December 16 is Jane Austen’s birthday, and yet … her life and works are the gifts that keep on giving.
They have been adapted, interpreted, and expanded every which way: for stage and screen, in fiction and nonfiction, in memoir and scholarly works, through blogs, memes, and GIFs. The breadth may seem exhaustive, but Austen and her novels are classics precisely because they are inexhaustible. “A classic,” Italo Calvino tells us, “is a book that has never finished saying what it has to say.”
If you’ve dipped into Austen-inspired fiction, nonfiction, or memoir (or want to), let’s compare notes! Here are eight I’ve read and enjoyed in recent years:
My Jane Austen Education by William Deresiewicz. Deresiewicz’s memoir shares his journey from being a too-cool-for-life grad-school type to a grown-up man, achieved through reading Austen’s novels. Each chapter tackles a stage in his personal development and what he learned from reading Austen’s novels. Written with a scholar’s insights but in layman’s language, his discussion of the books is the best part.
Austenland by Shannon Hale. At a hush-hush English country getaway for women of means, the conditions of Regency England are simulated (in everything from food to dress to pastimes), and women are romanced the old fashioned way. Austen-obsessed Jane Hayes is bequeathed a three-week trip to Austenland to cure her of her preoccupation with Colin Firth-as-Darcy.
Get over this? Oooh, that’s a tall
glass of water order – via GIPHY
Compulsively readable, funny, and sweetly charming, it has been adapted for film starring Keri Russell, Jane Seymour, and Jennifer Coolidge. Continue reading “For Jane Austen’s birthday, 8 books inspired by the iconic author”