top of page
  • Writer's pictureClyve Rose

What’s your favourite Jane Austen novel?

Perhaps you don’t have one - or, at least, not yet. Well, I do. I even have a favourite Austen adaptation - for each novel.

How many novels did Jane Austen actually write?

It surprises many people to know that Jane Austen only wrote six full novels during her lifetime. Let’s all please remember that this was the early 1800s. No word processors - not even a typewriter. She wrote her stories (including hundreds of pages of plays and short stories now known as her ‘juvenailia’ because she penned them as a young girl) the very old-fashioned way: With a quill and ink.

Let’s also remember that she died fairly young, aged only 41 years old. I can assure that not all novelists can whip up hundreds of pages - and thousands of words - in a matter of weeks. At least not if our readers want our works to be any good. There are authors I know who can. I am unfortunately not one of them. The King's Mistress, for example, took nearly two years to create.

Jane Austen's six major novels, in order of release (not creation), include:

  1. Sense and Sensibility (1811)

  2. Pride and Prejudice (1813)

  3. Mansfield Park (1814)

  4. Emma (1815)

  5. Northanger Abbey (1818, published posthumously)

  6. Persuasion (1818, published posthumously)

One of my favourite ‘shorts’ is Austen’s posthumously published epistolary novel, Lady Susan (published as late as 1871). I love it mainly for its charmingly unlikeable heroine, and the rather ‘himbo-ish’ hero, Reginald. I happen to think the true hero of the piece is Mrs Vernon, who stands up to Lady Susan in a manner that might impress even Pride & Prejudice's Lady Catherine….but I digress.

So, what’s my favourite Jane Austen novel? Persuasion - for the love letter alone, this book and its hero will always have my heart. If you've not read it, I'll not spoil it, but I've based many a hero on the inspirations drawn from her most mature tale. Any naval personalities I've written, have been inspired thus.

Favourite Adaptation?

My favourite adaptation, however, is a tie between Pride & Prejudice (1995 - yes, the Colin Firth one kids, with that dramatic lake scene) - and Northanger Abbey with JJ Feild, who I feel nailed his heroic Henry Tilney and actually matched his character very well from the books. This is one of the things I look out for when my favourite Regency works are adapted for the screen. Not necessarily that all scenes and dialogue are replicated exactly, but that the spirit of the novel, and the main characters, come through as strongly as I feel them when I read - and re-read (as I often do). I'm aware this is wholly arbitrary, but that's what makes the world of Janeites so much fun - all the differing opinions of the various versions.

Northanger what???

Northanger Abbey isn't one of Austen’s more well-known novels, but it pokes gentle fun at Gothic readers - and Gothic authors (Charlotte Brontë, can you hear Ms Austen out on your moors)???

For this sweetly-spiced satire alone, I love the book and the film as well. The adaptation I enjoy the most also stars a young Carey Mulligan who - again - embodies her grasping villainess well from the novelised version. That said, I try not to demonise the women of Austen too much. Women had so few options in Regency England.

When it came time to pen my contribution to this Austen-inspired charity anthology, I already knew my heroine would be drawn from Northanger Abbey. I hope you like my Miss Tilney, and her dashing hero. He’s not meant to be a Darcy, or a Wentworth. He’s my own creation, but I followed Austen’s model as closely as I could. I even poked fun at the author. (What’s Austen without a little satire?)

So, what happens after Northanger Abbey?

If you’ve not read Austen’s book, allow me to catch you up (no spoilers though).

Young Catherine Morland is enticed away from her friends at Bath to reside at the forbidding (and possibly haunted) Northanger Abbey, where she has a romantic adventure or two of her own.

As so often happens at old, crumbling abbeys in Gothic masterpieces, Catherine loses her heart to a local curate, whose sister resides at the abbey. She grows close to the sister, becoming her only companion, until she's forced to leave under grave suspicions. That’s Austen’s story in a nutshell.

My story picks up the tale of the curate’s sister. Their forbidding father insists his daughter accompany him to the home of an acquaintance. Their host resides in an old priory, known as The Leys. Seeing as my heroine was left friendless and alone at the end of Austen's novel, it seems only fair then, that the lady - Miss Tilney - finds her happily ever after too, don’t you think?

So off she goes to The Leys Priory, where an old friend awaits, with a question on his lips… Read your free extract here.

25 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

תגובה אחת

24 ביולי 2023

Naturally.....Loving Them All ..EACH has their own specific charm. Mine is Also "Persuasion". This take is close to My ❤️. Veronica 💕

bottom of page