At long last, I have finished reading Jane Austen Made Me Do It, a collection of short stories inspired by Jane Austen. But please don’t think my reporting to you that it took a long time to read is any indication that I didn’t like this collection, for I enjoyed it immensely.
Although I read the stories over the winter, I think it would make a perfect beach read. I would not recommend it for a plane trip, however, because it’s such a breezy read you’d have it finished before you land, even though there are 22 stories and almost 450 pages (including study guide and acknowledgements).
I won’t say what my favorite stories are because I did enjoy them all, but I will list from the book’s cover some of the authors who contributed: Lauren Willig, Adriana Trigiani, Jo Beverley, Amanda Grange, Frank Delaney & Diane Meier, Stephanie Barron, Syrie James, Alexandra Potter and Laurie Viera Rigler. The collection is edited by Laurel Ann Nattress, who also writes the austenprose.com blog.
My sense, based on no effort on my part to confirm this with a simple tally, is that the book is roughly divided among stories that take place during Austen’s life, involving either Austen herself or her relatives or her characters; stories that take place in modern day that are influenced by her novels; and supernatural stories, where Jane or one of her characters is a ghost, apparition or delusion. And there are stories that combine and cross these categories. I will also mention that although zombies and vampires are referenced, there are no stories that directly involve either.
It was surprising to me the number of ghost stories, considering that Jane herself avoided anything of the supernatural in her six novels. But I suppose it is understandable because it is so tempting to bring Jane into the modern day, which generally requires turning her into a ghost.
I will admit I was suspicious that the collection might be a trifle and then I was happy to learn that it was.
PS OK, I will name my favorite story: Carrie Bebris’ The Chase, wherein Frank Austen goes all Master and Commander on us. It’s the story that goes farthest afield from what we would think of as a Jane Austen story and thus I found it the most daring.