Jane Austen falls into the latter category for me and that includes books inspired by her literary legacy.
The other day, I finished reading Kathleen A. Flynn's The Jane Austen Project, which is not an academic study as one might think upon first glance but rather a debut novel with a rather creative premise.
Dr. Rachel Katzman and actor Liam Finucane travel from a not too distant future to England of 1815, volunteers in a time travel experiment whose goal is to seek out the acquaintance of Jane Austen. They are charged with finding and making copies of her letters to elder sister Cassandra(which were destroyed upon her death) as well as the completed manuscript of Austen's final yet unfinished novel The Watsons.
With Liam maintaining an identity as a doctor, he is first able to be introduced to Jane's brother Henry,particular when Henry falls ill for a brief time. During their growing friendship,it is not long before Henry takes a fancy to Rachel, enough of one that she is introduced to the rest of the Austen family and most importantly, Jane.
To make matters perhaps worse, Rachel and Liam find themselves becoming romantically attached to each other, a dangerous issue considering the personae they have adapted for this moment in time.
Will their Jane Austen goals be met or are Rachel and Liam doomed to be trapped in time? I shall not say more about the plot,although I can safely proclaim that this is a story that honors the romantic spirit of Austen's works.
The ways of life in the Regency era are well detailed and the science fiction elements are not overwhelming. Instead, both story components are as well blended as a good cup of specially brewed tea.
Rachel is the driving character here and her mixed emotions, from having to repress her forthright nature due to the social norms of the day to fighting her feelings for both Henry and Liam at times, really keeps the story firmly centered. The Jane Austen Project is a charmingly inventive tale that is sure to delight many an Austen fan who often wonders what it would be like to engage with their favorite author or have a foot in both our world and hers:
Jane and Cecilia Woodward have no choice but to close their beloved tea shop in San Francisco, due to their father's financial ruin. Packing up for new territory,with younger sister Margot along for the ride, is not as easy as it seems and adjusting to their new circumstances brings out some long hidden tensions between them both.
When Jane has two potential suitors at hand, one of whom is possibly a bit too good to be true, the bonds of sisterhood may be the ultimate decider in choosing the man that's truly the love of her life. This modern take on Sense and Sensibility sounds like a delightful lark and hopefully, the Willoughby of this story is more of a heartwarmer than a heartbreaker:
I will get to that one soon but at the moment, I'm enjoying a reread of Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen and later this season, plan to revisit The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet as well. Yes, Jane Austen in all of her forms is indeed fashionable for any occasion and a perfect refuge from the hectic romps of the day(summer parties included) yet staying in tune with the world somewhat is just as important, as Jane would no doubt say herself: