10 Jane Austen retellings to read on her birthday

10 Jane Austen retellings to read on her birthday

In Reading Lists by Alison Doherty

10 Jane Austen retellings to read on her birthday

Jane Austen is arguably one of the most popular and enduring authors of the last two centuries. From film to television to novels, artists and writers love to create tales inspired by her iconic stories. Pride and Prejudice remains the most popular, but there are many wonderful works based on Emma, Sense and Sensibility, and Persuasion. There are even works that center on Austen’s life and the devotion she’s inspired since her novels were first published. To borrow a line from Mr. Darcy, Austen fans “ardently admire and love” retellings.

Jane Austen was born on December 16th and this year marks her 246th birthday. To celebrate, we’ve compiled a list of our favorite Austen retellings. Ranging from romance to historical fiction to YA, these picks all contain the satire, wit, and romance of Austen’s novels that fans have adored for centuries.

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price

This clever Pride and Prejudice retelling, reimagines Austen’s most iconic characters in a murder mystery. Lizzie Bennet is a seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer who wants to prove herself by discovering the killer’s identity in London’s most high-profile murder. But Fitzwilliam Darcy, the heir to Pemberley Associates law firm, keeps getting in her way. He claims he’s trying to help her, but Lizzie is unconvinced… even when she develops feelings for him.

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The first in a romance series about an Indian American family living in San Francisco, this is the story of Dr. Trisha Raje, a prestigious neurosurgeon, and a conceited chef named DJ Caine. Their first impressions are not so great, but as they get to know each other the chemistry between them is undeniable. The flirtatious banter between these two characters has serious Mr. Darcy/Elizabeth Bennet vibes. The best part is that once you finish this Pride and Prejudice retelling, you can move onto the next books in the series: Recipe for Persuasion and Incense and Sensibility.

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For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund

A young adult sci-fi novel set in space might not be what you expect from a Jane Austen retelling, but it’s what you’ll get with this creative work. Borrowing from the plot of Persuasion, Elliot North refused to run away with her childhood love Kai four years ago. He was a servant, and she chose to follow her family’s wishes instead of her heart. Now, her family is in financial trouble and renting part of their estate to the Cloud Fleet. Little does Elliot know, their leader is Kai — now known as Captain Malakai Wentforth. If she can get through Kai’s hurt feelings, Elliot will have to decide between her family and her love all over again.

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The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner

This historical novel takes place right after World War II in a small English village where Jane Austen once lived. When Austen’s final home is threatened, a group of admirers form to preserve the estate and keep her memory alive. They are very different people, ranging from a movie star to a local doctor to a grieving school teacher, but what they have in common is a deep love and admiration for Austen’s work. Together, they put aside their personal tragedies and struggles to form something bigger than themselves: the Jane Austen Society.

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The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

Time travel meets historical fiction in this genre-bending, Austen-inspired romp. Rachel and Liam are researchers from the future who travel back in time to meet Jane Austen and attempt to recover one of her lost, unpublished novels. They pretend to be a doctor and his spinster sister and enter Jane’s social circles through her brother. Between the difficulties of life in 1815 and their growing closeness with Jane, Rachel and Liam aren’t sure if they want to go through with their mission.

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Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

This YA novel borrows from the story of one of Jane Austen’s lesser-known works, Mansfield Park. Finley Price lives with her wealthy godparents after leaving an abusive home. She spends most of her time trying to be helpful and unobtrusive to her new family, the Bertrams, though she secretly longs for a life in the theater and a romantic relationship with the Bertrams’ son Oliver. Things get shaken up when teen celebrities Emma and Harlan Crawford move next door, but Finley is determined not to lose herself or her dreams among the teenage drama.

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Pride by Ibi Zoboi

This Brooklyn-based Pride and Prejudice retelling explores wealth inequality, gentrification, and (of course) romance. Zuri Benitez loves her Haitian-Dominican family and her Bushwick neighborhood. But with increasing gentrification, everything is changing. Naturally, she’s poised to dislike the wealthy Darcy family that moves next door, a feeling that only intensifies after meeting Darius Darcy and deciding he’s a snob who’s not worth her time.

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Mr. Darcy’s Daughters by Elizabeth Aston

This is more of a Pride and Prejudice continuation than a retelling. It begins exactly 21 years after Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy married. The couple has now gone to Constantinople on a diplomatic assignment, leaving their five daughters to enjoy the London season under the guardianship of their cousins. Letty, Camilla, Georgina, Belle, and Alethea each have different goals for their time in London. Perhaps, after a few romantic adventures, a husband can be found for at least one of Darcy’s daughters.

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Ordinary Girls by Blair Thornburgh

In this tale inspired by Sense and Sensibility, sisters Plum and Ginny couldn’t be more different. After the death of their father and a family financial crisis, the girls are forced to leave their lovely Victorian mansion and live more modestly on their mother’s artist salary. Amidst this change, Plum and Ginny feel the push and pull of their sisterhood stronger than ever. It’s unclear if they will end the year closer than ever or enemies living in the same home.

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The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Based on the popular YouTube series with the same name, this diary-form novel follows 24-year-old Lizzie Bennet, living at home while finishing her thesis, as she creates online videos chronicling her life. Her whole household is abuzz with news that a rich medical student, Bing Lee, and his snobby friend William Darcy, have moved into their small town. What follows is a faithful retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in the contemporary world.

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About the Author: Alison Doherty

Alison is a writing teacher and part time assistant professor living in Brooklyn, New York. She has an MFA from The New School in writing for children and teenagers. She loves writing about books on the Internet, listening to audiobooks on her way to work, and reading anything with a twisty plot or a happily ever after.

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