Jane Austen Made Me Do It collects short stories written by 22 different writers inspired by Jane Austen, whom Natress calls “Literature’s wittiest muse and astute observer of the human heart.”
These captivating, clever and fanciful short stories feature characters created by Jane Austen, or feature a new spin on an Austen classic, or supply tongue-in-cheek criticisms of society; the tales span periods from Austen times to modern day. In “Jane Austen’s Nightmare” by Syrie James, Jane is confronted by a young woman who looks surprisingly like her character Marianne Dashwood. Even more surprising, this woman actually turns out to be Marianne Dashwood and chastises Ms. Austen for making her such a vacuous creating and humiliating her. This is just the beginning of Ms. Austen’s trials, as Ms. Dashwood then proceeds to introduce other characters to Ms. Austen—and they take their turns complaining about how they were misrepresented by the author.
“Nothing Less Than Fairy-Land” by Monica Fairview is about Emma’s life after her marriage to Mr. Knightley and how she keeps peace between and her husband and her father, Mr. Woodhouse, while tending to matchmaking between Miss Bates and a Mr Abdy. Janet Millany’s “Jane Austen Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” tells the story of a teacher and student discussing whether or not members of the musical group The Beatles would make better mates for Sense and Sensibility’s Marianne and Elinor Dashwood than Mr. Willoughby or Mr. Brandon.
More laughs are in store for the reader when Laurie Viera Rigler writes about the court of “Intolerable Stupidity.” There Mr. Darcy appears in front of the Honorable Jude Lady Catherine de Bourgh, his white shirt dripping wet, to make his complaints against rewrites and artistic license taken over the original novel, which has people heaving buckets of water on him to re-enact the famous scene in which Pride and Prejudice’s television character Mr. Darcy takes a dip at Pemberly. Alexandra Potter in “Me and Mr. Darcy, Again” also takes the characters time-traveling in her story about a young woman who can’t be sure if she is dreaming or really in a relationship with Mr. Darcy—or if Mr. Darcy is her boyfriend, Spike.
Amanda Grange’s “Mr. Bennet Meets his Match” tells an ironic tale of Mr. Bennet reminiscing about how and when he met Mrs. Bennet 23 years prior; and how his mother was pushing for him to marry well in order that she not lose her home of Longbourn to their despised cousin Collins. “The Love Letter” by Brenna Aubrey is an enthralling tale of Dr. Mark Hinton who receives an anonymous note–a page torn from Persuasion. Inspired to understand the meaning of this letter, Hinton reads the novel, seeing himself as Captain Wentworth and, in the role of Anne, his lost love, Justine. It is left to be seen what he gleans from the novel and how it will change his life.
Jane Austen Made Me Do It is a diverse and whimsical collection of Austen-inspired short stories that will entertain and delight Austen fans. 5 stars.