Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress- Book Review

Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress
Published by Ballantine Books, an imprint of Random House

The past few years in particular have seen a plethora of Jane Austen retellings and adaptations. Many of these adaptations are beloved almost as much as Austen’s original stories are. It is gratifying to see an author who has been dead nearly 200 years inspiring such love and devotion that an entire subgenre has developed out of her work. Laurel Ann Nattress, a lover both of Austen’s original books and the “Austenesque” novels, decided to bring together some of the very best authors in the Austenesuqe subgenre – as well as some other authors who have been heavily influenced by Austen’s work – for a collection of original short stories: Jane Austen Made Me Do It.

Sometimes I’m not sure if there has ever been a review written of a short story collection that does not include the word “uneven.” Unfortunately, there are few short story collections that manage to avoid needing such a designation. That reality becomes particularly obvious when the collection is pulled together from the stories of twenty-two different authors. With the exception of Brenna Aubrey, a new writer whose story was included after she won the Jane Austen Made Me Do It short story contest, most of the featured authors are beloved in their genres.

However, though they are incredibly well-respected, these authors are primarily novelists, and many of them did not transition well into the short story form. The second story in particular, Waiting, read as if it were a scene from a novel, rather than a story in its own right. Waiting stood out the most for this issue, but it was evident in other stories to a lesser degree as well. Interestingly, Aubrey’s story, the one submitted through the short story contest, was one of the best.

Certainly, though, there are bright spots in Jane Austen Made Me Do It, in addition to simply Aubrey’s story. Lauren Willig and Jo Beverley’s stories stand out in particular. The casual fan of Austenesque stories might do better to pick a novel by one of these generally esteemed writers, but die hard fans will find enough to love in Jane Austen Made Me Do It that it is worth buying.

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Source: Publisher for an episode of What’s Old is New.
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7 comments to Jane Austen Made Me Do It edited by Laurel Ann Nattress- Book Review

  • I really enjoyed this collection. While I agree that many short story collections are uneven, I thought this one avoided that mostly. I enjoyed all of the stories and liked how they widely varied in topic, but all were united in their love for Jane Austen.

  • I have to agree with you. I liked this collection, but it wasn’t anything amazing… It basically just made me curious about some of the larger works these authors have written.

  • I’m about 250 pages into this right now and I’ve had a similar reaction. I haven’t come across anything memorable yet. I just makes me want to read Austen’s original work.

  • jeffrey

    Having read this collection twice-through and many of my particular favorites more than that, I highly recommend this. Anyone not familiar with Miss Austen’s original novels would be lost because the stories are so narrowly focused on her and her unforgettable characters. It is like a delectable sampler for the contributing authors. Having previously read about half of the authors in the anthology, I now have a good idea who I want to read more of….namely ALL of them! Okay, time for me to stop raving!

  • I thought this was quite a disappointing collection. It was sad to see how some of the authors of whom I had enjoyed Austenesque books did not translate well to short stories. Then again, some of the short stories I did not like were by authors I had been disappointed in before. So I do not know what the rule is, I don’t think I could base my selection of “Austen inspired authors worth readin” on this collection. For me, what made me feel bad was that the good and entertaining stories were overshadowed by disappointment in the collection in general when I closed the book.

  • I have no idea how I didn’t realize Laurel Ann had something to do with this book! I am going to have to read it just for that purpose (if not cause Austen and Austenesque are favorites). It’s disappointing to hear again that the authors did not transition to short story formats well, though.