Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jane Austen Made Me Do It Edited by Laurel Ann Nattress

Jane Austen Made Me Do It is a delightful collection of short stories inspired by Jane Austen, edited by Laurel Ann Nattress author of one of my favorite blogs, Austenprose. The collection is authored by many of my favorite Austenesque authors including Monica Fairview, Stephanie Barron, Syrie James, Amanda Grange, Beth Patillo, Jane Odiwe, Carrie Bebris, Jane Rubino, Caitlen Rubino-Bradway and many others. Also included were a couple authors that I enjoy, but hadn’t considered Austenesque – including Diane Meier and Adriana Trigiani.

I am a big fan of short stories in general. I love this form of fiction and actually miss reading short stories in English and literature courses. I have been rereading some of my favorites recently for The Classics Circuit. I feel that the short story is often a powerful vehicle to focus on ideas that can be lost in a longer story.

Jane Austen Made Me Do It is the perfect combination of my favorite genre, authors, and form of fiction. I read and enjoyed the entire book. I looked forward to each evening (and lunch time) when I could sit down and see what new adventure was in store. I thought each story was excellent with not a bad one in the bunch. I always LOVED the diversity of the story. They covered all of Austen’s novels and Austen’s life, were set in modern day or in the 19th century, were continuations or focuses on different characters, or entirely new works of fiction. Truthfully I love Pride and Prejudice, but I loved to see Austen’s other masterpieces celebrated.

I think the best way for me to give credit to all of these wonderful stories is for me to give a brief two-second review/summary of each story. Here goes . . .

Introduction – I loved the introduction and learning the history of Laurel Ann’s love affair with Austen. It was interesting and very relatable! It was also inspiring to see how she took her passion and her blog to new levels at being able to put an entire book together. I think this is every book blogger’s dream come true.

Jane Austen’s Nightmare by Syrie James – I loved this story. Jane Austen is having a nightmare where she is in hated Bath being accosted by her creations. She is inspired by her dream to create her final masterpiece

I especially loved Marianne’s speech, “ In every scene throughout the entire, horrid novel, you presented me as the most selfish and most self-involved creature on the face of the earth. I was always waxing rhapsodic about poetry or dead leaves, harshly critiquing somebody or something, or crying my eyes out in the depths of despair! Could you not have given me even one scene where I might have behaved with equanimity?”

Waiting by Jane Odiwe – Captain Wentworth is talking to Sir Walter Elliot about seeing Anne’s hand in marriage. Anne is waiting and reflecting on when she first met Captain Wentworth eight years before and became engaged. I thought this story was perfect. It seemed like it could have been an extra chapter at the end of Persuasion. Persuasion is tied with Pride and Prejudice as my favorite Austen novel and I love reading more about my favorite characters.

A Night at Northanger by Lauren Willig – Cate works on the show Ghost Trekkers, where she helps keep up the charade that the crew is finding scary ghosts at various locations around England. Ghost Trekkers is visiting Northanger Abbey, where unexpectedly, Cate finds herself discovering real ghosts . . . a delightful story and very seasonal at this time of year.

Jane and the Gentleman Rogue by Stephanie Barron – This is a short story Jane Austen Mystery. I love Barron’s Jane Austen Mysteries and really need to catch up with the series (why didn’t I join the challenge this year)? This mystery involves Lord Harold, my favorite Austen love, fighting a duel. Very intriguing and romantic.

Faux Jane by F.J. Meier – F.J. Meier is the pseudonym for the husband and wife writing team, Frank Delaney and Diane Meier. Meier’s A Season of Second Chances was in my top ten favorite books of 2010. Faux Jane introduces a delightful couple, Charles and Nora. They help to uncover a mystery involving a fake signed first edition copy of Pride and Prejudice. I want to read more about Charles and Nora; they reminded me of Nick and Nora Charles from The Think Man movies. With their names, I wonder if that was intentional . . . They were a fun, quirky couple in this story.

Nothing Less Than Fairy-Land by Monica Fairview – This was one of my favorite stories in the collection. Monica Fairview is my favorite Austenesque author with her novel, The Other Mr. Darcy my favorite of this genre. In this story, Fairview writes about what happens after Emma and Mr. Knightley’s honeymoon when they return home and move in with Mr. Woodhouse. Fairview captured each character perfectly and really made me think about how moving in with her crabby old father-in-law right after your honeymoon might not be anyone’s dream come true. A true gem of a story.

Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane by Adriana Trigiani – Trigiani writes as letter as a modern day Jane Austen to her niece Anna upon her engagement to Declan. A great celebration of letter writing and the wit of Austen.

Jane Austen and the Mistletoe Kiss by Jo Beverley – I need to check out Beverley’s novels, I really enjoyed this story. I have a soft spot in my heart for regency Christmas stories and novels and what could be better than one set in Chawton with an appearance by Jane Austen herself? Elinor Carsholt is a young widow with young daughters celebrating her first Christmas without her husband. After her husband’s untimely death, she found herself in straightened circumstances. Fortunately her neighbor, Sir Nicolas has helped to create a magical Christmas for the family.

When Only a Darcy Will Do by Beth Patillo – This story was another of my favorites (I had a lot in this book – as I said, they were all good stories!). Elizabeth is studying in London, but is low on funds. To help supplement her income, she dresses in regency garb and holds Jane Austen tours of London. Unfortunately, she does not get much business until one day a man dressed as Mr. Darcy shows up for the tour. A great unique story and oh-so romantic!

Heard of You by Margaret C. Sullivan – Another fantastic story about Persuasion. Captain Wentworth tells his new bride Anne the story of how Admiral Croft and his sister Sophie became a couple. This story also read like it could have been an additional chapter of Persuasion. It was a wonderful story and I loved learning the background of these characters.

The Ghostwriter by Elizabeth Aston – The Ghostwriter is another great story for the season. Sara’s boyfriend Charles has left her leaving her a gift of a locket that once belonged to Jane Austen. The ghost of Austen shows up because of the locket and gives Sara advice on writing and love. I loved the ending!

Mr. Bennet Meets His Match by Amanda Grange – I love Grange’s “Diary” series about Austen’s novels as seen through the eyes of the various heroes. In this story, Grange gives the back-story of how Mr. and Mrs. Bennet first became a couple. Another perfect story, I especially loved when the Collins family came for a visit.

I loved this quote from this story, “She had not provided him with a son and heir, but she had provided him with a handsome number of daughters and she had unwittingly provided him with a great deal of entertainment as well.”

Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah! By Janet Mullany – This excellent story is a unique one in which an English teacher (Julie Morton) in 1964 England teaches some of her pupils how to love Sense and Sensibility using their love of the Beatles. I enjoyed it!

Letters to Lydia by Maya Slater – This story had a great premise and I really enjoyed it. It is a series of letters written by Maria Lucas to Lydia. It becomes obvious that Maria had much more to do with the events of Pride and Prejudice than one knew. It all makes perfect sense and was a new way for me to think about P&P.

The Mysterious Closet: A Tale by Myretta Robens – Cathy Fullerton is staying at a gothic abbey in a mysterious and creepy suite where she meets a ghost by the name of Henry. Or is he a ghost? Another great tale for the season.

Jane Austen’s Cat by Diana Birchall – Jane Austen is visiting with her nieces Anna and Caroline and tells them great stories involving her characters and life . . . if they were cats. A touching story.

Me and Mr. Darcy, Again by Alexandra Potter – A great continuation of Me and Mr. Darcy. Emily is having problems with her boyfriend Spike, but is helped along the path of love by Mr. Darcy.

What Would Austen Do? by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway – Another one of my favorite stories. Austen is a 14-year old boy who learns how to “country dance” and a bit about love over his summer. A superb story. I was excited to read that they are developing it into a full length novel. I want to read it!

The Riding Habit by Pamela Aidan – Mr. Darcy wants to teach Elizabeth how to ride, but they encounter problems along the way. Another great story.

The Love Letter by Brenna Aubrey – I can see why this story won the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest. It was another one of my favorites. Dr. Mark Hinton receives a mysterious page from a book in the mail, and discovers it is from Austen’s novel Persuasion. He learns more about the novel and also meets his old love Justine again.

The Chase by Carrie Bebris – This was another exceptional story about Jane Austen’s brother Frank and his adventures in the royal navy. I am ready to read a book about Frank now!

Intolerable Stupidity by Laurie Viera Rigler– Austenesque authors are on trial for making the Darcys lives intolerable with Lady Catherine serving as judge.

A great mix of stories overall! To learn how Laurel Ann Nattress put the collection together, stop by this Saturday October 22nd for a guest blog and a chance to win a copy of the Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Book Source: Review Copy sent by Laurel Ann Nattress and Random House. Thank-you!


  1. I really enjoyed this book too. I really liked how you gave a brief summary of each story in your review. It makes me want to go back and read some of my favorite ones!

  2. Wow, this sounds like a really fun read! I don't often read the short story genre but this one I would definitely read. And your review is wonderful. Gave me a taste of all the goodies in this book.

  3. Wow! This must be a wonderful book, Laura. Many of these ideas are quite humorous. Terrific presentation of the book! I look forward to the guest post and giveaway.

  4. I agree with you about a lot of these stories; I especially loved "Letters to Lydia" and its new twist on the backstory of P&P.

  5. What Would Austen Do? (the main character is a teenager name James Austen) was far and away my favorite. Made me laugh so hard i scared my cats!
    I also liked the 'prequels - Heard of You and Mr Bennet Met His Match. Interesting take on how two very different couples got together!
    Sylvie from Philly

  6. There seems to be a lot of love for this book, and it is well deserved. I also loved the story What Would Austen Do? It was one of my favorite in the book. I'm excited there is going to be an entire novel based on James Austen - he was a great character.

    I have a typo in my review and blogger has not let me fix it all day. It should say, "I also LOVED the diversity of the stories." I'm annoyed I can't fix it!

  7. Blogger is really annoying me. I've been trying to correct a couple of typos (such as "Thin Man" instead of "Think Man") and it will not let me update this post at all. So bear with me and my typos . . . I hate typos, but there seems to be nothing I can do about it!

  8. I will be starting this book over the weekend and I can't wait! Glad to see you enjoyed it.