There was a time in my younger years where I was obsessed with Jane Austen. I watched the TV adaptations on Masterpiece Theatre every Sunday night and I owned all her books (I still do). It's also thanks to her stories and people's interest in her characters that I got to know other authors like Elizabeth Gaskell (i.e. my favorite Victorian era writer of all time).
So why am I talking about this when Jane Austen has been talked about enough already? Last year an interesting thing happened. The Jane Austen Project was started. This is where some cool currently alive authors would take her six novels and reimagine them for today. Isn't that nifty?
So far two have been released starting with Joanna Trollope's Sense and Sensibility and most recently with Val McDermid's Northanger Abbey. A newer version of Pride and Prejudice, which will be written by Curtis Sittenfeld, is expected sometime this fall.
Sense and Sensibility by Joanna Trollope: With the death of their father, Elinor, Marianne and Margaret Dashwood are left to fend for themselves in an unforgiving world. Without the comforts of their old home or the protection of their father, the three Dashwood sisters are thrust into a new reality full of changeable people and painful truths.
I ordered it from the library two weeks ago and it only now just got put on the hold shelf for me. I'm going to go pick it up today and dig into it tonight. Sense and Sensibility is not one of my favorite Austen novels so let's see how this reading goes. I will review it soon!
Northanger Abbey by Val McDermid: Cat Morland is ready for an adventure. After being sheltered by her minister father for much of her life, Cat is only too happy to accept an invitation to a festival in Edinburgh from her neighbors the Allens. There, she becomes fast friends with Henry and Eleanor Tilney but she soon gets the feeling that the Tilney's have secrets. Is Cat right about her friends or has her years of reading novels just given her a wild imagination?
I am so excited to read this one and I already have a hold on it at the library. Not only is this my most favorite Austen novel, but I have also loved Val McDermid since my teens when I read her Tony Hill series and watched the TV adaptation of it called Wire in the Blood. First few seasons of that show were very good but after Carol left, it wasn't as great. It felt a bit unbalanced...but that is another topic for another day.
A lot of reviews I have seen are full of people offended that anyone would deign to reimagine a Jane Austen classic. I'm more optimistic and open to new and creative ventures. If I wasn't, I would have missed out on some really joy filled things like the mini-series Lost in Austen. So do give them a chance.