Amelia Webster: A Novel After Jane Austen, by Robert Rodi—A Review

Ameila Webster A Novel After Jane Austen by Robert Rodi 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:  

Long before Jane Austen was widely known for her six complete novels, she was a youthful storyteller who wrote humorous tales for the amusement of her family and friends. In more recent years, Austen’s juvenilia has been put in the spotlight and given the adaptation treatment that was previously only bestowed on her most famous works. Indeed, this year’s Jane Austen Society of North America Annual General Meeting focused on Austen’s earliest stories. Robert Rodi—author of this latest juvenilia variation—was a plenary speaker at the JASNA AGM and discussed how Austen’s writing had evolved from pure farce to social satire and finally to the irony of her mature novels.

The original Amelia Webster epistolary short story by Jane Austen—introduced by the young author as “an interesting & well-written Tale”—was comprised of only 454 words in seven brief letters, and yet masterfully presented eight protagonists and a fairly complete storyline. In a most amusing fashion, Robert Rodi has crafted a sardonic wink of a novel out of Austen’s juvenile attempt in the upcoming Amelia Webster: A Novel After Jane Austen.

Welcome to the tiny village of Rovedon in Hertfordshire, where the gossips make sport of predicting the nuptial pairings in the extremely limited number of local youth. Our narrator begins with the introduction of Tom Pierce and Jack Fitzmark, two gentlemen who “took up residence together at two-and-thirty, thus making it apparent that they would marry no one at all.” (4) Tom and Jack, no longer the subjects of matrimonial speculation themselves, carry on with their own thoughtful conjectures about the eventual wedded bliss of the remaining young people. Continue reading

Jane in Love: A Novel, by Rachel Givney—A Review

Jane in Love by Rachel Givney 2020From the desk of Sophia Rose:

Australian filmmaker, and debut writer, Rachel Givney brings us a whimsical time travel romantic adventure for none other than Jane Austen herself with her new novel, Jane in Love.  What does the twenty-first century have to teach this well-loved author? Equally important, what does Miss Jane have to teach her counterpart in the twenty-first century?

Jane is twenty-eight and living with her aging parents in Bath. Her writing isn’t good enough to get published and her mother threatens to burn any further attempts. Mrs. Austen insists Jane focus on the serious business of finding a husband. Jane doesn’t find this objectionable, but is it too much to ask that the gentleman accept her the way she is and that she finds love? One more opportunity and yet one more disappointment force Jane to take the desperate step of trusting in an odd and mystical matchmaker who sends her two hundred years into the future to find what she’s looking for.

Sofia Wentworth is an A-List actress and has made millions fall in love with her. That is until recently when her own husband wants a divorce, and she can’t get a leading role. She is determined to get back her career, but more importantly, renew what they had together with Jack by taking a role in his new period film, Northanger Abbey. She encounters one of the extras who is crazy and thinks she’s the real Jane Austen, but the startling bit is that she just may be the real deal and something odd is happening as Jane meets Sofia’s brother Fred who plays a minor role in the film. Jane and Fred get over their early antagonism and are there to help Sofia with her plans. Sofia helps Jane as she must decide where she really belongs and what she really wants. Continue reading

Being Mrs Darcy, by Lucy Marin—A Review

Being Mrs Darcy, by Lucy Marin 2020From the desk of Katie Jackson:  

In Regency-era novels, which are popular for their promotion of proper behavior and swoon-worthy romantic declarations, forced-marriage tropes spice up the angst and the inevitable, slow-burn romances that result. It is satisfying to read of gentlemen doing the right thing, marrying not for love but as their duty to protect a lady’s reputation, and it is equally satisfying to observe the couple’s meandering journey to an ultimate love match. As a Pride & Prejudice enthusiast, my curiosity was piqued when I discovered this forced-marriage situation between two beloved characters, in a location only referred to in hindsight in the original story. Pride and Prejudice variations are like choose-your-own-adventure stories that take readers through various what-if scenarios, making them ponder how a single decision might entirely change the destiny of their characters. Debut author Lucy Marin reveals an unusually bleak beginning for Miss Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy in her Pride & Prejudice variation, Being Mrs Darcy.

This variation’s prologue opens on the August morning of Elizabeth’s forced marriage to Darcy, as they are traveling from Hertfordshire to London with his sister, Georgiana, and cousin, Sterling. Darcy is brooding, and “Elizabeth’s sense of dread grew with each successive mile they travelled.” (Kindle location 25) The situation worsens when they arrive at Darcy House. “Only the housekeeper and butler greeted them, and Elizabeth tried not to feel the slight; the entire household should be there to meet their new mistress.” (Kindle location 37) Darcy himself merely goes through the motions of his duties, dining with her and spending a short time in her company afterward, although almost entirely in silence. Elizabeth knew “he was unhappy about the marriage and despised her, as he had shown repeatedly in the six weeks of their acquaintance.” (Kindle location 58) She ends her wedding day in hopeless tears, haunted by her single fateful decision on a July night in Ramsgate that marked the point of no return. Continue reading