Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review Part 3 - Jane Austen Made Me Do It by Laurel Ann Nattress, Editor

Recently the lovely Laurel Ann Nattress stopped by The Calico Critic to introduce her new project, Jane Austen Made Me Do It, an anthology of Austenesque short stories.  I've now had the opportunity to read this collection, and in conjunction with Laurel Ann's post, I've been sharing some brief impressions of each entry.  As there are 22 shorts, the review is broken up into three separate posts.  Today is Part 3.  The other portions can be found here:

After your visit here, be sure and check out the book's website, JaneAustenMadeMeDoIt.com!

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“Jane Austen’s Cat” by Diana Birchall

During the summer of 1813, Jane Austen was in the midst of writing her beloved novels.  She is visited by family members, including her niece Caroline, who adores cats.  The feline-allergic Jane is gracious toward Caroline's cat, Tyger.  She also agrees to spin some fun prose and verses for her niece, using aspects of her novels to characterize feline characters.  Diana Birchall's writing was well done, but I wasn't overly impressed with this tale.

“Me and Mr. Darcy, Again…” by Alexandra Potter

Years ago I bought Alexandra Potter's book, Me and Mr. Darcy, but to this day I haven't read it.  This short story seems to be a sequel, following up with Emily four years later.  While the story's concept is completely implausible, I totally bought into it and had a fun ride. I'm now looking forward to Me and Mr. Darcy even more!

“What Would Austen Do?” by Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino-Bradway

Young James is the son of a serious Janeite, who manages to get her 14 year-old to take a country dance class at the local community center. He begins his time there as a scoffing, obliging teenager and comes out a young man transformed.  Authors Jane and Caitlen accurately capture the mindset and vernacular of James' generation and give plenty of Austenian nuggets for us fans to enjoy.  This one was lighthearted, modern and sweet.  It has increased my desire to read their novel, Lady Vernon and Her Daughter , which has been on my TBR list for some time.

“The Riding Habit” by Pamela Aidan

My first Pamela Aidan read, "The Riding Habit" was enjoyable. Aidan's characterizations were spot-on, and there was even a moment of peril that I found quite interesting.  My only reservation is that it seemed to be too large of a story for the format.  Or maybe I was enjoying myself so much, I didn't want it to end!

“The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey

Knowing this short story was from the Jane Austen Made Me Do It contest winner, I was skeptical that it would be a memorable one.  Much to my delight, new author Brenna Aubrey has written a delightful piece, drawing heavily from themes found in her favorite Austen novel, Persuasion.  "The Love Letter" was well done, and had me fully engaged, even up to the last moments.  Of the short stories in Jane Austen Made Me Do It that are set in contemporary times, this one is my favorite by far.  I'm thrilled to read that Aubrey is working on a full-length novel. 

Stop by Brenna's site and see what others are saying about this debut author.  She was so nice to include my comments on her work.

“The Chase” by Carrie Bebris

Apparently based upon actual events, "The Chase" recounts the exploits of Jane Austen's seafaring brother, Francis.  While at times exciting and well-written throughout, this episode eventually came off as more of a history lesson for me, rather than an entertainment piece. It was nice to learn a bit about Captain Austen, but ultimately I can't say it was my favorite.

“Intolerable Stupidity” by Laurie Viera Rigler

Laurie Viera Rigler's contribution to Jane Austen Made Me Do It is inventive, quirky, and markedly different from the other entries in this anthology.  We find Lady Catherine De Bourgh presiding as a judge in a fictitious court.  It seems that those on trial are the filmmakers of the BBC's 1995 rendition of Pride and Prejudice, as well as the other incarnations, derivations and sequels to Jane Austen's work.  Rigler makes an interesting statement regarding those who object to all of the Austenesque material that's been produced in recent years.  There's also a bit of a romance brewing between the two main lawyers.  I found this one to be a bit odd. It's not my favorite of all the entries, but it was interesting.

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And that's the collection!  Twenty-two tales, giving the reader new perspectives on all things Jane Austen.  While every story wasn't a home-run for me, overall I highly enjoyed this anthology and would recommend it to anyone. My hope is that this volume does so well, Laurel Ann Nattress is able to secure a contract for a follow-up, with more short stories from some of the many Austenesque authors in the market today.  Kara Louise, Sharon Lathan, Jack Caldwell, Mary Simonsen, Marsha Altman are just a few authors who come to mind.  Might I suggest the title?  Jane Austen Made Me Do It Again!


  1. I'm thrilled that you're thrilled about my novel in progress. :-) Thanks for the kind words about "The Love Letter!"
    Do you mind if I add your review of the story to my quotes page?
    Best wishes,

  2. Bren:

    I'd be honored! Thanks for stopping by, and best wishes as you write!


  3. I loved 'What Would Austen Do?' but be ready that it is a complete change with 'Lady Vernon and Her Daughter' which i also loved - a lot of the new Jane Austen inspired - or maybe i should say 'Mr Darcy inspired! - take a lot of liberties but this one really got a grasp on the language and manner of Austen in a very authentic way.

  4. Luci:

    Sounds great! I love it when an author has a good grasp on the period in their writing. It really honors Austen and the world she created.


  5. Thanks Laura, for your very thorough and thoughtful review! I am so glad that you enjoyed Jane Austen Made Me Do It. I to hope that there will be another edition.

  6. Thanks, Laurel Ann! Here's hoping for another!




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