One of my reading goals for this year was to read more classics, at least one each month if we’re being specific. Well, we’re into February now and I’m still yet to read one, so in a bid to push and motivate myself a little further I’ve decided to embark upon a Jane Austen project. Austen is an author beloved my many, and while I have read a handful of her novels I feel that I should attempt to read them all.
Over the coming months I will be reading her all of her novels, in addition to a selection of retellings/other fiction and non-fiction works about Austen and her characters, as well as attempting to watch as many of the film and television adaptations as I can. I really can’t wait to get started with this project; Austen is such an influential and iconic writer, and I have adored everything that I have previously read by her. I’ll be posting updates every now and then, letting you know my thoughts on everything that I have read and watch, but for now let’s get onto the books!
Sense and Sensibility (1811)
I’m sorry to admit that Sense and Sensibility is a novel that I have neither read nor watch an adaptation of, and as such I am completely unfamiliar with the story. I know that this one is loved my many, so I’m very much looking forward to getting around to it.
I’ll also be reading Sense & Sensibility by Joanna Trollope, the first in the Austen Project series, which sees a number of best-selling modern day authors retelling the original classic. I’ve heard mixed things about Trollope’s instalment, but I think it will be interesting to compare the original to a modern-day take on the story.
Pride and Prejudice (1813)
The very first classic that I read, and one of the first books that I fell head-over-heels in love with, Pride and Prejudice has long been my favourite Austen. While I read the adventures of Elizabeth and Darcey countless times when I was a teenager, I haven’t re-read the book in a good few years, so I’d definitely like revisit it this year. I think I’ll be reading this alongside listening to the audiobook, narrated by Rosamund Pike, to fully immerse myself in what is, undoubtedly, one of the greatest love stories of all time!
There are quite a number of Pride and Prejudice inspired books on my shelves that, once again, I am still yet to read. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is another instalment in the Austen Project series, and as I love Sittenfeld’s other novels I can’t wait to see her take on this classic. I’d also like to read Longbourn by Jo Baker, which sounds very Downton Abbey inspired, and Death Comes to Pemberley by P. D. James, the mystery that inspired the 2013 BBC adaptation. There’s also Lizzy Bennet’s Diary by Marcia Williams, Lady Catherine’s Necklace by Joan Aiken, and, finally, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick, the companion to the Emmy Award–winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
Mansfield Park (1814)
This is another Austen that I, sadly, have not yet read or watched an adaptation of. I have heard mixed things about Austen’s third novel, but I’m looking forward to giving it a go, particularly as I don’t have too much of an idea about the plot or the characters. I’d also like to read Mansfield Revisited by Joan Aiken.
While I have not yet read the original novel, the 2009 BBC adaptation starring Romola Garai as our heroine is something that I am greatly familiar with! Given my love of the television series, I think that it’s about time I read Austen’s classic, and I hope that I enjoy it as much as it’s on-screen counterpart.
I’ve very much looking forward to reading Emma by Alexander McCall Smith, a further instalment in the Austen Project series, as McCall Smith is fast becoming one of my favourite contemporary writers. I’d also like to watch the Emma Approved web series, which promises to be a lot of fun!
Northanger Abbey (1817)
Yes, you guessed it, another that I haven’t read! I’m really looking forward to this one, as it sounds like a bit of a departure from Austen’s other work, so I’m definitely intrigued. I’m also very much looking forward to getting to Val McDermid’s retelling of Northanger Abbey, which sounds like a bit of a gothic mystery perfect for a cold, dark night.
Finally, we’re onto Persuasion, yet another that I have not read. See, I told you that I wasn’t the most well-read when it comes to Jane Austen! I’ve got a lot of catching up to do…
And everything else…
In addition to Austen’s novels and their numerous retellings, there are also a number of Austen-inspired fiction and non-fiction titles I’d also like to read as part of this ongoing project. Austenland by Shannon Hale promises to be a fun, Austen-inspired chick-lit, and has it’s own 2013 film adaptation that I’d like to try to watch, too. As for non-fiction, I’m really looking forward to Jane Austen at Home by Lucy Worsley, What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew by Daniel Pool, Jane Austen: A Life by Claire Tomalin and, finally, Fashion in the Time of Jane Austen by Sarah Jane Downing.
Clearly, I have rather a lot of reading to do! I’m not going to set myself a time limit for this Jane Austen project, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated with my progress along the way.
What is your favourite Jane Austen novel? Are there any retellings or non-fiction titles about her work that you’d recommend?