‘Austen in Austen’ Volume 1 is an anthology of stories, each based on one of Jane Austen’s stories and each written by a different author. All of the stories are set in late 1800s Austin, in Texas. The stories are intertwined, so characters appear in more than one story, and the chapters have quotes from the Austen story that they are based on so that the part of the storyline that is being highlighted can be neatly linked to. Here’s a quick rundown of each story.
She has two successful matches to her credit, and is currently working on finding a suitable husband for her protégé, Hattie Smith. However, this doesn’t mean that she neglects the care of her good friend Noah:
“You may deny all you wish,” she continued, “but your well-being speaks to me. And if you aren’t going to see to its care, then as your dearest friend and almost sister, I shall.”
He blinked several times.’This was a very sweet story; I particularly liked the hints, right from the beginning, that both Noah and Emmeline had feelings for each other that they weren’t able to admit, even to themselves. There were a number of incidents in the story that mirrored events in Austen’s novel, though the way the relationships developed had a slightly different dynamic. I really enjoyed this story though, it was my favourite of the anthology, I loved their wilful blindness!
“But remember this...men who make good husbands aren’t always the ones who set your blood thrumming the first time you meet. Make sure he’s God’s choice as well as yours.”I haven’t read ‘Sense & Sensibility’ in a long time and I’m due a re-read, but a part of the reason that it’s been so long is Marianne. When I read the story she got on my nerves with her self-absorption, and Marion got on my nerves too! She isn’t as dramatic as Marianne, but she is so determined to get a husband that she annoyed me a bit. Why not just enjoy the visit to her Aunt and just see what happens? Again, this story had some nice nods back to S&S which were enjoyable to see, and this story also had some really exciting moments. I enjoyed getting to know Brandon more – he was introduced in the first story in the anthology and from his name I’d supposed I’d be seeing him again later in the stories.
“If a marriage for money’s sake offends you, try to fall in love tonight. With someone rich, of course.”Faced with rejection at the hands of the attractive Mr Delacourt, Eliza is happy enough to listen to Mr Jacob Wicks’ tales about him. This was a sweet story. I liked Mr Delacourt, and his belief in Eliza being a fortune hunter was quite understandable. Eliza was very likeable, but I found her to be more Jo March from ‘Little Women’ than Elizabeth Bennet.
‘Was he anything more than a flesh and blood link to a paperback hero? Kathryn needed to encounter life firsthand, not just through her imagination.’Kathryn certainly has an active imagination. She is very interested in a story of a ghost in the graveyard that is scaring potential students away from the Finishing School. I thought this was a neat way of introducing a Gothic element to the story. Again the dynamic wasn’t quite the same as in Austen’s story, but I really enjoyed the story, and in particular, Kathryn, as she was such a sweet heroine, who really didn’t esteem herself highly.
This was such an enjoyable anthology of stories. As you may have gleaned from one of my quotes above, there is a Christian flavour to these stories, but it is more that the characters are Christian and may pray for guidance, etc, than the stories themselves having a Christian message. There are no scenes of a sexual nature. I liked the way that in each story there were quotes tying the events of the chapters back to the Austen stories. I was glad to see that each of the stories was interlinked, that was a really nice touch as you could spot potential major characters in the later stories early on, and catch up with characters we already knew later in the anthology. Although the stories were written by different authors there was a good sense of continuity – sometimes with anthologies there will be a story that doesn’t fit or seems weaker than the others but I thought the stories were of a very harmonious style, and of a very even quality. I’d rate each of the novellas as four star reads, and so the anthology as a whole also rates as four stars for me.
(As a side note, I’ll also say that the information on the kindle version in the UK says the anthology is 82 pages long, which seemed really short to me, however, according to Goodreads each of the four novellas is around that length so the book is longer than you'd expect from the description.)
*I received an ebook of the ‘Austen in Austin’ anthology from one of the authors for my honest review.