Gentle Readers, please do not be fooled! Neatly tucked into this slim volume are nine short stories entitled “Intimations of Austen”, and not “Imitations of Austen”, which on first glance at the thin and fluid type face on the cover stopped me cold! To imitate Jane Austen would be only a forgery! I am happy to report that the stories in no way attempt imitation and set off no decorum alarms from this sector.
Instead, debut author Jane Greensmith has given us nine little jewels “inspired” by Jane Austen that if given a chance will surprise and delight the reader with new ways to look at bits of plot or characters from the original novels. This is not imitation. It is pure creativity offered with a light and satirical touch sweeping this reader from laughter to tears within a few short paragraphs. Who could not be moved to read of the last days of elderly Admiral Wentworth in the story Rainbow around the Moon, intrigued into sleuthing out the identities of the Elliot sisters from Persuasion or are they the Ward sisters from Mansfield Park in Three Sisters, or in Heaven Can Wait learn the identity of the young gentleman who wrote pretty little verses to Jane Bennet when she was but fifteen in Pride and Prejudice? Each story is a brief glimpse into a “side bar” or “what if” story that can be easily read within a short time. The exception, and rightly so, is All I Do, which is by far my favorite deserving expansion into a full novel. Here we are offered a “what if” story that changes the ending of Pride and Prejudice separating Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy. It is impossible to divulge much more of her stories than my brief descriptions reveal. Half of their charm lies in the mystery and investigation of hidden meanings for Janeites and offering more would spoil the delight of discovery.
Intimations of Austen may be a slim volume at 114 pages, but it is packed with engaging stories respectfully portraying Austen’s characters, expanding her plots, adding creative twists and bends, and blending other classic literature favorites. Greensmith’s style is beautifully spare. Like Austen each word has been carefully chosen to balance each sentence. This volume is slim because of her skill at brevity, not by lack of imagination. These “Intimations” and not “Imitations” are the sincerest form of flattery to Austen and as far from forgery as any author would wish to comfortably rest. Highly recommended, this is a quick read for Austen fans who will be eagerly awaiting an encore.
4 out of 5 Regency stars
Intimations of Austen, by Jane Greensmith
Trade paperback (114) pages