- Nelda Mohr
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The first place to start is to read all of Jane Austen’s novels. She only had six novels published, but no writer has ever surpassed her in writing the novel of manners, revealing the human heart through the minutiae of social interaction.
Emma. by Jane Austen - As daughter of the richest, most important man in the small provincial village of Highbury, Emma Woodhouse is firmly convinced that it is her right--perhaps even her "duty"--to arrange the lives of others. Considered by most critics to be Austen's most technically brilliant achievement, "Emma" sparkles with ironic insights into self-deception, self-discovery, and the interplay of love and power.
Mansfield Park by Jane Austen - Fanny is an impoverished young woman, snubbed by society, who earns the respect and love of her cousin in this classic set in 19th century England.
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen - The earliest of her six major novels, Northanger Abbey remained unpublished until after Jane Austen's death. A deliciously witty satire of popular Gothic romances, it is perhaps Austen's lightest, most delightful excursion into a young woman's world. Catherine Morland, an unlikely heroine--unlikely because she is so ordinary--forsakes her English village for the pleasures and perils of Bath. There, among a circle of Austen's wonderfully vain, dissembling, and fashionable characters, she meets a potential suitor, Henry Tilney. But with her imagination fueled by melodramatic novels, Catherine turns a visit to his home, Northanger Abbey, into a hunt for dark family secrets. The result is a series of hilarious social gaffes and harsh awakenings that for all of Austen's youthful exuberance nevertheless conveys her mature vision of literature and life--and the consequences of mistaking one for the other.
Persuasion by Jane Austen - "Anne Elliott seems to have given up on present happiness and has resigned herself to living off her memories. More than seven years earlier she complied with duty: persuaded to view the match as imprudent and improper, she broke off her engagement to a naval captain with no fortune, ancestry, or prospects. However, when peacetime arrives and brings the Navy home, and Anne encounters Captain Wentworth once more, she starts to believe in second chances
Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen - "Marianne Dashwood wears her heart on her sleeve, and when she falls in love with the dashing but unsuitable John Willoughby she ignores her sister Elinor's warning that her behavior leaves her open to gossip. Meanwhile, Elinor is struggling to conceal her own romantic disappointment."—
Here are some other nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first century authors who have mastered this genre.
Can You Forgive Her? by Anthony Trollope - In this book, the first of six Palliser novels, Trollope inextricably binds together the issues of parliamentary election and marriage, of politics and privacy. The other five novels in this wonderful series are: Phineas Finn; The Eustace Diamonds; Phineas Redux ; The Prime Minister; The Duke's Children.
Folly by Susan Minot - The author of the national bestseller Monkeys has written a new novel that will appeal to fans of The Age of Innocence. Set in 1917 New England, it is the story of a conventional girl with unconventional stirrings, in a world where the choosing of a husband determines a woman's life.
The Bostonians by Henry James - This brilliant satire of the women's rights movement in America is the story of the ravishing inspirational speaker Verena Tarrant and the bitter struggle between two distant cousins who seek to control her. Will the privileged Boston feminist Olive Chancellor succeed in turning her beloved ward into a celebrated activist and lifetime companion? Or will Basil Ransom, a conservative southern lawyer, steal Verena's heart and remove her from the limelight?
The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz - It's the turn of the century--the 21st--and times are tough for the Fortunes, comprised of "divinely dysfunctional contemporary characters who could have stepped from a Jane Austen novel.
The Golden Bowl by Henry James -Henry James's classic novel about morality and marriage among upper-crust British and Americans in the early twentieth century.
The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton – A black comedy about vast wealth and a woman who can define herself only through the perceptions of others. Lily Bart's quest to find a husband who can satisfy her cravings for endless admiration and all the trappings of the rich comes to a scandalous end when she is accused of being a wealthy man's mistress.
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather - A compelling tale of a young woman who aspires to be a great opera singer... but wants to be loved as well.
Jane Austen Over and Over and Over Book List
This list has prequels, sequels, re-tellings and wildly re-imagined stories, all based on the stories of Jane Austen. You can find everything from modern-day contemporary romances to historically accurate stories.
Classics Redux Book List
Classic titles in literature serve as a starting point and springboard for some very imaginative titles.