Jane Austen Made Me Do It : Original Stories Inspired by Literature's Most Astute Observer of the Human Heart
Stories by: Lauren Willig * Adriana Trigiani * Jo Beverley * Alexandra Potter *Laurie Viera Rigler *Frank Delaney & Diane Meier *Syrie James *Stephanie Barron*Amanda Grange*Pamela Aidan*Elizabeth Aston*Carrie Bebris * Diana Birchall* Monica Fairview *Janet Mullany*Jane Odiwe *Beth Pattillo *Myretta Robens *Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway* Maya Slater*Margaret C. Sullivan*and Brenna Aubrey, the winner of a story contest hosted by the Republic of Pemberley
"My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you." If you just heaved a contented sigh at Mr. Darcy's heartfelt words, then you, dear reader, are in good company. Here is a delightful collection of never-before-published stories inspired by Jane Austen--her novels, her life, her wit, her world.
In Lauren Willig's "A Night at Northanger," a young woman who doesn't believe in ghosts meets a familiar specter at the infamous abbey; Jane Odiwe's "Waiting" captures the exquisite uncertainty of Persuasion's Wentworth and Anne as they await her family's approval of their betrothal; Adriana Trigiani's "Love and Best Wishes, Aunt Jane" imagines a modern-day Austen giving her niece advice upon her engagement; in Diana Birchall's "Jane Austen's Cat," our beloved Jane tells her nieces "cat tales" based on her novels; Laurie Viera Rigler's "Intolerable Stupidity" finds Mr. Darcy bringing charges against all the writers of Pride and Prejudice sequels, spin-offs, and retellings; in Janet Mullany's "Jane Austen, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!" a teacher at an all-girls school invokes the Beatles to help her students understand Sense and Sensibility; and in Jo Beverley's "Jane and the Mistletoe Kiss," a widow doesn't believe she'll have a second chance at love . . . until a Miss Austen suggests otherwise.
Regency or contemporary, romantic or fantastical, each of these marvelous stories reaffirms the incomparable influence of one of history's most cherished authors.
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October 11, 2011
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Excerpt from Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress
JANE AUSTEN'S NIGHTMARE
Chawton, Wednesday 2 August 1815
An extraordinary adventure which I only just experienced proved to be so vivid and distressing-and yet ultimately so illuminating-that I feel I must record it in its entirety.
It was a gloomy, grey, frigid afternoon, and I found myself traversing a strangely quiet and deserted street in Bath. (Bath! It is indeed the most tiresome place in the world, a visit there surely akin to a descent into Hades.) A low fog hung in the air, dampening the pavements and obscuring the heights of the long rows of limestone townhouses on either side of me.
I wondered how I had come to be there, and why I was alone. Should I not be snug at home at Chawton Cottage? Where were all the residents of Bath-a city generally so filled with crowds, noise, and confusion? Where did I get the (very smart) pale blue muslin gown in which I was attired, and the grey wool cloak with its beautiful lace collar, both too handsome to be seen much less worn? As I shivered and wrapped my cloak more tightly about me, I observed a pretty young woman of about seventeen years of age emerge from the fog and venture in my direction. I could not prevent a little start of surprise, for the newcomer looked exactly like Marianne Dashwood-at least the Marianne that I had envisioned while writing Sense and Sensibility.
How wonderful it was, I thought, that a real-life woman and a complete stranger should so closely resemble the character whom I had created entirely in my mind! I was about to politely avert my gaze when, of a sudden, the young woman's eyes widened and she marched determinedly up to me.
"Miss Jane Austen, is it not?" exclaimed she, stopping directly before me.
"Yes," replied I, uncertain how it was possible that this young woman should be acquainted with me.
"Surely you recognise me!" persisted she in an impassioned tone.
"Should I? I am very sorry. I do not believe we have ever met."
"Of course we have! You created me. I am Marianne."
I was at a loss for words. Had I imbibed too much wine at dinner? Was this exchange simply another one of my imaginative flights of fancy? Or could it be that, by some remarkable twist of fate, it was truly occurring? Whatever the cause, I did not wish to appear rude. "Of course," said I, smiling as I extended my hand to her, "I did think you looked familiar. How lovely to make your acquaintance in person at last. How have you been?"
"Not well. Not well at all!" cried she with a vigorous shake of her curls as she ignored my proffered hand. "I have wanted to converse with you for such a long time, I am grateful to at last have the opportunity." Her eyes flashed as she demanded, "What could you have been thinking, Jane-I may call you Jane, may I not?-when you wrote all that about me?"
"When I wrote what?" responded I uncertainly.
"In every scene throughout that entire, horrid novel," answered Marianne, "you presented me as the most selfish and 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 not you have given me even one scene where I might have behaved with equanimity?"
This verbal assault, so entirely unexpected and delivered with such depth of emotion, took me utterly aback. "I-I was simply attempting to make you different from your sister," explained I, my voice faltering, "to portray two opposite temperaments."
"By my example then, do you mean to imply that having passionate feelings is a great evil?" cried Marianne.
"No-not at all. My aim was to illustrate the injurious nature of wallowing in excessive emotion and the importance of self-restraint."
"If that is so, was it truly necessary to enforce such suffering upon me to get across your point? You made me look ridiculous and pathetic! You humiliated me at a party! You nearly had me die-literally die! And the most cruel offence of all, Jane: you broke my heart. You had me fall madly, passionately in love with a man who was akin to my second self, and then you deliberately and remorselessly snatched him away!" Marianne choked back a sob as she dabbed at her eyes with a handkerchief from her reticule. "All the other heroines in every one of your novels end up with the man they love, except me. You married me off to a man nearly twice my age! How could you do it?"