As the past is always being reinvented, it should not surprise anyone that there is publishing market niche for reimagining the classics, whether the remake is one from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Brontes, or Shakespeare. My writing career began with a Jane Austen retelling, and although I have branched out to Regency romances, I still regularly write Austen sequels. What appeal do these novels have for a modern reading public?
Truthfully, I cannot speak to the other authors, but Austen’s works maintain their timeliness because the subject matter is universal. They focus on themes that never die: marriage and social pressures. Jane Austen’s stories inspire self-reflection. Despite containing no war, no violence, no political intrigue, and no poverty, Austen’s stories are loaded with witty dialogue, irony, interesting back stories, and an epigrammatic style. In the early 1800s, the novel was written for a female audience. The subject matter was realistic, and the setting was recognizable.
Austen’s works are what are known as “formula fiction.” On the surface, that term sounds boring, but most readers seek out the same genre over and over. If one enjoys mysteries, he will attempt to solve the dilemma before the resolution is revealed. We all know people who exclusively read science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, inspirational, romance, or historical genres. The formula behind Austen’s stories involves a developing relationship between the hero and heroine. The hero is nearly a decade older than the heroine. He is masterful, mysteriously moody, refined, and passionate. The heroine has a profound transformation. Representing rational love, she is a woman of sense.
So, what do all these facts say for the Austen sequel? First, they say that little has changed in regards to a socially mobile culture. People are still trying to find their places in the world. They also say that Jane Austen’s analysis of the vicissitudes of class is timely. They speak of the appeal of the Byronic hero. They say there is a distinction between simple and complex personalities.
Small, perfect life stories are as compelling as those loaded with action scenes. The canon and its past are complemented by contemporary culture. In Ian Watt’s Rise of the Novel, the author says, “She [Austen] was able to combine into a harmonious unity the advantages both of realism of presentation and realism of assessment, of the internal and external approaches to character; her novels have authenticity without diffuseness or trickery, wisdom of social comment without a garrulous essayist, and a sense of the social order which is not achieve at the expense of the individuality and autonomy of the characters.”
Biting humor and delving insight pepper Austen’s works, and her romance enchants us. There is an undeniable potential for our species as long as love is an important part of our society.
Jane Austen was an expert in plot-driven fiction–a story line or turning point that branches out like the head of a broccoli. Her subject was common, ordinary, middling life, and she rendered it in minute detail. Her works are concerned with the 3 P’s + M: patriotism, paternalism, pastoralism, and the moral responsibility of the individual.
Many readers are under the mistaken impression that Jane Austen wrote character-driven works. Yet, characters are not really what drives Austen’s works. Jane Austen’s work is theme-driven. She wrote thematic masterpieces. Nuance upon nuance of a single idea is built around a central truism–very much like peeling away the layers of an onion. Theme permeates whatever it touches. Austen is not just clever with theme; she is a master.
Critics of these remakes refer to the phenomenon as “nostalgia.” But I beg to question for what are we nostalgic? The answer lies hidden beneath our contemporary need to view the world through a narrow lens–one buried in the past.
So, if you are looking for Austen-inspired literature, please join 19 of my closest friends and me at http://austenauthor.net. We’ll provide you with a ton of ideas. I have seven Austen sequels to my credit: Darcy’s Passions; Darcy’s Temptation; The Phantom of Pemberley; Vampire Darcy’s Desire; Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion; Christmas at Pemberley, and The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. I will release another Austen cozy mystery in Spring 2013.
Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.
Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.
How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.
Website – www.rjeffers.com
Twitter – @reginajeffers
Publisher – Ulysses Press http://ulyssespress.com/