13 New Books to Read If You Love Jane Austen

Posted on May 15, 2017 by

Beautiful and brilliant heroines, handsome gentlemen, smart repartee, and insightful social commentary — Jane Austen’s beloved novels have it all. Lucky for us, many modern authors continue to write about the time period, explore similar social themes, and imagine modern retellings of Austen’s classics. Check out this list of new releases sure to appeal to Jane Austen fans. Publishers’ descriptions included below.

 

The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

Perfect for fans of Jane Austen, this engrossing debut novel offers an unusual twist on the legacy of one of the world’s most celebrated and beloved authors: two researchers from the future are sent back in time to meet Jane and recover a suspected unpublished novel.

London, 1815: Two travelers — Rachel Katzman and Liam Finucane — arrive in a field in rural England, disheveled and weighed down with hidden money. Turned away at a nearby inn, they are forced to travel by coach all night to London. They are not what they seem, but rather colleagues who have come back in time from a technologically advanced future, posing as wealthy West Indies planters — a doctor and his spinster sister. While Rachel and Liam aren’t the first team from the future to “go back,” their mission is by far the most audacious: Meet, befriend, and steal from Jane Austen herself.

Carefully selected and rigorously trained by The Royal Institute for Special Topics in Physics, disaster-relief doctor Rachel and actor-turned-scholar Liam have little in common besides the extraordinary circumstances they find themselves in. Circumstances that call for Rachel to stifle her independent nature and let Liam take the lead as they infiltrate Austen’s circle via her favorite brother, Henry.

But diagnosing Jane’s fatal illness and obtaining an unpublished novel hinted at in her letters pose enough of a challenge without the continuous convolutions of living a lie. While her friendship with Jane deepens and her relationship with Liam grows complicated, Rachel fights to reconcile the woman she is with the proper lady 19th-century society expects her to be. As their portal to the future prepares to close, Rachel and Liam struggle with their directive to leave history intact and exactly as they found it… however heartbreaking that may prove.

Why Austen fans will love it: Who wouldn’t love to meet the Austen herself — in her own time period? Count us in!

 

Seeking Mansfield by Kate Watson

Sixteen-year-old Finley Price has perfected two things: how to direct a world-class production, and how to fly way, way under the radar. The only person who ever seems to notice Finley is her best friend and godparents’ son, Oliver Bertram. Since Finley moved in with her godparents after the death of her father, she and Oliver have grown close. If Finley could just take Oliver’s constant encouragement to heart and step out of the shadows, she’d finally chase her dream of joining the prestigious Mansfield Theater. But when teen movie stars Emma and Harlan Crawford move across the street from the Bertrams, they shake up Finley and Oliver’s stable friendship. As Emma and Oliver grow closer, Finley realizes that Harlan’s attention is shifting to her. She discovers she might have feelings for him too. Or, is she only interested in Harlan because Oliver is taken? Finley doesn’t want to be won, and she doesn’t want to see Oliver with anyone else. To claim Oliver’s heart — and keep her own — she’ll have to find the courage to do what she fears most: Step into the spotlight.

Why Austen fans will love it: It’s a modern-day retelling of Austen’s Mansfield Park, proving that the characters and plots in her novels are just as relevant today as they were 200 years ago.

 

Belgravia by Julian Fellowes

On the evening of 15 June 1915, the great and the good of British society have gathered in Brussels at what is to become one of the most tragic parties in history — the Duchess of Richmond’s ball. For this is the eve of the Battle of Waterloo, and many of the handsome young men attending the ball will find themselves, the very next day, on the battlefield.

For Sophia Trenchard, the young and beautiful daughter of Wellington’s chief supplier, this night will change everything. But it is only 25 years later, when the upwardly mobile Trenchards move into the fashionable new area of Belgravia, that the true repercussions of that moment will be felt. For in this new world, where the aristocracy rub shoulders with the emerging nouveau riche, there are those who would prefer the secrets of the past to remain buried…

Why Austen fans will love it: Janeites will feel right at home with Belgravia‘s young mismatched lovers and exploration of British class dynamics. Plus, author Julian Fellowes is the creator of Downton Abbey — and he knows his historical fiction!

 

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Devil in Spring by Lisa Kleypas

New York Times bestselling author Lisa Kleypas delivers the unforgettable tale of a strong-willed beauty who encounters her match in one of London’s most notorious — yet irresistible — rakes…

An eccentric wallflower…

Most debutantes dream of finding a husband. Lady Pandora Ravenel has different plans. The ambitious young beauty would much rather stay at home and plot out her new board game business than take part in the London Season. But one night at a glittering society ball, she’s ensnared in a scandal with a wickedly handsome stranger.

A cynical rake…

After years of evading marital traps with ease, Gabriel, Lord St. Vincent, has finally been caught by a rebellious girl who couldn’t be less suitable. In fact, she wants nothing to do with him. But Gabriel finds the high-spirited Pandora irresistible. He’ll do whatever it takes to possess her, even if their marriage of convenience turns out to be the devil’s own bargain.

A perilous plot…

After succumbing to Gabriel’s skilled and sensuous persuasion, Pandora agrees to become his bride. But soon she discovers that her entrepreneurial endeavors have accidentally involved her in a dangerous conspiracy — and only her husband can keep her safe. As Gabriel protects her from their unknown adversaries, they realize their devil’s bargain may just turn out to be a match made in heaven…

Why Austen fans will love it: Like Elizabeth Bennet, Pandora isn’t a shrinking violet, and similar to Mr. Darcy, Gabriel is far from the perfect man. Here’s another story from that time period in which our hero and heroine don’t fall head over heels at first sight, but we root for their relationship nonetheless.

 

Mr. Rochester by Sarah Shoemaker

For 170 years, Edward Fairfax Rochester has stood as one of literature’s more romantic, most complex, and most mysterious heroes. Sometimes haughty, sometimes tender-professing his love for Jane Eyre in one breath and denying it in the next-Mr. Rochester has for generations mesmerized, beguiled, and, yes, baffled fans of Charlotte Brontë’s masterpiece. But his own story has never been told.

Now, out of Sarah Shoemaker’s rich and vibrant imagination, springs Edward: a vulnerable, brilliant, complicated man whom we first meet as a motherless, lonely little boy roaming the corridors and stable yards of Thornfield Hall. On the morning of Edward’s eighth birthday, his father issues a decree: He is to be sent away to get an education, exiled from Thornfield and all he ever loved. As the determined young Edward begins his journey across England, making friends and enemies along the way, a series of eccentric mentors teach him more than he might have wished about the ways of the men-and women-who will someday be his peers.

But much as he longs to be accepted-and to return to the home where he was born-his father has made clear that Thornfield is reserved for his older brother, Rowland, and that Edward’s inheritance lies instead on the warm, languid shores of faraway Jamaica. That island, however, holds secrets of its own, and not long after his arrival, Edward finds himself entangled in morally dubious business dealings and a passionate, whirlwind love affair with the town’s ravishing heiress, Antoinetta Bertha Mason.

Eventually, after a devastating betrayal, Edward must return to England with his increasingly unstable wife to take over as master of Thornfield. And it is there, on a twilight ride, that he meets the stubborn, plain, young governess who will teach him how to love again.

It is impossible not to watch enthralled as this tender-hearted child grows into the tormented hero Brontë immortalized-and as Jane surprises them both by stealing his heart. Mr. Rochester is a great, sweeping, classic coming-of-age story, and a stirring tale of adventure, romance, and deceit. Faithful in every particular to Brontë’s original yet full of unexpected twists and riveting behind-the-scenes drama, this novel will completely, deliciously, and forever change how we read and remember Jane Eyre.

Why Austen fans will love it: If you love books by Jane Austen, chances are you’re a fan of the Brontë sisters, too. Gain a fresh glimpse into another work of classic English literature with Shoemaker’s new release.

 

Marry in Haste by Anne Gracie

From the award-winning author of The Summer Bride comes the first in a charming new historical romance series where marriages of convenience turn into true love matches.

Major Calbourne Rutherford returns to England on the trail of an assassin, only to find he’s become Lord Ashendon, with the responsibility for vast estates and dependent relatives. Cal can command the toughest of men, but his wild half-sisters are quite another matter. They might just be his undoing.

When he discovers that Miss Emmaline Westwood, the girls’ former teacher, guides them with ease, Cal offers her a marriage of convenience. But strong-minded and independent Emm is neither as compliant nor as proper as he expected, and Cal finds himself most inconveniently seduced by his convenient wife.

Emm knows they didn’t marry for love, yet beneath her husband’s austere facade, she catches glimpses of a man who takes her breath away. As pride, duty and passion clash, will these two stubborn hearts find more than they ever dreamed of?

Why Austen fans will love it: Austenites will appreciate the spunky hero and unexpected romance in Anne Gracie’s novel.

 

Jane Austen, the Secret Radical by Helena Kelly

A brilliant, illuminating reassessment of the life and work of Jane Austen that makes clear how Austen has been misread for the past two centuries and that shows us how she intended her books to be read, revealing, as well, how subversive and daring — how truly radical — a writer she was.

In this fascinating, revelatory work, Helena Kelly — dazzling Jane Austen authority — looks past the grand houses, the pretty young women, past the demure drawing room dramas and witty commentary on the narrow social worlds of her time that became the hallmark of Austen’s work to bring to light the serious, ambitious, deeply subversive nature of this beloved writer. Kelly illuminates the radical subjects — slavery, poverty, feminism, the Church, evolution, among them — considered treasonous at the time, that Austen deftly explored in the six novels that have come to embody an age. The author reveals just how in the novels we find the real Jane Austen: a clever, clear-sighted woman “of information,” fully aware of what was going on in the world and sure about what she thought of it. We see a writer who understood that the novel — until then seen as mindless “trash” — could be a great art form and who, perhaps more than any other writer up to that time, imbued it with its particular greatness.

Why Austen fans will love it: There’s definitely something special about Austen’s works beyond the quaint English villages and the well-bred heroes and heroines. Here’s a powerful nonfiction read to help explain what sets her novels apart — in her own time as well as ours.

 

On the Sofa with Jane Austen by Maggie Lane

On the Sofa with Jane Austen is a collection of essays that first appeared in the Regency World magazine. They celebrate the quirkiest corners and cleverest contrivances of Jane Austen’s art. The 21 topics range from coiffure to crime, from gossip to grandmothers. The title comes from the first essay, but it is also an invitation to spend time with a well-loved author in a relaxed and intimate way. The essays are: “On the Sofa”; “The Hair was Curled”; “Lady Bertram’s Fringe”; “A Very White World”; “The Silence of Mr Perry”; “Plump Cheeks and Thick Ankles”; “Reading Aloud”; “Arms and Legs Enough”; “November in the Novels”; “Words Overheard”; “Home Comforts”; “Shoelaces and Shawls”; “The Freshest Green”; “Neighborhood Spies”; “She is Pretty Enough”; “Small World”; “Devoted Sisters”; “Theft and Punishment”; “Heroes and Husbands”; “Only a Grandmother” and finally, “Dear Mary.” This will be of interest to all Jane Austen enthusiasts, especially undergraduates and those studying English Literature at A-level, as well as History and Economics.

Why Austen fans will love it: If Austen were a magazine writer, this would be the collection of articles she would have written.

 

Searching for Mr. Tilney by Jane Odiwe

When Caroline Heath is taken to Bath in 1975, she little expects to find the gothic adventure she craves, let alone discover Jane Austen’s secret teenage journal, or how it’s possible to live in someone else’s body. Yet, she’s soon caught up in a whirlwind of fantastic events — travels through time, a love story or three, and even the odd sinister murder — or so she thinks.

As the past and present entwine, Jane’s journal reveals a coming of age tale, set against the scandalous backdrop of Knole Park in Kent, and the story behind an enigmatic portrait. In Bath, a Georgian townhouse acts as a portal in time, and Caroline finds herself becoming Cassandra Austen, a young woman making her debut in society, torn between family duty and the love of her life. As the riddles unfold, and the lines blur between illusion and reality, will Caroline find the happiness she seeks or will she indulge her wild imagination, threatening her future and a fairy tale ending?

Why Austen fans will love it: Part time-travel, part romance, and part historical fiction, this book depicts every reader’s fantasy — to go back in time and be Austen’s contemporary.

 

A Purely Private Matter by Darcie Wilde

The Rosalind Thorne Mysteries — inspired by the novels of Jane Austen — continue as the audacious Rosalind strives to aid those in need while navigating the halls of high society…

Rosalind Thorne has slowly but assuredly gained a reputation as “a useful woman” — by helping respectable women out of some less-than-respectable predicaments.

Her latest endeavor is a tragedy waiting to happen. Desperate Margaretta Seymore is with child — and her husband is receiving poisoned pen letters that imply that her condition is the result of an affair with the notorious actor Fletcher Cavendish. Margaretta asks Rosalind to find out who is behind the scurrilous letters. But before she can make any progress, Cavendish is found dead, stabbed through the heart.

Suddenly, Rosalind is plunged into the middle of one of the most sensational murder trials London has ever seen, and her client’s husband is the prime suspect. With the help of the charming Bow Street runner Adam Harkness, she must drop the curtain on this fatal drama before any more lives are ruined.

Why Austen fans will love it: If you love Regency London, this book is for you. Jump into the time period of Austen’s books — and get ready for a little mystery, a little romance, and a load of wit.

 

Jane of Austin by Hillary Manton Lodge

Just a few years after their father’s business scandal shatters their lives, Jane and Celia Woodward find themselves forced out of their San Francisco tea shop. The last thing Jane wants is to leave their beloved shop on Valencia Street, but when Celia insists on a move to Austin, Texas, the sisters pack up their kid sister Margot and Jane’s tea plants, determined to start over yet again.

But life in Austin isn’t all sweet tea and breakfast tacos. Their unusual living situation is challenging and unspoken words begin to fester between Jane and Celia. When Jane meets and falls for up-and-coming musician Sean Willis, the chasm grows deeper.

While Sean seems to charm everyone in his path, one person is immune — retired Marine Captain Callum Beckett. Callum never meant to leave the military, but the twin losses of his father and his left leg have returned him to the place he least expected — Texas.

In this modern spin on the Austen classic, Sense and Sensibility, the Woodward sisters must contend with new ingredients in unfamiliar kitchens, a dash of heartbreak, and the fragile hope that maybe home isn’t so far away.

Release date: June 13

Why Austen fans will love it: This novel will make you reimagine yourself as a modern-day Marianne or Elinor Dashwood. It’s a smart blend of classic and contemporary.

 

The Making of Jane Austen by Devoney Looser

Just how did Jane Austen become the celebrity author and the inspiration for generations of loyal fans she is today? Devoney Looser’s The Making of Jane Austen turns to the people, performances, activism, and images that fostered Austen’s early fame, laying the groundwork for the beloved author we think we know.

Here are the Austen influencers, including her first English illustrator, the eccentric Ferdinand Pickering, whose sensational gothic images may be better understood through his brushes with bullying, bigamy, and an attempted matricide. The daring director-actress Rosina Filippi shaped Austen’s reputation with her pioneering dramatizations, leading thousands of young women to ventriloquize Elizabeth Bennet’s audacious lines before drawing room audiences. Even the supposedly staid history of Austen scholarship has its bizarre stories. The author of the first Jane Austen dissertation, student George Pellew, tragically died young, but he was believed by many, including his professor-mentor, to have come back from the dead.

Looser shows how these figures and their Austen-inspired work transformed Austen’s reputation, just as she profoundly shaped theirs. Through them, Looser describes the factors and influences that radically altered Austen’s evolving image. Drawing from unexplored material, Looser examines how echoes of that work reverberate in our explanations of Austen’s literary and cultural power. Whether you’re a devoted Janeite or simply Jane-curious, The Making of Jane Austen will have you thinking about how a literary icon is made, transformed, and handed down from generation to generation.

Release date: June 25

Why Austen fans will love it: Austen inspires us, but who inspired her? This brand new nonfiction work is a wonderful addition to the library of those fascinated by the story behind the story.

 

The Austen Escape by Katherine Reay

After years of following her best friend’s lead, Mary Davies finds a whimsical trip back to Austen’s Regency England paves the way towards a new future.

Mary Davies lives and works in Austin, Texas, as an industrial engineer. She has an orderly and productive life, a job and colleagues that she enjoys — particularly a certain adorable, intelligent, and hilarious consultant. But something is missing for Mary. When her estranged and emotionally fragile childhood friend Isabel Dwyer offers Mary a two-week stay in a gorgeous manor house in Bath, Mary reluctantly agrees to come along, in hopes that the holiday will shake up her quiet life in just the right ways. But Mary gets more than she bargained for when Isabel loses her memory and fully believes that she lives in Regency England. Mary becomes dependent on a household of strangers to take care of Isabel until she wakes up.

With Mary in charge and surrounded by new friends, Isabel rests and enjoys the leisure of a Regency lady. But life gets even more complicated when Mary makes the discovery that her life and Isabel’s have intersected in more ways that she knew, and she finds herself caught between who Isabel was, who she seems to be, and the man who stands between them. Outings are undertaken, misunderstandings play out, and dancing ensues as this triangle works out their lives and hearts among a company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.

Release date: November 7

Why Austen fans will love it: We fully sympathize with Isabel — we’ve been known to pretend we’re in Regency England from time to time, too!

Which of these books are you most excited to read? Share in the comments!

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