In celebration of a beloved author’s birthday this December we are rejoicing in all things Jane Austen to commemorate her legendary oeuvre and birthday. Austen was born on December 16, 1775, and her books remain a staple in classic literature and have become a foundation for retellings galore. From Clueless to Bridget Jones’s Diary, this month we want to give a spotlight to all adaptations and retellings of Jane Austen’s work. This post will feature picture books on the life of Jane Austen, manga, middle grade novels, and young adult fiction.
Darcy Swipes Left. 2016. Young Adult.
Have you ever wondered how Mr. Darcy would text? Look no further at this clever modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice where Lizzy Bennet and Mr. Darcy have social media and smartphones and a love story arises between them. Find yourself giggling at the text messages of Mr. Bennet and prepare yourself for a novel where all the characters text each other with emojis, take selfies, and update their relationship statuses.
Prom & Prejudice. 2011. Young Adult.
Eulberg’s spin on Pride and Prejudice is based on Lizzie Bennet who attended the prestigious high school of Longbourn Academy on a scholarship. When all the girls at the academy are becoming enthralled about the prospect of prom, Lizzie does not seem interested in the designer dresses or shoes. However, Lizzie’s best friend Jane is excited due to Charles Bingley being back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about Jane’s prospective romance with Bingley although Lizzie cannot find it in herself to like Will Darcy, a boy she finds to be a pretentious, snobby jerk. Even though she finds Darcy to be a pompous jerk, why does she seem so drawn to him?
Frederick, Heather Vogel.
Pies & Prejudice. 2010. Young Adult.
Right before the start of her freshman year Emma unexpectedly moves to England. Emma’s life becomes a whirlwind when the mother-daughter book club is faced with a challenge. However, the resourcefulness of all the friends in the book club finds a way to continue meeting and discussing Jane Austen’s, Pride and Prejudice, a fitting parallel to Emma’s life. The novel centers around four childhood best friends Emma, Jess, Megan, and Cassidy. Told through each of the fifteen-year-old girls’ perspectives, Frederick takes you on a journey of teen romance, growing pains, responsibility, and issues that come with growing up. Each reader will come away with a character they relate to the most and through Frederick’s clever writing she blends the life of Jane Austen and Pride and Prejudice beautifully and ties it all together in the mother-daughter book club.
The Next Great Jane. 2020. Middle Grade.
Meet Jane Brennan, a girl that wants nothing more than to become a famous author like Jane Austen. All she needs to do? Figure out how to be a literary success, of course! Her chances of figuring out how increase when J.E. Fairfax visits her hometown of Whickett Harbor, Maine. However, when a hurricane rolls in Jane ends up stuck with the author’s snobby son named Devon and, worst of all, her mother Susan and her mother’s fiancé Erik have flown from Hollywood to Maine to file custody and ship Jane off to California. All she needs to do now is find her marine biologist dad a romantic partner and figure out what is the most important thing to her about Whickett Harbor to convince her mother she is meant to stay in Maine.
Illustrator: Hellard, Susan
I was Jane Austen’s Best Friend. 2010. Young Adult.
Timid Jenny Cooper is sent to stay with her cousin Jane Austen. Jenny does not know the world of dresses, dances, gossip, and romance that Jane seems all too familiar with. Amid her visit Jenny falls madly in love with the dashing Captain Thomas Williams and who better to help her with the heart of the man than Jane? But will that all be possible when Jenny has been keeping a desperate secret? If this secret were to leak it would bring a huge scandal to the doorstep of not only hers but the entire Austen family and what is an orphan girl meant to do in this predicament? Cora Harrison explores the fictional life of a young Jane Austen in this novel and balances between fictional and true elements on the author’s life as a teen based on biographies, critical studies, and family letters.
Artist: Po, Tse
Manga Classics: Pride & Prejudice. 2014. Graphic Novel.
In Pride & Prejudice we get a peek into the lives of the Bennet household with five daughters and no male heirs. Excitement ensues when an eligible bachelor visits the nearby estate. In this charming adaptation by Stacy King and illustrator Tse Po, the wonderful tale of Pride & Prejudice is told through manga. The illustrations are beautiful and retain all the narrative elements of the original classic with a twist. This graphic novel is a wonderful way to introduce readers to a beloved tale through sumptuous illustrations and storytelling.
Artist: Po, Tse
Manga Classics: Sense & Sensibility. 2016. Graphic Novel.
In Jane Austen’s first novel two sisters, Marianne and Elinor Dashwood, are true opposites where Marianne is impulsive and Elinor is cautious. When Marianne and Elinor’s father passes away both sisters are overcome with the grief and financial strain of their father’s passing. Both sisters move to a cottage in Devonshire where they battle love affairs with Edward Ferrars and John Willoughby. Follow the two sisters in a story filled with romance, social critique, and redemption in this modern manga adaptation.
Secrets in the Snow: a Novel of Intrigue and Romance. 2016. Young Adult
Michaela MacColl brings us a historical fiction story centered around Jane Austen. Jane Austen’s family is eager to marry her off to secure her future. However, Jane has other plans including drafting her novels and finds no interest in any of the male suitors that come her way, that is until Mr. Lefroy enters the picture, and she struggles between choosing her family or true love.
Sánchez Vegara, Ma Isabel (María Isabel)
Illustrator: Wilson, Katie
Jane Austen. 2018. Picture Book.
This picture book tells the biographical tale of Jane Austen, exploring her childhood in the English countryside, being born into a large family with seven siblings, and the heartbreak that she experienced that led to the creation and inspiration for Pride & Prejudice. Told through quirky illustrations it also features extra facts at the end, and includes a biographical timeline accompanied with historical images and an author profile. Little People, Big Dreams picture book series is perfect for babies and toddlers due to its narration being told through simple sentences that will inspire even the youngest of readers.
Enthusiasm. 2006. Young Adult.
Julie and Ashleigh, best friends, high school sophomores, and Jane Austen fans, both seem to have fallen for the same Mr. Darcy type boy and struggle to hide their true feelings from one another. Enthusiasm brings out themes of self-discovery, familial relationships, teenage feelings in boys, and creativity. Any Jane Austen fan will adore this sweet tale on friendship and trying to find your own Mr. Darcy.
Where’s Jane? 2018. Picture Book.
In this beautiful, illustrated book readers are introduced to Jane Austen’s regency and Georgian-era world. Children can spot the main characters of the famous novels such as Pride & Prejudice, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, etc. The reader can first read the snappy synopsis of the story, explore key stages of the narrative as you meet the main characters, and next, as you peruse through the gorgeous illustrations, try searching for the main characters and elusive author through the expansive and buzzing artwork.
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The Love Match. 2023. Young Adult.
The Love Match, a Jane Austen meet Bengali cinema mashup, follows teenager Zahra Kahn who’s amma (mother) believes she needs to find a good match, Jane Austen style. Which leads to her mother setting her up with handsome and wealthy eighteen-year-old Harun. However, Zahra feels a much deeper connection with her coworker Nayim. When Zahra and Harun decide to fake-date to appease their parents, trouble ensues when Zahra’s feelings begin to get mixed up.
Watson, Kate (Katherine)
Off Script. 2020. Young Adult
Off Script is a Jane Austen retelling of Emma centered around nineteen-year-old actress Emma Crawford whose favorite job is to play matchmaker to her friends. Although, after reuniting with Liam Price and discovering the darker sides of Hollywood, she begins to question the glamorous world she has always known.