Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

Jane Austen would have been 234 today

I’m a little late in the day posting this update – but happy 234th birthday Jane Austen!

Austen’s enduring popularity is proven, in part, by the uncountable number of spinoffs her life and books have spawned. Why has Jane Austen resonated with so many authors and readers? In my opinion, feisty heroines with a knack for clever dialogue will never get old, along with social commentary via drawing room gossip. Plus, as far as romance with handsome gentlemen is concerned, I think I agree with my grandmother on this one: leaving something to the imagination is just as titillating (if not more so) than the spiciest sex scene. What do you think?

It would be impossible to name all the Jane Austen-themed books, but read on for a few covered in BookPage, spanning genres from self-help to mystery:

Kristina Springer’s modern-day Emma, The Espressologist
Shannon Hale’s Austenland, which Trisha dubbed “Jane Austen with soul”
Laurie Viera Rigler’s tale of time-traveling to Jane Austen’s day, Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict
Karen Joy Fowler’s hit, The Jane Austen Book Club
Lauren Henderson’s self-help book Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating
Tracy Kiely’s Murder at Longbourne, where Pride and Prejudice meets cozy mystery
Beth Patillo’s “smart chick lit” Jane Austen Ruined My Life
Cathleen Schine’s February 2010 release, The Three Weissmanns of Westport, a re-imagined Sense and Sensibility

Perhaps the most unlikely adaptation is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. On December 11, The Telegraph announced that Natalie Portman would star as Elizabeth Bennet in a film adaptation of the spoof. (Read more about Jane vs. the supernatural beings.)

Oh, and by the way: As much as I love Pride and Prejudice, my favorite Austen novel is Mansfield Park. What about you?

11 Responses to Happy Birthday Jane Austen!

  1. Christie Ridgway says:

    I love Beth Patillo’s Jane Austen Ruined My Life. As for my fave Austen, I’ll go with P&P.

    And if we can talk spin-offs outside of the book realm, I loved “Lost in Austen,” the British television mini-series.

  2. DebbieQ says:

    Hmmmmmmm. This is a hard one to decide on. I was amazed that I loved “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”. When I saw the title I yelled, “Sacrilege!” as P and P is my favorite.

    And as far as movie adaptations go….I will confess a great fondness for “Clueless”. I hang my head in shame.

    • Eliza says:

      No shame there! I LOVE Clueless.

    • Trisha says:

      DebbieQ, you have come to the right place. Clueless is the best JA-inspired film, ever, and strongly influenced the wardrobe of middle-school me.

      As for straight adaptations, I’m going to speak up for the 2007 BBC version of Northanger Abbey, which stars the handsome JJ Feild.

      Oh, and books: Sense and Sensibility.

  3. Sherri Erwin says:

    I haven’t read spin-offs. Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen, but I love all of them all so much and have read them many times.

  4. Melissa Mc says:

    I just finished one of the Being Jane Austen Mysteries by Stephanie Barron — she was very successful in portraying Jane Austen’s unique prose, in a mystery-kind of way. I started Persuasion on Monday. I feel immersed in Jane Austen on her birthday! She’s aged mighty well!

  5. Terri M says:

    My favorite is Persuasion. I’m not a fan of the books that presume to tell Mr Darcy’s side of the story. To me, the appeal of Pride and Prejudice is the wonderment of how Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy change.

  6. Nadia says:

    I love P&P – its my favorite. As far as Austen related books, I really enjoyed Austenland and P&P&Zombies. I also love Clueless and Lost in Austen.

  7. Vicki says:

    P&P is my favorite, followed by Emma. I do like some of the books that tell the story from Mr. Darcy’s viewpoint, but refuse to read the Zombies.

  8. Steph says:

    I’m traditional in that P&P is definitely my favorite Austen novel… and the 5-hour BBC extravaganza starring Colin Firth is also my favorite adaptation! But I do love Sense & Sensibility starring Emma Thompson, as well as Clueless, and the Emma adaptation starring Gwyneth Paltrow.

    And while I’m all for a bit of whimsy when it comes to Austen novels, I have to say I don’t go for the myriad of spin-offs and sequels that have been written; I’m certainly a purist in that respect. I am always amazed when I do the shelves each month and see that there are at least two or three Austen-inspired novels slated for release. And seriously, there are always some. Every month. Clearly Jane is in no risk of falling out of favor… though wouldn’t it be ironic if 234 years after her birth she were at risk for overexposure?

  9. […] their book selection here. And Jane Austen fans can rejoice. P&P, Emma, Persuasion, Sense and Sensibility, Northanger Abby and Mansfield Park […]

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