Austen Week, part II

(You know, it's very soothing, not having to get creative with my post titles.)

We're planning to review a number of Austen continuations this week, and Lord knows there's been a recent outpouring of Austen-inspired books*, but today we thought we'd introduce you to some of the earlier attempts to turn Austen-pillaging into a competitive sport. You'd probably be smarter to stick with Austen's original works (trust me, they stand up to a few thousand re-readings), reading a Georgette Heyer novel, or checking out one of the web's many Austen fanfic sites**, but, hey, if all else fails...

The Good:

Joan Aiken wrote a number of books that were either continuations of or inspired by Austen's works. While most of these were forgettable or worse (Lady Catherine's Necklace), two were solid: 1984's Mansfield Revisited and 1997's Jane Fairfax. Both are worth hunting for at your local library.

The Bad:

Julia Barrett (the pseudonym of authors Gabrielle Donnelly and Julia Braun Kessler) is the author of three Austen continuations: The Third Sister, Presumption, and Charlotte. When I first read these books I thought they were terrible, but--having read several Austen continuations that are far worse--now I'm grading on a curve, and have since upgraded these to "Mediocre".

The Ugly:

While I've read plenty of craptastic Austen continuations, Linda Berdoll's two R-rated efforts (Darcy and Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley and Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife) take the absolutely unreadable cake. I'm all for spicing things up, but Berdoll's dim-witted, over-the-top bodice-ripping and questionable writing talent would have been better suited to a late-night cable version of Forever Amber.

[Click here for a list of additional Austen sequels/companion novels, organized by source book.]

*She practically has her own section at Target!
**Hey, don't knock 'em until you've tried 'em. Some of them are excellent, and all of them are FREE.
Posted by: Julianka


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