(written with Delicia Johnson, our newest Austen blogger!)
Jane Austen’s literary works have been modernized, with numerous adaptations on screen and in literature. Authors have embraced Austen’s stories and have added unique twists of their own, garnering attention from readers of all ages. In keeping with this year's JASP focus on Austen's juvenilia, here’s a list of seven Austen-inspired juvenile adaptations you’ll want to read (Scroll to the bottom of the page to view the books and their covers).
1. Jane Austen Investigates Series by Julia Golding
If mysteries will not befall a young lady in her own village, she must seek them abroad. A spirited, 13-year-old Jane Austen solves mysteries in this wonderful historical fiction series for middle school readers. Julia Golding incorporates details of Jane Austen’s childhood, events of the late Georgian era, and some of Austen’s early novels. Golding delicately addresses questions of class and race through both subtle and overt character interactions, dialogue, and storylines. These clever, fast-paced mysteries will delight both kids and adults. Enola Holmes fans will definitely love this three-book series. Readers are also introduced to the novels Jane Austen read as a child and, subsequently, parodied in her juvenilia.
2. The Beautifull Cassandra with illustrations and afterword by Juliet McMaster
Scholar and artist Juliet McMaster brings Austen’s Juvenilia tale “The Beautifull Cassandra” to life with her picture book. Although the book appeals to younger children, teen and adult Austen fans may find themselves drawn toward the story’s charm and adorable animal characters. The book is a great way to introduce children to Jane Austen, and McMaster includes an afterword for young readers about Austen’s life and her writing. She is expected to speak at JASP 2023; you won’t want to miss it!
3. The Usborne Complete Jane Austen by Anna Milbourne with illustrations by Simona Bursi
Jane Austen’s novels and the epistolary novella Lady Susan are retold for young readers in this beautifully illustrated collection. Milbourne manages to make Austen’s works accessible while still being faithful to her language and the story details. This delightful collection also includes quotations from the original texts and links to websites to learn more about Jane Austen’s life and times.
4. The Espressologist by Kristina Springer
High school senior and barista Jane Turner isn’t your ordinary matchmaker. She has a theory that you can tell a lot about a person based on their coffee order and puts it into action when she starts hooking up some of her friends based on what they get. But when Jane’s boss hears about her matchmaking talent, or “espressology” as she refers to it, he runs an in-store promotion and Jane’s two best friends start dating. Jane should be happy for them, but some feelings she didn’t know she had come to the surface. This sweet romance novel is an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Emma and might leave you craving a latte.
5. The Next Great Jane by K.L. Going
Aspiring writer Jane Branner dreams of nothing else but becoming a famous author just like her literary idol, Jane Austen. She just may get the chance to uncover the secret to good writing when the famous author J.E. Fairfax visits the small port town of Whickett Harbor, Maine. Unfortunately, a hurricane strikes, and Jane is forced to spend time with the author’s arrogant son, Devon, instead. More trouble ensues when Jane’s mother, Susan, and Susan’s fiancee arrive from California to file for custody of Jane. Now she must prove to her mother and future stepfather that Whickett Harbor is where she truly belongs. Jane Branner’s progress as a writer parallels Jane Austen’s own growth as a writer from her juvenilia to her novels.
6. Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard
Most of us have heard of the film “The Devil Wears Prada”, but have you heard of “Prada and Prejudice”? Based loosely on Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice”, fifteen-year-old Callie is desperate to fit in and buys a pair of real Prada pumps on a school trip in London. Callie doesn’t get to flaunt her shoes for long when she trips outside the store and wakes up in… Regency England? She ends up at the Duke of Harksbury’s home, where she befriends a well-to-do teenager named Emily and eventually finds herself falling for her host. Unfortunately, buying Prada heels and hitting your head won’t transport you to regency England, but this lighthearted romantic comedy novel just might!
7. A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Sterling
This exceptional biography is beautifully illustrated and written for young readers. Lines from Austen’s novels and letters are effortlessly woven into the text to give young readers a sneak peak at Austen’s writings. There is also a strong focus on literary conventions that were in vogue at the time such as the gothic and novels of sensibility and how Austen parodied these conventions in her juvenilia. Jasmine A. Sterling spoke at our virtual 2021 Jane Austen Summer Program. An interview with her is still available to read on our blog.
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Don't miss the fun! Register now for the Jane Austen Summer Program, June 15-18, 2023. (There are still reduced-fee "early bird" spots available!)