The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in May, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.
Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired)
What Would Jane Austen Do? by, Laurie Brown
Are you ready for an historical romance laced with Jane Austen’s influence for your light and fun summer reading? In this time travel fantasy, take a trip back to Regency England as the heroine attempts to alter the past and thwart a deadly duel. Publisher’s description: Eleanor is a costume designer in England for the Jane Austen festival, where her room at the inn is haunted. In the middle of the night she encounters two ghost sisters whose brother was killed in a duel over 200 years ago. They persuade her to travel back in time with them to prevent the duel. Eleanor is swept into a country house party, presided over by the charming Lord Shermont, where she encounters and befriends Jane Austen. But there’s much more to Lord Shermont than the ghosts knew, and as Eleanor dances and flirts with him, she begins to lose her heart. Sourcebooks Casablanca, ISBN: 978-1402218316
Cousin Kate, by Georgette Heyer
Sourcebook’s continues on its quest to reissue all of Georgette Heyer’s classic novels with Cousin Kate, originally published in 1968. This novel is one of only two Heyer Gothic Regency romances, and is sure to be a treat for historical romance and Gothic novel readers. Publisher’s description: Kate, in dire circumstances, is surprised to receive an invitation to live with a distant aunt. Her aunt, uncle, and cousin welcome her to their estate, buy her new clothes, and provide all the amenities a Young lady of quality should have. Slowly, however, as strange events unfold, Kate begins to realize that her aunt’s apparent benevolence hides an ulterior motive. To assure succession of the title, her aunt intends Kate to marry her cousin Torquil, until his increasingly bizarre behavior culminates in violence and tragedy. A compelling tale exploring mental illness in the Regency period. Sourcebooks Casablanca, ISBN: 978-1402217685
Corinne, or Italy (Oxford World’s Classics), by Madame de Stael
Anne Louise Germaine de Staël-Holstein (1766 – 1817), commonly known as Madame de Staël, was a Swiss author living in Paris whose writings strongly influenced literary tastes in Europe at the turn of the 19th century. She was highly praised by her male contemporaries during her lifetime and credited as the foundress of the Romantic Movement. Corinne, or Italy was published at the height of her writing skills in 1807 and considered her greatest achievement.
Madame de Stael may have been a renowned authoress, but her notorious reputation preceded her when she arrived in London in 1813. Jane Austen passed up the opportunity to meet her that year when she was visiting her brother Henry in London. Nineteen years later he would explain her rejection of the invitation, “To her truly delicate mind such a display would have given pain instead of pleasure.” Madame de Stael may have privately thought Pride and Prejudice “vulgaire,” but in my estimation she redeemed herself by acquiring a copy of Mansfield Park for her home library at Coppet, Switzerland.
Publisher’s description: Corinne, or Italy, is both the story of a love affair between Oswald, Lord Nelvil, and a beautiful poetess, and an homage to the landscape, literature and art of Italy. Stael, the subject of recent feminist rediscovery, weaves discreet political allusion into her romance, and upon its publication Napoleon renewed her order of exile. Sylvia Raphel’s new translation preserves the natural character of the French original, while the notes and introduction place this extraordinary work of European Romanticism in its historical and political context. Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0199554607
The Romance of the Forest (Oxford World’s Classics), by Ann Radcliffe
Author Ann Radcliffe (1764-1823) may be best known to Janeites for heroine Catherine Morland’s fascination with her Gothic novel The Mysteries of Udolpho in Northanger Abbey, but another Austen character also admired her horrid novels! When Harriet Smith in Emma suggests The Romance of Forest to her beau Robert Martin, the simple tenant farmer is more inclined to read Agricultural Reports than Gothic novels, and his hesitation gives fuel for Emma Woodhouse to discredit him as a proper suitor to her little friend Harriet. Don’t delay like Robert Martin! If you have not ventured into Gothic fiction before, this is an excellent choice, full of ruined abbey’s, skeletons and mystery. Publisher’s description: The Romance of the Forest (1791) heralded an enormous surge in the popularity of Gothic novels, in a decade that included Ann Radcliffe’s later works, The Mysteries of Udolpho and The Italian. Set in Roman Catholic Europe of violent passions and extreme oppression, the novel follows the fate of its heroine Adeline, who is mysteriously placed under the protection of a family fleeing Paris for debt. They take refuge in a ruined abbey in south-eastern France, where sinister relics of the past – a skeleton, a manuscript, and a rusty dagger – are discovered in concealed rooms. Adeline finds herself at the mercy of the abbey’s proprietor, a libidinous Marquis whose attentions finally force her to contemplate escape to distant regions. Rich in allusions to aesthetic theory and to travel literature, The Romance of the Forest is also concerned with current philosophical debate and examines systems of thought central to the intellectual life of late eighteenth-century Europe. Oxford University Press, ISBN: 978-0199539222
Until next month, happy reading!