Thursday, July 31, 2014

Jane Austen's Legacy

I’ve been thinking a lot about Jane Austen recently; in fact it’s hard not to think about her. Although she’s been dead for nearly two hundred years, she is rarely out of the news. This month alone has seen stories about the unveiling of a Jane Austen waxwork and a report on a Pride and Prejudice costume ball at Chatsworth.

But Jane Austen’s real legacy is her books. Not only did she write six brilliant major novels, which are still read the world over, but she inspired two distinct romance genres: Austenesque fiction and Regency romances. It’s those genres I thought I’d write about today. They are so popular that has a dedicated Regency romance chart and I wasn’t surprised to find that Austenesque fiction features prominently. There are six Austenesque works in the current top 100, as well as an audio version and a paperback version of Pride and Prejudice. That makes 8 works out of 100 that are directly influenced by Jane. Not bad for an author who has been dead for nearly two hundred years!

There’s a wide variety of styles in the top 100, too, reflecting the wide variety of Jane’s own novels. There’s a servant’s viewpoint (Longbourn by Jo Baker) and a couple of ‘variation’ novellas (Mr Darcy’s Rescue: Darcy and Elizabeth What If? #2 by Jennifer Lang; and The Gentleman’s Impertinent Daughter by Rose Fairbanks).

There’s a romantic mystery with an Austenesque title (Pride and Pleasure by Sylvia Day ); there’s a novel that includes a love interest for Lady Catherine (Remember the Past by Maria Grace), and there’s part of an Austenesque trilogy by Gianna Thomas.

And then there are the Regency romances. The names are not Darcy and Elizabeth, and the events are not those of Pride and Prejudice, but the stories and characters have much in common with Austen’s novels. There are arrogant heroes and feisty heroines who meet at balls, in carriages and on picnics. There are matchmaking mothers, interfering aunts, indolent fathers and annoying sisters. There are books with gentler couples like Jane Bennet and Mr Bingley, or longstanding friends turned lovers, like Emma and Mr Knightley.

I’ll be looking at some of these in my next post, because I have a lifelong love of Regency romances in all their forms.Everyone else on the blog has the same love. In fact, between us, we’ve written hundreds of Regencies and Austenesque novels, and we have read thousands of them.

So which are your favourites? Do you love Austenesque fiction, and if so, what is your favourite kind of story - retellings, what if? stories or sequels? Are you a Regency fan? Do you love the arrogant, haughty heroes or do you prefer the gentler gentlemen? Do you like your heroines to be heiresses or do you prefer them to be young ladies who have to seek employment because of family misfortune? Or perhaps you prefer the wilder side of the Regency universe, with ghostly hauntings, time slips or paranormal elements? Let us know!

Amanda Grange


Fenella J Miller said...

Wendy Soliman writes JA variations too - her fourth will be published soon.

PdxIrishGirl said...

Like Austenesque novels, not re-
tellings as much as sequels and the
modern-day versions and plot twists and things like Jane Austen or her characters as detectives, etc.

Unknown said...

I love all of Jane Odiwe's books. They are modern day books, but told in the way of Jane Austen. I'm sure Jane Austen would indeed give her seal of approval on all of Jane Odiwe's books. Don't just take my word for it, read them and see for yourself. My favourite is Searching fot Captain Wentworth, which is a lovely book and leaves you with the feeling that you've read another Jane Austen novel!
I've read quite a few Regency romances, but in my opinion, Jane Odiwe's are the very best!

Amanda said...

Interesting to know that Wendy Soliman's fourth variation will be published soon, Fenella, thanks for posting.

Thanks for dropping by and joining in the conversation, PdxIrishGirl. You've reminded me just how much diversity there is in the Austenesque universe.

Lee, I agree, Jane Odiwe is a wonderful author (and a very talented artist, too).

Deborah Ann said...

I love Austenesque sequels set in the Regency Era with haughty men who are gentle souls once you break through the barrier to the person underneath.

Jane Odiwe said...

Thank you, Lee, you're very kind to say so.

Liz Ringrose said...

I've just read Longbourne by Jo Baker and loved being immersed in that world below stairs.

Elizabeth Hawksley said...

I know that she's no longer with us, but I've always enjoyed the late Joan Aiken's Jane Austen novels: 'Jane Fairfax','Mansfield Revisited' and 'Lady Catherine's Necklace', for example.

I think her 'Jane Fairfax' is particularly successful. She manages to slip in snippets of the original conversation from 'Emma' so smoothly that it's absolutely seamless.

Amanda said...

Oh, yes, Deborah, I agree, I love all those arrogant men with something warm underneath, too.

I agree, Liz, the downstairs world is fascinating.

I've always had a soft spot for Jane Fairfax, Elizabeth. I don't think Frank Churchill is good enough for her.

I didn't think of looking in historical fiction, Elizabeth Ann. It just shows that Jane Austen's influence is even wider than I thought!

Amanda said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
J "Joy" Dawn King said...

There are three JAFF authors that had a huge influence on me by kick-starting my habit of reading and writing variations: Jan Hahn, Kara Louise, and Amanda Grange. My favorites are angst-filled, tales of adventure, where we meet a Darcy that is quickly devoted to Elizabeth and to no other. Other authors such as Abigail Reynolds and Sharon Lathan helped to stretch my imagination and appreciate that sequels and prequels have a place on my reading list as well. Whether it is Regency or modern I like my Jane Austen alternate paths to be clean romance filled with passion, not sex. There are so many good authors with great books available.

Monica Fairview said...

Another place to look for Jane Austen sequels on Amazon is under Classics -- romance.

Jane Austen sequels are essentially a genre on their own. There are literally hundreds of them. Some are more literary, some are more popular. There are sequels, variations, spin-offs and Austen-inspired novels. Practically every genre has Jane Austen variations.

I do tend to find Regencies are not quite the same as Jane Austen sequels/variations. Regencies are based more on certain plot devices, while Austenesque fiction is based on characters.

Funnily enough, there is very little crossover in readers. The loyal Austenesque readers rarely reader Regency romance, while the Regency crowd tends to be only vaguely aware of the wealth of Austenesque writings out there.

You would think there would be a huge overlap but readers really don't seem to them as related. Odd, isn't it, given that JA wrote the first Regency romance?

Amanda Grange said...

Thank you, J Dawn, I'm so glad I helped to launch a new pleasure for you - in fact, two new pleasures, as you read and write. Jane Austen had the same effect on me :)
I must look under Classics, Monica, I hadn't thought of that. You make an interesting point about Regencies being based on plot devices and JAFF on characters. I'll have to think about that some more. I agree, it's surprising there isn't more overlap in the readership. Most of my Regency heroes are based on Mr Darcy. They tend to be men of action, which of course Mr Darcy isn't, but they have that standoffish exterior with something much warmer underneath.
I wonder if there will be more crossover in readership now that Kindle Unlimited has come along?