I’ve really been enjoying not having a set TBR the past couple of months but as soon as I heard about Jane Austen July I knew that I wanted to participate. I will definitely be completing two of the five reading prompts since those books are part of the group readalongs but I am hoping to read the other three books on this list. It would also be amazing to read some other Austen novels beyond the two that I am committed to but I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.
1. Read one of Jane Austen’s six novels
Since its immediate success in 1813, Pride and Prejudice has remained one of the most popular novels in the English language. Jane Austen called this brilliant work “her own darling child” and its vivacious heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, “as delightful a creature as ever appeared in print.” The romantic clash between the opinionated Elizabeth and her proud beau, Mr. Darcy, is a splendid performance of civilized sparring. And Jane Austen’s radiant wit sparkles as her characters dance a delicate quadrille of flirtation and intrigue, making this book the most superb comedy of manners of Regency England.
2. Read something by Jane Austen that is not one of her main six novels
‘Of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a Man of his age! – just old enough to be formal, ungovernable and to have the Gout – too old to be agreable, and too young to die.’
The scheming and unscrupulous Lady Susan is unlike any Austen heroine you’ve met in this fascinating early novella.
3. Read a non-fiction work about Jane Austen or her time
James Edward Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of his aunt Jane Austen was published in 1870, over fifty years after her death. Together with the shorter recollections of James Edward’s two sisters, Anna Lefroy and Caroline Austen, the Memoir remains the prime authority for her life and continues to inform all subsequent accounts. These are family memories, the record of Jane Austen’s life shaped and limited by the loyalties, reserve, and affection of nieces and nephews recovering in old age the outlines of the young aunt they had each known. They still remembered the shape of her bonnet and the tone of her voice, and their first-hand accounts bring her vividly before us. Their declared partiality also raises fascinating issues concerning biographical truth, and the terms in which all biography functions.
This edition brings together for the first time these three memoirs, and also includes Jane’s brother Henry Austen’s Biographical Notice of 1818 and his less known Memoir of 1833.
4. Read a retelling of a Jane Austen book OR a work of historical fiction set in Jane Austen’s time
A summer house party turns into a whodunit when Mr. Wickham, one of literature’s most notorious villains, meets a sudden and suspicious end in this mystery featuring Jane Austen’s leading literary characters.
The happily married Mr. Knightley and Emma are throwing a house party, bringing together distant relatives and new acquaintances—characters beloved by Jane Austen fans. Definitely not invited is Mr. Wickham, whose latest financial scheme has netted him an even broader array of enemies. As tempers flare and secrets are revealed, it’s clear that everyone would be happier if Mr. Wickham got his comeuppance. Yet they’re all shocked when Wickham turns up murdered—except, of course, for the killer hidden in their midst.
Nearly everyone at the house party is a suspect, so it falls to the party’s two youngest guests to solve the mystery: Juliet Tilney, the smart and resourceful daughter of Catherine and Henry, eager for adventure beyond Northanger Abbey; and Jonathan Darcy, the Darcys’ eldest son, whose adherence to propriety makes his father seem almost relaxed. The unlikely pair must put aside their own poor first impressions and uncover the guilty party—before an innocent person is sentenced to hang.
5. Read a book by a contemporary of Jane Austen
In an attempt to create a perfect new being, scientist Victor Frankenstein secretly assembles a collection of body parts and activates it with an electrical charge. The result is horrifying – even to his maker – and is never named.
The hideous creature escapes the laboratory and searches in vain for friendship. Despairing, he returns to Frankenstein and demands a partner as his right to happiness. But when Victor destroys her before she is completed, the monster vows vengeance on everything he holds dear.
Widely regarded as the first proper science-fiction novel, “Frankenstein” provided the inspiration for a whole genre of horror stories and, later, films.
6. Watch a direct screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book
Since I’m going to be reading Pride and Prejudice the first half of the month I think I will watch a P&P adaptation. Right now I’m thinking the 1940 adaptation but I’m not 100%.
7. Watch a modern screen adaptation of a Jane Austen book
I’ll probably watch Clueless but maybe I’ll go with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Or perhaps both.