Monday, February 4, 2013
Jane Austen gets her next 15 minutes of fame
In general, I am not a reader of romance novels. I just prefer other genres (except during soccer season). However, I happen to be a HUGE Jane Austen fan. I mean, really, what romantic at heart isn't. Her works are fluid and beautiful (except Lady Susan, but no one ever seems to count that one anyway) layered with passion and yearning and despair and hope. I love the depth and spirit of her characters, and she does it all in simple stories without too much distracting fluff. I just adore them.
My daughter happens to be a fan of love stories as well, but she is not quite ready to graduate into the dreamy prose of Ms. Austen just yet, so she curbs her hunger by reading cute little love stories and watching romantic musicals (she has recently discovered a love of "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers").
Anyway, the point is that lately I've had the chance to read a few cute love stories patterned after the works of Ms. Austen and geared to young teens that I would happily hand over to my daughter. I guess these tales are en vogue at the moment or something. The books I'm talking about are clean and sweet and will easily satiate the appetite of any young romantic.
First, there is an adorable author named Jenni James who has published several stories in this arena of late. The first was "Pride and Popularity" which, I'll be honest, I haven't read. However, I have read the second book in her project, "Northanger Alibi." This one was intriguing to me because Jane Austen's original work, "Northanger Abby" was a parody on popular Gothic novels of the time so Jenni James' parody on a parody was a fun interpretation. "Northanger Alibi" is a bit of a spoof on the "Twilight" obsession that has made the rounds (I actually really did like "Twilight" but I also love all the spoofs) and it gets pretty funny sometimes. This book was definitely geared toward a youngish audience so it had a very teen tone, but was still fun.
However, James next book in her set, "Persuaded" was really adorable. It is still a play on an Austen classic, but this one worked fabulously as a clean, teen love story. It was heartfelt and endearing and since "Persuasion" is one of my favorite Austen pieces (oh the torment of a tortured soul who cannot hope for love and happiness because it was regretably thrown out even when it was deeply desired) it was great to revisit it with some modern sparkle. "Persuaded" was really cute and very entertaining with a bit more depth than "Northanger Alibi."
James does have a a fourth book, "Emmalee," out but I haven't sampled that one yet so I can't say much about it.
However, Jennie James doesn't seem to be the only author with Jane Austen envy working to modernize her stories. I also recently read "Turning Pages" by Tristi Pinkston. This book seemed to take snippets of several Austen novels and stitched them together into a cohesive love story. It was also set in a library which is a fabulous setting if ever I've seen one. This was a quick read, I breezed through this book in a day. It was a sweet little tale wish spunky, likeable characters. I enjoyed it.
I had no idea Jane Austen was coming back into style. I'm not sure another author can ever really reach the classic, bone searing beauty of her books, but these modern twists made for an entertaining dabble into the world of youth literature (which is a world that I love to dabble in anyway!!).