Austen Fiction Reviews

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed

[openbook booknumber=”0547370210″][rating:4/5]

Jane Austen’s popularity never seems to fade. She has hordes of devoted fans, and there have been numerous adaptations of her life and work. But who was Jane Austen? The writer herself has long remained a mystery. And despite the resonance her work continues to have for teens, there has never been a young adult trade biography on Austen.

Catherine Reef changes that with this highly readable account. She takes an intimate peek at Austen’s life and innermost feelings, interweaving her narrative with well-crafted digests of each of Austen’s published novels. The end result is a book that is almost as much fun to read as Jane’s own work—and truly a life revealed.

This book caught my eye for its clean, well styled cover and hooked me with its promise of a simple and concise biography of Jane Austen written for young adults. I love Jane Austen and am a huge fan of her novels, their movies, and their many spin offs. But, aside from what I knew from watching Becoming Jane, I didn’t know too much about the author herself. This book was the perfect toe in the pool and revealed Jane Austen in a way that was engaging and interesting and left me eager to re-read her novels again with this new information in mind.

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

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In what should come as no surprise to anyone, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a novel about Pride and Prejudice… and zombies. Fully living up to its publisher’s title, Quirk Classics, this novel contains the far fetched, the hard to believe, and the down right insane antics of Jane Austen’s signature characters plunked down in a world over run by brain eating, flesh rotting, and by no means bright “unmentionables” whose presence change a classic into “something people would actually want to read”.

Also, this book is illustrated! I enjoyed the art in it, even if some of the costumes depicted weren’t completely true to the era, they were far more fitting for the level of fighting that was going on in the book.

Now, I will admit right off that, aside from the occasional dalliances with Resident Evil and I Am Legend, I had no experience with zombie titles before this. I imagine that this novel was supposed to pantomime the zombie horror genre just as much as it was pantomiming this classic novel. The creatures were far fetched at best, and England’s reaction was, to say the least, not precisely consistent with the era in which it was supposed to take place.

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Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride

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I love reading sequels to Jane Austen‘s classic works, particularly her novel Pride and Prejudice and that’s why I picked up Mr. Darcy Presents His Bride. After reading The Last Man in the World I was in the mood for a try from a different author as that one didn’t quite cut it for me. This one was more to my liking!

Picking up where Pride and Prejudice left off this humorous novel starts off with the double wedding and it’s immediate aftermath. Lizzie gets whisked off to London society and faces the Ton who find her wit and sparkle just as engaging as Mr. Darcy did, in fact some find it a little too engaging, culminating in making a very powerful ally in the person of the Marchioness of Englebury. The story of London society and the workings and machinations of the upper classes of the time was engaging and often laugh out loud funny as the author kept to the tone of Jane Austen’s sardonic wit. The characters not only stayed in character but were developed throughout the book and grew and changed in very believable ways.

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The Last Man in the World

[openbook booknumber=”061514750X”]


This book is an alternate universe story written about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. You almost need to have read Pride and Prejudice for any of these “alternate endings” written by Abigail Reynolds to make any sense.

In this one, right at the scene where Lizzie tells Darcy that he is the last man in the world she could be prevailed upon to marry, things take a split from the main plot. Darcy is so enamored with Lizzie, so convinced of his success and completely certain that Lizzie is totally in love with him that he compromises her and, before she could utter the damning phrase that is this novel’s title, kisses her. And, right at that moment his cousin, Fitzwilliam, and two groomsmen find them in the cinch and Lizzie is forced to accept Darcy’s proposal or face social ruin.

The premise seems to be a bit too archaic for the times. Just being caught kissing somebody, especially if it is against your will, shouldn’t mean you have to marry the guy, even during the regency. The entire novel being based on it has the story start off on shaky legs. Things progress from there through an at times uplifting and at times depressing book. But, mostly the depressing.

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These Three Remain

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The conclusion to the trilogy Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman was everything I expected it to be and more. I can’t say much without spoiling the plot for those of you that haven’t read Pride and Prejudice but I will say Darcy’s transformation was astounding and done in a completely believable way and that (during my first read through) I actually skipped the second chapter in its entirety because the beginning had moved me so to tears I couldn’t bear to read the rest. I did on the second read through though, and it was entirely worth it.

The three novels were tied together very well, even with the new cast members involved. The only thing I didn’t like about the continuity is I felt the very, very end was a little… smooshed. There were a few scenes that I felt were set up to happen that didn’t, and it was a disappointment. Can’t say too much without giving things away. But, I’ll think you’ll agree that Darcy’s final scenes with his guy friends reveal that some conversations should have taken place “on camera” that didn’t at that point. But, maybe that’s because the focus was finally on Fitz and Lizzie, instead of on Fitz and no Lizzie as it was before.

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