Monday, March 7, 2011

Intimations of Austen: Stories Inspired by the Works of Jane Austen

I was lucky to get my hands on a copy of Jane Greensmith's self published work, Intimations of Austen, a collection of Austen inspired short stories.
Too often, writers of Austen sequels choose to fill an entire novel with a story that could, perhaps, be better told in twenty or so pages. I have read many an Austen sequel that goes on far longer than it should, or spends the first hundred or so pages filling in space with plotless musings on nothing particularly interesting. Greensmith is smart to write stories, some only a couple pages long. So much happens in her short works, and no space is wasted, no description unnecessary.
Greensmith's book consists of 9 stories. The first, Rainbow Around the Moon, is inspired by Persuasion and is narrated by what the reader must assume is Anne Elliot's daughter. The next, Three Sisters, is a reminiscient of old folk tales, and has references to the three sisters of Mansfield Park. Next is The Last Baby, a particularly sharp look at Mrs. Bennet from her perspective, something that is lacking in other modern Austen sequels. Fourth is Bird of Paradise, a look at Fanny Bertram, nee Price, and the tenuous beginnings of her marriage with Edumnd (I wished this story was longer...I would eagerly read an entire novel by Greensmith that continues Fanny's struggles). Next is Color of Love, an artistic view of Darcy and his perception of color and love. Remember That We Are English, the sixth story, takes it title from a line by Henry Tilney in Northanger Abbey, and, not surprinsingly, is focused on Mr. Tilney's story. When Fates Conspire, the seventh, asks the reader to question if Anne and Frederick's reunion is all apart of the greater plan. Heaven Can Wait, possibly one of my favorites in this remarkable collection, is told from Jane's perspective shortly before she marries Bingley, and tells of a man mentioned in passing in Austen's original work. Last, but certainly not least, is All I Do, a what if tale about Elizabeth marrying Colonel Fitzwilliam, completely unaware of all Darcy has suffered for her.
I was taken in by Greensmith, and could have read another 9 or more stories by her. She has refreshing ideas and original plotlines, and nothing is just about the "happily ever after." As I mentioned above, her story of Fanny Bertram could have easily been extended into a short novel, as there was much to be explored.
I will read anything Greensmith writes again, and I hope she does. I hope she is picked up by Sourcebooks or another major publisher, as her work is good enough to deserve that.

RATING;

Her work, which you can find on Amazon, deserves a resounding five wax seals, and is one to be savored, and read more than once.

5 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed this book too. Jane is a master at the short story. Glad she chose to write about Jane Austen characters. Did you know that Jane's story Carpe Diem is a Top Ten finalist in the Jane Austen Made Me Do It Short Story Contest? He fame widens.

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  2. I bought Intimations as soon as it came out because I fell in love with Rainbow Around the Moon when it was on Derbyshire Writers' Guild. Jane's writing never disappoints.

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  3. Like you, Laurel Ann, I was so encouraged to see Jane enter that contest. And a finalist? Absolutely. Jane's Austen short stories are top-drawer. Frankly, I won't be surprised if she is announced as the winner! :)

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  4. Lovely review! This is one of my favorites, too!

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  5. Great review of a very satisfying collection of Austenian stories, which I have enjoyed reading too! You zero in on what makes them so engaging: original plot ideas, and economy of developing them. As you say so well: "So much happens in her short works, and no space is wasted, no description unnecessary." And like you, I look forward to whatever Jane Greensmith will write next.

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