, and of course,  editing and compiling them in all one book. The result is a great collection of amazing 22 short stories you'll read in one amazing book! Her introduction was quite engaging, insightful, and informative to read. I love all the familiar Austen quotes from all six of Austen's popular novels included in her introduction. All of the best-selling authors (including the grand prize winner, Brenna Aubrey, of the JAMMDI short story contest) did a great job writing their stories. I do want to say that the following short stories (in random order) were my favorite and rather the ones that stayed with me even long after I finished reading this novel (that's not to say I didn't enjoy reading the others, because I did as well), which I must say was a lot of fun and quite a page turner. I couldn't put this book down while I was reading it!

Here are the highlights or rather my thoughts of some of my favorite short stories from JAMMDI...

Jane Austen's Nightmare by Syrie James
I love how in this story, Jane Austen encountered and met her characters that she created and wrote from her novels in Bath, but it was of something in a dream, a nightmare one. Most of them either have some complaints or something they were unhappy about in the way they were written by her. My most favorite part was when Austen met her most beloved characters Elizabeth and Darcy as well as Jane and Bingley.


Waiting by Jane Odiwe
Her very interesting take on Austen's Persuasion was really fun and entertaining to read. I love how it started of with Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot's engagement and how he was getting ready to see Sir Walter Elliot, Anne's father for a private interview...or rather to ask his permission to marry his daughter once again.


Nothing Less Than Fairy-Land by Monica Fairview
I've really enjoyed reading Monica Fairview's debut Austenesque novel, "The Other Mr. Darcy" (which I was very lucky and fortunate to have won at the virtual Pemberley Ball 2010 with book giveaways I've participated last year!) and this short story she wrote for JAMMDI was another one that I enjoyed as well. This one though was about newlyweds  Emma Woodhouse and Mr. Knightley (from Austen's Emma) and how they were adjusting as newlyweds and their living arrangement back in the Woodhouse residence in Hartfield and of course, Emma unexpectedly getting back to her matchmaking days even though she promised Mr. Knightley she was not doing it anymore as she'd learned her lesson.

Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane by Adriana Trigiani
I loved how this was written as a Jane Austen letter to her beloved niece Anna about the news of her engagement. Beautifully written and It was quite inspiring and touching to read.

Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss by Jo Beverely
This was a quite engaging and fun to read. It was like Sense & Sensibility, but with different names of characters and in a different (or rather modern) time. Loved how the title Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss were incorporated into this lovely and delightful short story, which made me want to read more!

When Only Darcy Will Do by Beth Pattillo
An interesting short story with a mysterious guy who dressed up in Darcy's likeness. When Only Mr. Darcy Will Do, indeed. Basically, any stories with Darcy on it...will always do for me, haha!

Heard of You by Margaret C. Sullivan
This was a really nice and sweet short story to read about Austen's Persuasion, but is told and written in a different way. Even though the newlyweds, Captain and Mrs. Wentworth were not really the focus of the story as it was about his elder sister Sophy and how he had something to do with her meeting her husband the Admiral Croft, then Captain Croft. Loved their untold story of meeting and falling in love due to the young Fredrick Wentworth's unknowing matchmaking of his older sister and the captain.

Mr. Bennet Meets His Match by Amanda Grange
I really love this story of how Mr. & Mrs. Bennet met when they were younger and Mr. Bennet looking back at his marriage proposal to Mrs. Bennet some 23 years ago just when at the present his two beloved eldest daughters Jane and Elizabeth had just gotten married to the love of their lives, Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy. Amanda Grange, who wrote one of my favorite retelling of Austen's classic P&P novel, but in Darcy's perspective, "Mr. Darcy's Diary" did an amazing job writing this short story. I loved reading it from beginning to end and wished it was longer and there were more to when the Bennets had their 5 daughters when they were born and infants/toddlers...like a prequel leading up to the original Pride and Prejudice novel by Jane Austen.

Me and Mr. Darcy, Again... by Alexandra Potter
I've read (and enjoyed reading it too) Alexandra Potter's "Me and Mr. Darcy" and thought this short story made a very nice sequel to it especially with the mysterious and handsome Mr. Darcy on it.

The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey
(grand prize winner of JAMMDI short story contest)
This was a great read! I loved how the present characters' relationship mirrored the Jane Austen's Persuasion characters' Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot. Definitely a deserving grand prize winner as I really loved and enjoyed reading it and the title of this novel was mentioned too!

Intolerable Stupidity by Laurie Viera Rigler
I loved and enjoyed reading Laurie Viera Rigler's first two Austenesque novels: Confessions and Rude Awakening of a Jane Austen Addict novels. This one was another one that I also enjoyed reading albeit written differently but with "Intolerable Stupidity" bringing Mr. Dacy charges to all the writers of Pride and Prejudice (my obvious favorite of Austen's six novels) sequels and spin-offs in a courtroom with Lady Catherine as the judge. The male protagonist's name Fritz Williams was interesting too.

All the other short stories were great too, but too many (and too long) to list here. The random ones I've listed here were the ones I really loved and enjoyed reading the most and as aforementioned, really stayed with me long after I finished reading them. Overall, I thought Jane Austen Made Me Do It was a great collection of short stories in different genres and compiled all in one amazing book. A must-read for all Jane Austen fans especially to those of you who either had read all of her six novels or seen all six Austen adaptations. Or even if you were just a Pride & Prejudice fan (in general), you'll love this too as P&P, Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet were prominently featured and mentioned in most of the short stories written here especially in Amanda Grange's "Mr. Bennet Meets His Match," Beth Pattillo's "When Only Mr. Darcy Will Do," and Alexandra Potter's "Me and Mr. Darcy, Again..." to name a few.

I highly recommend you check it out and read this book! You'll love it! I did! All great 22 original short stories with 24 of the best Austen authors in the Austenesque genre compiled into this wonderful and beautifully edited novel.

Book Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)!

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JAMMDI Editor bio:
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present she delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington. Visit Laurel Ann at her blogs Austenprose.com and JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.

Comments

  1. I met Laurel Ann at the launch of her anthology at the JASNA AGM in Fort Worth. She had a great book signing at B&N, and the line was long and enthusiastic. I now have my own autographed copy. :)

    ReplyDelete

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