Tag Archives: Jane Austen

Unmarriageable: A Novel Book Review

There is more to adapting a classic novel to the modern era. In theory, transferring the characters, narrative and setting from the original novel to a new novel sounds relatively easy. But the reality is that it is easier said than done.

Soniah Kamal’s new novel Unmarriageable: A Novel, was released last month. Based on Pride and Prejudice, the book is set in Pakistan. Alys and Jena Binat come from a family of five sisters. Both are in their early 30’s and neither are married, much to their mother’s chagrin. In their world, social status, connections and money play a role in where one lands on the social hierarchy. Once upon a time, the Binats were high up on the social hierarchy. But a family squabble has forced the Binats into the middle class.

At a wedding, the Binats are introduced to a pair of young men. Fahad “Bungles” Bengla takes an instant liking to Jena, while his best friend Valentine Darsee is quick to dismiss Alys. In response, she hates on him like her life depends on it. Will these two couples end up together?

I loved this book. It has the spirit of Jane Austen’s masterpiece, but it feels new and exciting. I appreciated that Ms. Kamal did not simply translate Pride and Prejudice from early 19th century England to modern-day Pakistan. She added new layers and expanded the characters in a way that did not feel like an utter destruction of the characters that Austen fans know and love. There is also an Easter egg in regards to Austen’s own life, but I will not tell you where it is in the novel. You will have to find it.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Fanfiction, Jane Austen

Best Books Of 2018

I’ve read quite a few books in 2018. Below is the list of the best books of 2018, at least from my perspective.

  1. Becoming by Michelle Obama: Mrs Obama’s autobiography is insightful, down to earth and one of the best autobiographies that I have read in a long time.
  2. House of Gold by Natasha Solomons: House of Gold was described by another reviewer as a Jewish version of Downton Abbey. I couldn’t think of another description if I made it up myself.
  3. Pride by Ibi Zoboi: A modern-day Pride and Prejudice set in New York City, this Jane Austen adaptation feels old and new at the same time.
  4. We Are Going to Be Lucky A World War II Love Story in Letters by Elizabeth L. Fox: The story of a marriage during World War II told in a series of letter that will make you believe in love.
  5. My Girls: A Lifetime with Carrie and Debbie by Todd Fisher: When Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds departed this world two years ago, no one knew them better than their brother and son. The book is a love letter to them by one of the people who knew and loved them best.
  6. The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah: A young girl growing up in the wilds of Alaska learns some hard truths about life, love and marriage.
  7. American Tantrum: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Archives by Anthony Atamanuik and Neil Casey: Based on the character created by Anthony Atamanuik on The President Show, it is a what if story in regards to the fictional Presidential library of you know who.
  8. Not Out Kind: A Novel by Kitty Zeldis: Just after the end of World War II, two women from vastly different worlds meet in New York City and forever change each other’s lives in the process.
  9. Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy: The Story of Little Women and Why It Still Matters by Anne Boyd Rioux: 150 years after the publication of Little Women, the book still resonates with readers across the globe and across the cultural landscape.
  10. The Other Einstein by Marie Benedict: Behind every genius is a supportive and loving spouse. But what happens when the spouse is denied her own genius because she is a woman?

That’s my list, what are your favorite books of 2018?

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Downton Abbey, Feminism, History, Jane Austen, Movies, New York City, Politics, Pride and Prejudice, Star Wars, Television

Rational Creatures Book Review

When it comes to creating well written fanfiction, a good writer knows how to balance their narrative and their voice with the narrative and voice of the original work.

Christina Boyd’s new Jane Austen inspired anthology, Rational Creatures, was published back in October. Containing 16 new stories from well-respected JAFF (Jane Austen Fanfiction) writers, the focus of the stories of Austen’s female characters. The question that each story asks is if the heroines are the standard romantic heroines or strong, capable women who are able stand on their two feet in spite of the era that they live in?

I’ve been a fan of Ms. Boyd for the last few years, I enjoyed her previous anthologies, The Darcy Monologues and Dangerous to Know: Jane Austen’s Rakes & Gentlemen Rogues. This book is well written and an easy read. I would caution, however, that this book is not for the newbie Jane Austen fan. It requires a level of knowledge that comes with multiple readings of Austen’s work and a deep knowledge of the fictional worlds that she created.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Fanfiction, Jane Eyre, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility

Happy Birthday Jane

On this day, in 1775, a young lady entered this world. The circumstances and the family she was born into did not give any hint as to what she would become as an adult. Her father was a man of the cloth, her mother had successfully brought into the world six previous children and would bring one more into the world after her. In infancy, she was known as Jenny.

Today, we know her as Jane Austen, a literary giant that many have imitated, but few have duplicated. Her six completed novels, Northanger Abbey, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma and Persuasion, are beloved the world over.

On the surface, Austen wrote love stories. But a deeper dive reveals that she was an astute observer of her world. Weaving her observations into her six completed novels, her books were much more than the standard boy meets girl, boy gets girl narrative. She wrote about politics, she was a proto-feminist and she mocked/revealed the inconsistencies that were part of the world she knew.

Most of all, she inspired and continues to inspire female writers not just to write, but to question the inconsistencies of their own worlds.

Wherever you are, dearest Jane, Happy Birthday.

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Filed under Books, Emma, Feminism, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Writing

Emma: The Wild and Wanton Edition Book Review

Sometimes, the deepest loves start out as a friendship.

This is the case of Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley in Jane Austen’s 1815 classic, Emma.

Putting a new spin on Emma, Micah Persell published Emma: The Wild and Wanton Edition in 2013 with the help of Jane Austen.

Emma Woodhouse and George Knightley have known each other their entire lives. They are even related, due to the marriage of his younger brother and her elder sister. Emma is described as handsome, rich and clever in the opening passage of the novel. She is the queen of her world and she thinks that she knows it all at the age of twenty-one. Her newest enterprise is playing matchmaker, an endeavor that may not end as neatly as she predicts it to be. George Knightley is her neighbor and sixteen years her senior. He tries to guide her in the right direction, but Emma rebuffs his guidance.

Neither knows that the other has the hots for each other. Will they get together or will their differing views of the world keep them apart?

I’m going to put it out there, because there is no other way to say it. It’s Emma with sex scenes. The thing to remember about Jane Austen is that she knew how to slip in sexual tension between her romantic leads without being obvious. When it comes to modern writers adding the sex scenes, it has to feel organic, especially when the writer decide to stay in the early 19th century instead of adapting the story in a more modern era. Ms. Persell succeeds at organically adding the sex scenes without causing a major disruption to the narrative. My only criticism is that there were sections of the novel where she could have added additional sex scenes instead of keeping those specific sections as Jane Austen wrote them.

But overall, it’s not only one of the better published fanfictions that I’ve read.

I recommend it.

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Thoughts On The Clueless Reboot

Reboots of 80’s and 90’s classics are the rage these days. Television and movie executives are banking on the nostalgia factor to bring in audiences.

The latest reboot that will soon be coming to the movie theater is Clueless.

While details of the production and casting have not be released, my initial reaction can be explained in one word: why?

Clueless is perfection in a film. Amy Heckerling’s screenplay is quotable, incredibly funny and does not need a reboot. Though Emma (like all Jane Austen novels) can be easily transported to another era and time period, in the wrong hands any Jane Austen reboot can come off as just plain awful and heretical to some Jane Austen fans.

Until we know more about this upcoming reboot, I remain skeptical. I loved Clueless when it premiered in 1995, that love has not died and will probably never die. I just hope that this reboot, whenever it hits theaters, does not destroy the reputation of it’s predecessor.

 

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Filed under Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Movies

Pride Book Review

For over 200 years, the unexpected courtship and hate turned to love relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice has thrilled readers.

Ibi Zoboi is one of the newest writers to update Pride and Prejudice to the modern era. This year, she published Pride, set in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bushwick.

Zuri Benitez has lived in Bushwick her entire life. The second of five daughters of Afro-Caribbean parents, Zuri is proud of her neighborhood, her family and her heritage. But her neighborhood is changing. The Darcys have just moved across the street from Zuri and her family.  They have purchased and renovated what was a rundown building and have two teenage sons. Zuri’s elder sister, Janae starts dating Ainsley Darcy, but Zuri develops an immediate dislike for Darius Darcy. Will they ever get along and find common ground or are they destined to hate each other?

I really and truly enjoyed this book. It still felt like Pride and Prejudice, but felt modern at the same time. Though the book is set in modern-day Bushwick, I could still hear Jane’s voice as a writer. When adapting Pride and Prejudice or any other classic novel for the modern era, some writers are unable to keep of the voice of the original writer while adapting the story and the characters. Ms. Zoboi is able to balance the world of her characters with the narratives and characters that Jane Austen fans know and love.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Jane Austen, New York City, Pride and Prejudice

Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage Book Review

To be related to someone famous is both a blessing and a curse. One on hand, it opens doors. But on the other hand, there is a certain expectation because of one’s famous relation.

Caroline Jane Knight is the fifth great-grandniece of Jane Austen. She is the last descendant of the Austen/Knight family (she is directly descended from Edward Austen Knight, Jane’s brother who was adopted by wealthy and childless cousins)  to reside in Chawton, the Knight family residence for centuries. In her new book, Jane & Me: My Austen Heritage, Caroline writes about what it was like to grow up in the home and the shadow of one of the world’s most respected authors.

Currently residing in Australia, Ms. Knight was not always comfortable with her heritage. But over time, she grew to accept and love that she comes from the Austen family.

I absolutely recommend it.

P.S. I recommend that you purchase the book if you can. For every book that is purchased, a small portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation.

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Thoughts On The 2018 JASNA AGM

*Warning: this post contains slight spoilers about Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion. Read at your own risk if you have not read the books or seen any of the adaptations.

For many Janeites, the highlight of their fall the JASNA AGM. It is an opportunity to spend a weekend with hundreds of other Janeites, immerse themselves in everything that pertains to Jane Austen and forget about the rest of the world for three days.

This year’s AGM was held in Kansas City, Missouri. The theme was Persuasion and the title was 200 Years Of Constancy And Hope.

For many Jane Austen fans, reading Persuasion is a bittersweet experience. We love this novel and its main characters, Anne Elliot, Captain Frederick Wentworth. Unlike her previous novels, there is a mature feel to the work, a what if question when it comes to love, mistakes and second chances. Anne is the oldest of the Austen heroines. She is in her late 20’s while the other heroines are either in their late teens or early 20’s. For his part, Frederick Wentworth is unlike any of Austen’s other heroes. He has had to pull himself up by the figurative bootstraps instead of being born into a wealthy family and automatically inheriting a fortune. He also feels, to me, at least more human than let’s say, Mr. Darcy.

Mr. Darcy is almost like a too good to be true Prince in a fairy tale, a rich man who learns to tame his pride to win the affection/heart of the lower born woman that he loves. Frederick Wentworth is also proud, but he learns to understand Anne’s feelings over the course of the novel. He also realizes that their separation was not simply a one sided separation. His anger kept him from returning to Anne and renewing their relationship at an earlier juncture in their lives.

While every AGM has it moments, there are two of them that made this AGM amazing.

In 1995, a big screen version of Persuasion hit theaters. In the film, Amanda Root played Anne and Ciarian Hinds played Captain Wentworth. Attendees this past weekend were blessed to have Miss Root join us for part of the weekend.

 

She is gracious, warm, down to earth and I think she was a little surprised by the reaction from those in attendance.

There are many who have written about Jane Austen. There are few who can write with warmth, humor and speak to the reader without the academic feel that comes with the subject of Jane Austen. John Mullan is one of those people.

In this crowd, he is a rock star. His book, What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved, is one of my favorite books about Austen and her novels.

And, as usual, the high point of the AGM is the ball on Saturday night. While not everyone dresses up and dance, it’s fun to do so if one wishes.

All in all, it was an amazing AGM and I look forward to next year in Williamsburg, Virginia.

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Filed under Books, Fairy Tales, Jane Austen, Persuasion, Pride and Prejudice

Holidays with Jane: Summer of Love Book Review

One of my favorite aspects when it comes to Jane Austen’s novels is that her stories still ring true to readers in the early 21st century as  much as they did in early 19th century. This has led to the explosion of Jane Austen fanfiction, for better or for worse.

In 2016, Holidays with Jane: Summer of Love, was published. Each of her six completed novels is condensed into modern short stories that are set in and around summertime and summer vacation. I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because I felt like the writers achieved the delicate balance of being true to Jane’s novels while letting the modern version of the characters shine.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Emma, Jane Austen, Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility