Austenesque, Book Reviews, Jane Austen Sequels Book Reviews

Intimations of Austen, by Jane Greensmith – A Review

Cover of Intimations of Jane Austen, by Jane Greensmith (2008)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
Lulu.com (2008)
978-1435718890

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Austenesque, Jane Austen Book Sleuth

Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for January 2009

Frederica Heyer by Georgette Heyer, Sourcebooks (2009)The Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Austen inspired books are heading our way in January, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. 

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired) 

Frederica, by Georgette Heyer. Accolades to Sourcebooks for taking up the banner and reissuing thirteen Georgette Heyer novels to date and more scheduled in the queue for 2009! My co-blogger Vic (Ms. Place) at Jane Austen Today has religiously read each one as they have been released and you can catch up on the reviews at her blog Jane Austen’s World. I have yet to venture into Heyer territory, so am pea green with envy. This month, we are presented with Frederica which was one of Heyer’s later romance novels originally published in 1965. (publisher’s description) In Frederica, Georgette Heyer explores the difficulties of a woman of the Regency era operating without the patronage and protection of a man. A country beauty and a very capable young woman, Frederica is burdened with the responsibilities of being head of her family, leaving her little time to think of herself and her own future. When she brings her brood to London to find a husband for her stunningly beautiful younger sister, she naturally expects the patronage of their guardian, the Marquis of Alverstoke, who is, however, too bored and cynical to be bothered. But when Frederica’s younger brother’s obsession with such scientific innovations as ironworks and balloon flight leads to a devastating accident, the Marquis can no longer ignore his charges. You can read about all of the Heyer titles in print at the Sourcebooks website. Sourcebooks Casablanca ISBN: 978-1402214769 

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O'Rourke (2009)The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke. In this reissue of her 2006 novel, O’Rourke sends her contemporary heroine Eliza Knight on an investigation to discover if the letters she found in an old vanity table addressed to ‘Dearest Jane’ from ‘F. Darcy’ are indeed the Regency era novelist and her most famous character Fitzwilliam Darcy. The trail leads her to a majestic, 200-year old estate in Virginia’s breathtaking Shenandoah Valley and into the arms of man who may hold the answer to this extraordinary mystery. Kensington ISBN:  978-0758210388 

Imitations of Jane Austen, by Jane Greensmith (2008)Intimations of Austen, by Jane Greensmith. (publisher’s description) A collection of nine short stories including back stories, sequels and what-ifs to Jane Austen’s beloved novels. Greensmith provides sympathetic insights into characters you love to hate. Her what-if stories are realistic, true to Austen’s characters, and delightful to sink your teeth into. And always, Greensmith, Romantic that she is, calls forth the power and beauty of the natural world to heal, bless, and nurture the wounded, the misunderstood, the lonely, and the confused on their journeys through life. Visit the author’s blog Reading, Writing, Working, Playing for her insights on fiction, writing and Jane Austen. I missed this one in my December announcement, but it is well worth a mention. Lulu.com, ISBN: 978-1435718890 

Nonfiction 

Jane Austen and Mozart (2009)Jane Austen and Mozart: Classical Equilibrium in Fiction and Music, by Robert K. Wallace. Originally published in 1983, this reissue by the same publisher aims to give a detailed comparative analysis of the intriguing similarities between Jane Austen’s (1775-1817) writing and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart’s (1756-1791) music. This scholarly treatise will interest students and scholars who appreciate Austen’s classical vs. romantic style and Mozart’s restraint vs. freedom that defined both of their works. (note to publisher: pink covers do not equate chic lit sales) University of Georgia Press ISBN: 978-0820333915 

Cinematic Jane Austen (2009)Cinematic Jane Austen: Essays on the Filmic Sensibility of the Novels, by David Monaghan, Adriane Hudelet and John Wiltshire. Three professors contribute their academic insights on how Austen has been successfully transferred to the screen. (publisher’s description) The novels of Jane Austen are typified by their comedic power, often most powerfully demonstrated by the singular voice of their narrators. Yet what makes them arresting novels can also produce a less than satisfactory transformation to the world of cinema, where the voice of a narrator often becomes obtrusive. This work argues that despite the difficulties in adapting Austen’s writing for the screen, there have been many successes. Each author examines Austen’s texts for their inherent cinematic features, analyzing the use of these features in film versions of the novels. (note to publisher: pink covers do not equate chic lit sales) McFarland & Company ISBN: 978-0786435067 

A Companion to Jane Austen, editor Claudia L. Johnson (2009)A Companion to Jane Austen (Blackwell Companions to Literature and Culture), edited by Claudia L. Johnson & Clara Tuite. Professor Claudia L. Johnson of Princeton University may very well be Jane Austen’s finest advocate with her many scholarly works in print, lectures and academic presence worldwide. Her latest ambitious work includes editing and contributing to this volume that includes 42 essays by leading scholars serving as a reference and speculative development in Austen scholarship. Way over this Janeites head, but headed to an academic library bookshelf near you. Blackwell Publishers ISBN: 978-1405149099 

Austens Emma (2009)Austen’s Emma (Reader’s Guides), by Gregg A. Hecimovich. Clueless about Emma? This new student guide could be your best friend while reading the novel. (publisher’s description) This is a student-friendly guide featuring discussion points, questions, suggestions for further study and a comprehensive guide to further reading. Emma is one of Jane Austen’s most popular novels, in large part due to the impact of Emma Woodhouse, the ‘handsome, clever and rich’ heroine. This lively, informed and insightful guide to Emma explores the style, structure, themes, critical reputation and literary influence of Jane Austen’s classic novel and also discusses its film and TV versions. It includes points for discussion, suggestions for further study and an annotated guide to relevant reading. Continuum; Student’s Guide edition ISBN: 978-0826498489 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Catharine and Other Writings, by Jane Austen (Oxford World's Classics) 2009Catharine and Other Writings (Oxford World’s Classics), by Jane Austen. A round of applause goes out to the good folks at Oxford University Press who have now re-issued all of Jane Austen’s novels and minor works with introductions written by prominent scholars and supplemental material to help students and Austen enthusiasts better understand her writing and her life in context to her times. This latest venture includes Austen’s boisterous and comical early works of short stories which readers will find quite different than her later novels. (publisher’s description) In addition to prose fiction and prayers, this collection also contains many of Jane Austen’s poems, written to amuse or console friends, and rarely reprinted. The texts have been compared with the manuscripts and edited to give a number of new readings. The notes recreate the texture of daily life in Jane Austen’s age, and demonstrate her knowledge of the fiction of her time. The introduction by Margaret Anne Doody sets the writings within the context of Jane Austen’s life and literary career. Oxford University Press ISBN: 978-0199538423 

Austen’s contemporaries 

Castle Otranto, Horace Warlpole (Oxford World's Classics) 2009The Castle of Otranto: A Gothic Story (Oxford World’s Classics), by, Horace Walpole. Consider the granddaddy of Gothic novels, Castle of Otranto sparked a genre that would become a sensation in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and influenced Jane Austen’s gentle parody Northanger Abbey. Published in 1764, it includes all of the stereotypical trappings of a Gothic story including castles, dungeons and supernatural events. An absolute must for Austen fans and enthusiasts of the Gothic, this reissue is based on the 1798 second edition which was reworked by Walpole and includes an introduction by E. J. Clery, a Research Fellow in English at Sheffield Hallam University and author of The Rise of Supernatural Fiction 1762-1800 (1995). Oxford University Press ISBN: 978-0199537211 

Samuel Taylor Coleridge - The Major Works (Oxford World's Classic) 2009Samuel Taylor Coleridge – The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics), by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. (publisher’s description) Samuel Taylor Coleridge, (1772-1834) poet, critic, and radical thinker, exerted an enormous influence over contemporaries as varied as Wordsworth, Southey and Lamb. This collection represents the best of Coleridge’s poetry from every period of his life, particularly his prolific early years, which produced The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Christabel, and Kubla Khan. The central section of the book is devoted to his most significant critical work, Biographia Literaria, and reproduces it in full. It provides a vital background for both the poetry section which precedes it and for the shorter prose works which follow. There is also a generous sample of his letters, notebooks, and marginalia, some recently discovered, which show a different, more spontaneous side to his fascinating and complex personality. Oxford University Press ISBN: 978-0199537914 

Until next month, happy reading to all, 

Laurel Ann

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