Crazy About Jane

Posted on August 15, 2016

by April S

Why are people around the world so crazy about Jane Austen? After over 200 years it seems like her popularity would wane. Yet, year after year new fans emerge and loyal Janeites continue re-reading her work over and over again. Why? Maybe they hope to uncover another morsel of wisdom hidden in the depths of her novels? Or maybe people simply love to get lost in the tightly woven character-driven storylines. The great thing about Jane Austen’s work is that it’s easy to find something to love, because she writes with sincerity and humanity with a dash of wit thrown in from time to time to keep us on our toes. For this reason, and so many more, there have been numerous books, films, mini-series and creative spin-offs inspired by her writing.

The Divine Jane: Reflections on Austen from The Morgan Library & Museum is a short documentary film featuring video commentary from Fran Lebowitz, Harriet Walter, Cornel West, Siri Hustvedt, Sandy Lerner and Colm Toibin on their thoughts regarding Jane Austen’s writing.

Jane Austen’s Works

Sense and Sensibility

In its marvelously perceptive portrayal of two young women in love, “Sense and Sensibility” is the answer to those critics and readers who believe that Jane Austen’s novels, despite their perfection of form and tone, lack strong feeling. Its two heroines—so utterly unlike each other–both undergo the most violent passions when they are separated from the men they love. What differentiates them, and gives this extroardinary book its complexity and brilliance, is the way each expresses her suffering: Marianne–young, impetuous, ardent–falls into paroxysms of grief when she is rejected by the dashing John Willoughby; while her sister, Elinor—wiser, more sensible, more self-controlled—masks her despair when it appears that Edward Ferrars is to marry the mean-spirited and cunning Lucy Steele. All, of course, ends happily—but not until Elinor’s “sense” and Marianne’s “sensibility” have equally worked to reveal the profound emotional life that runs beneath the surface of Austen’s immaculate and irresistible art. Available in Print, Audiobook, Pocket Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook and DVD (BBC mini-series starring David Morrissey, Janet McTeer, Hattie Morahan and Charity Wakefield).

If you like “Sense and Sensibility” by Jane Austen, then you may also like “Sense & Sensibility” by Joanna Trollope (a modern retelling of the original classic) available in Print and Large Print.

Pride and Prejudice

When Elizabeth Bennet first meets eligible bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy, she thinks him arrogant and conceited; he is indifferent to her good looks and lively mind. When she later discovers that Darcy has involved himself in the troubled relationship between his friend Bingley and her beloved sister Jane, she is determined to dislike him more than ever. In the sparkling comedy of manners that follows, Jane Austen shows the folly of judging by first impressions and superbly evokes the friendships, gossip and snobberies of provincial middle-class life. Available in Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook, DVD (movie starring Kiera Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen) and DVD (BBC mini-series starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth).

If you like “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, then you may also like … “Death Comes to Pemberley” by P.D. James available in Print, Large Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook and DVD (Masterpiece Mystery starring Matthew Rhys, Anna Maxwell Martin and Matthew Goode).

Mansfield Park

Begun in 1811 at the height of Jane Austen’s writing powers and published in 1814, “Mansfield Park” marks a conscious break from the tone of her first three novels, “Northanger Abbey,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and “Pride and Prejudice,” the last of which Austen came to see as “rather too light.” Fanny Price is unlike any of Austen’s previous heroines, a girl from a poor family brought up in a splendid country house and possessed of a vast reserve of moral fortitude and imperturbability. She is very different from Elizabeth Bennet, but is the product of the same inspired imagination. Available in Print, Large Print, eBook, eAudiobook and DVD (Masterpiece film starring Billie Piper, Blake Ritson and Jemma Redgrave).

If you like “Mansfield Park” by Jane Austen, then you may also like “Mansfield Park revisited: a Jane Austen entertainment” by Joan Aiken (sequel to Jane Austen’s fascinating novel) available in Print.


Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her. So begins Jane Austen’s comic masterpiece “Emma.” In “Emma,” Austen’s prose brilliantly elevates, in the words of Virginia Woolf, the trivialities of day-to-day existence, of parties, picnics, and country dances of early-nineteenth-century life in the English countryside to an unrivaled level of pleasure for the reader. At the center of this world is the inimitable Emma Woodhouse, a self-proclaimed matchmaker who, by the novel’s conclusion, just may find herself the victim of her own best intentions. Available in Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook and DVD (BBC mini-series starring Jonny Lee Miller, Michael Gambon, Romola Garai and Tamsin Greig).

If you like “Emma” by Jane Austen, then you may also like “Emma: a modern retelling” by Alexander McCall Smith available in Print and eBook.


At twenty-­seven, Anne Elliot is no longer young and has few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she had been persuaded by her friend Lady Russell to break off her engagement to Frederick Wentworth, a handsome naval captain with neither fortune nor rank. What happens when they encounter each other again is movingly told in Jane Austen’s last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, “Persuasion” is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension, but, above all, it is a love story tinged with the heartache of missed opportunities. Available in Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook and DVD (BBC film starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones).

If you like “Persuasion” by Jane Austen, then you may also like “The Cookbook Collector” by Allegra Goodman available in Print, Large Print, Audiobook, eBook and eAudiobook.

Northanger Abbey

Jane Austen’s first novel, “Northanger Abbey” – published posthumously in 1818 – tells the story of Catherine Morland and her dangerously sweet nature, innocence, and sometime self-delusion. Though Austen’s fallible heroine is repeatedly drawn into scrapes while vacationing at Bath and during her subsequent visit to Northanger Abbey, Catherine eventually triumphs, blossoming into a discerning woman who learns truths about love, life, and the heady power of literature. The satirical Northanger Abbey pokes fun at the gothic novel while earnestly emphasizing caution to the female sex. Available in Print, Pocket Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook, DVD (Masterpiece film starring Felicity Jones, J.J. Feild, Carey Mulligan and William Beck) and eVideo.

If you like “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen, then you may also like “The Woman in White” by Wilkie Collins available in Print, eBook, eAudiobook and DVD (BBC film starring Tara Fitzgerald, James Wilby, Andrew Lincoln and Justine Waddell).

Lady Susan/The Watsons/Sanditon

These three short works show Jane Austen experimenting with a variety of different literary styles, from melodrama to satire, and exploring a range of social classes and settings.

Lady Susan Depicts an unscrupulous coquette, toying with the affections of several men. Available in Print, eBook and eAudiobook.

The Watsons Is a delightful fragment, whose spirited heroine Emma Watson finds her marriage opportunities limited by poverty and pride. Available in Print, eBook and eAudiobook.

Sanditon Written in the last months of Austen’s life, this uncompleted novel, set in a newly established seaside resort, offers a glorious cast of hypochondriacs and speculators, and shows an author contemplating the great social upheavals of the Industrial Revolution with a mixture of scepticism and amusement. Available in Print, eBook and eAudiobook.

Modern Adaptations of Jane Austen Novels

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

A mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. Available in Print, Audiobook, eBook, Graphic Novel, DVD and Blu-Ray. If the movie peaks your interest, then you may want to check out the soundtrack as well.

If you like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, then you may also like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls” by Steve Hockensmith available in Print, Audiobook and eBook.

Austenland by Shannon Hale

Jane is a young New York woman who can never seem to find the right man-perhaps because of her secret obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of “Pride and Prejudice.” When a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-obsessed women, however, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become more real than she ever could have imagined. Is this total immersion in a fake Austenland enough to make Jane kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own? The beloved novel set at a Jane Austen fantasy camp for women, from New York Times bestselling author and Newbery Honor winner Shannon Hale. Available in Print, Audiobook, eBook, eAudiobook and DVD (movie starring Jane Seymour, Keri Russell, Jennifer Coolidge, Jj Feild, Bret McKenzie and Georgia King).

If you like “Austenland” by Shannon Hale, then you may also like “Midnight in Austenland” by Shannon Hale available in Print, eBook and eAudiobook.

Becoming Jane: The Wit and Wisdom of Jane Austen edited by Anne Newgarden

The young Jane Austen wishes to be a writer. Her mother thinks otherwise. Although she is offered many marriage proposals she accepts none until the mischevious Thomas Lefroy shows up and turns her world around. At first she finds him ignorant and self centered but as she gets to know him, they start to flirt and eventually fall in love. Thomas’ relatives disagree with the match and threaten to disinherit him if he marries her. Jane’s mother also disagrees with the match. As a result of this, Thomas tries to convince Jane to runaway with him. Instead, Jane stays with her family and ends her affair with Lefroy. She begins to write some of her greatest works of all time. Lefroy becomes the inspiration for Mr. Darcy in the novel, Pride and Prejudice. Available in Print, DVD (movie starring Anne Hathaway and James McAvoy) and Blu-Ray.

If you like “Becoming Jane” by Anne Newgarden, then you may also like “Becoming Jane Eyre” by Sheila Kohler available in Print, Large Print and eAudiobook.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

The devastatingly self-aware, laugh-out-loud account of a year in the life of a thirty-something Singleton on a permanent doomed quest for self-improvement. Caught between the joys of Singleton fun, and the fear of dying alone and being found three weeks later half eaten by an Alsatian; tortured by Smug Married friends asking, “How’s your love life?” with lascivious, yet patronizing leers, Bridget resolves to: reduce the circumference of each thigh by 1.5 inches, visit the gym three times a week not just to buy a sandwich, form a functional relationship with a responsible adult and learn to program the VCR. With a blend of flighty charm, existential gloom, and endearing self-deprecation, “Bridget Jones’s Diary” has touched a raw nerve with millions of readers the world round. Read it and laugh—before you cry, “Bridget Jones is me!” Available in Print, eBook and DVD (movie starring Renee Zellweger, Colin Firth and Hugh Grant).

If you like “Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding, then you may also like “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld available in Print, Large Print, Audiobook, Pocket Audiobook, eBook and eAudiobook.

The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler

A sublime comedy of contemporary manners, this is the novel Jane Austen might well have written had she lived in twenty-first century California. Nothing ever moves in a straight line in Karen Joy Fowler’s fiction, and in her latest, the complex dance of modern love has never been so devious or so much fun. Six Californians join to discuss Jane Austen’s novels. Over the six months they meet, marriages are tested, affairs begin, unsuitable arrangements become suitable, and love happens. With her finely sighted eye for the frailties of human behavior and her finely tuned ear for the absurdities of social intercourse, Fowler has never been wittier nor her characters more appealing. The result is a delicious dissection of modern relationships. Dedicated Austenites will delight in unearthing the echoes of Austen that run through the novel, but most readers will simply enjoy the vision and voice that, despite two centuries of separation, unite two great writers of brilliant social comedy. Available in Print, Audiobook, eAudiobook, DVD (movie starring Kathy Baker, Maria Bello, Marc Blucas, Emily Blunt, Amy Brenneman, Hugh Dancy, Maggie Grace, Jimmy Smits, Kevin Zegers and Lynn Redgrave) and Blu-Ray.

If you like “The Jane Austen Book Club” by Karen Joy Fowler, then you may also like “The Reading Group” by Elizabeth Noble available in Print and eBook.

Learn More About Jane Austen And Her World

The Real Jane Austen: a Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne

Acclaimed literary biographer Paula Byrne provides the most intimate and revealing portrait yet of a beloved but complex novelist. Just as letters and tokens in Jane Austen’s novels often signal key turning points in the narrative, Byrne explores the small things – a scrap of paper, a gold chain, an ivory miniature – that held significance in Austen’s personal and creative life. Byrne transports us to different worlds, from the East Indies to revolutionary Paris, and to different events, from a high society scandal to a case of petty shoplifting. In this ground-breaking biography, Austen is set on a wider stage than ever before, revealing a well-traveled and politically aware writer – important aspects of her artistic development that have long been overlooked. “The Real Jane Austen” is a fresh, compelling, and surprising biography of the author of some of our most enduring classic books – from “Pride and Prejudice” to “Sense and Sensibility,” “Emma” to “Persuasion” – and a vivid evocation of the world that shaped her. Available in Print, eBook and eAudiobook.

Jane Austen’s England by Roy & Lesley Adkins

Jane Austen, arguably the greatest novelist of the English language, wrote brilliantly about the gentry and aristocracy of two centuries ago in her accounts of young women looking for love. “Jane Austen’s England” explores the customs and culture of the real England of her everyday existence depicted in her classic novels as well as those by Byron, Keats, and Shelley. Drawing upon a rich array of contemporary sources, including many previously unpublished manuscripts, diaries, and personal letters, Roy and Lesley Adkins vividly portray the daily lives of ordinary people, discussing topics as diverse as birth, marriage, religion, hygiene and superstitions. Available in Print.

Jane Austen: A Life Revealed by Catherine Reef

Jane Austen’s popularity never seems to fade. She has hordes of devoted fans, and there have been numerous adaptations of her life and work. But who was Jane Austen? The writer herself has long remained a mystery. And despite the resonance her work continues to have for teens, there has never been a young adult trade biography on Austen. Catherine Reef changes that with this highly readable account. She takes an intimate peek at Austen’s life and innermost feelings, interweaving her narrative with well-crafted digests of each of Austen’s published novels. The end result is a book that is almost as much fun to read as Jane’s own work—and truly a life revealed. Includes bibliography and index. Available in Print and eBook.

The Jane Austen Pocket Bible by Holly Ivins

The perfect gift for a literary lover. Have you ever dreamt of Darcy? Wished for Wentworth? Or even envied the womanly wiles of Emma? Perhaps you want to know a bit more about the author who so accurately describes the ins and outs of courtship, and whose novels have never been out of print since they were first published nearly 200 years ago? If your nodding in excitement reading this then the “Jane Austen Pocket Bible” is one for you. This handy little book guides you through Austen’s beloved novels, explaining Regency manners, the class system, the importance of inheritance, and the delicate matter of landing a husband. Full of fascinating trivia about the world of Austen’s novels this book also contains details of Austen’s life, the writers who inspired her, the country estates which make up the settings for her romantic adventures, and details on the countless film and television adaptations which have been made. With facts on genteel dancing, a plan for an Austen dinner party and words of wisdom from the lady herself, it’s a must-have for every self-confessed Jane fan or those making their first foray into Austen’s carefully crafted world. Available in eBook.

A Jane Austen Education: How Six Novels Taught Me About Love, Friendship, and the Things That Really Matter by William Deresiewicz

Austen scholar William Deresiewicz turns to the author’s novels to reveal the remarkable life lessons hidden within. With humor and candor, Deresiewicz employs his own experiences to demonstrate the enduring power of Austen’s teachings. Progressing from his days as an immature student to a happily married man, Deresiewicz’s A Jane Austen Education is the story of one man’s discovery of the world outside himself. Available in Print and eBook.

All Roads Lead to Austen: A year-long journey with Jane by Amy Elizabeth Smith

With a suitcase full of Jane Austen novels en español, Amy Elizabeth Smith set off on a yearlong Latin American adventure: a traveling book club with Jane. In six unique, unforgettable countries, she gathered book-loving new friends— taxi drivers and teachers, poets and politicians— to read “Emma,” “Sense and Sensibility,” and “Pride and Prejudice.” Whether sharing rooster beer with Guatemalans, joining the crowd at a Mexican boxing match, feeding a horde of tame iguanas with Ecuadorean children, or tangling with argumentative booksellers in Argentina, Amy came to learn what Austen knew all along: that we’re not always speaking the same language— even when we’re speaking the same language. “All Roads Lead to Austen” celebrates the best of what we love about books and revels in the pleasure of sharing a good book— with good friends. Available in eBook.

Jane Austen Biography from A & E Television Networks

“In six extraordinary works she cast her ironic but ultimately sympathetic eye on the life of privilege in Georgian England. But her work was not appreciated until well after her lifetime. Jane Austen’s books have been in print continuously for over two centuries. They have been made into movies sometimes several times in a single year. Her wit and wisdom remain undimmed though the world she chronicled has long since disappeared. And her incredible artistic achievement is all the more impressive when one considers that she wrote her two greatest novels Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility before she turned 21. From her brief life to her place in the literary canon BIOGRAPHY® draws on interviews with experts and Austen’s own words to tell her unique tale (Amazon).” Available in DVD.

Jane Austen Country: The Life & Times of Jane Austen

Learn more about Jane Austen and her own fascinating life at a time in England’s history. Take a tour around the English landscape and see the lovely locations that inspired Jane Austen’s novels. Available in eVideo.

Jane Austen Study & Teaching Guides

The Complete Guide to Teaching Jane AustenPBS / WGBH

Teaching Jane AustenBritish Council

Study Guide for Pride and PrejudiceGlencoe / McGrawHill

Teacher’s Notes for PersuasionPenguin Readers

Teacher’s Notes for EmmaPenguin Readers

Teacher’s Notes for Sense and SensibilityPenguin Readers

Teacher’s Notes for Northanger AbbeyPenguin Readers

Mansfield Park GuideShmoop Editorial Team

Jane Austen Selected ResourcesMasterpiece / PBS

Articles About Jane Austen’s Works

Author Pamela Aares on the enduring appeal of Jane AustenUSA Today

Joanna Trollope: What Jane Austen Knew About ClassThe NewStatesman

A World Without End For Fans of Jane AustenThe New York Times

Finding Passion in Jane AustenTime

What Would Jane Do? How a 19th century spinster serves as a moral compass in today’s worldThe Wall Street Journal

Is Jane Austen Overhyped? Evaluating her literary merit amid the anniversary reverenceSlate

A Lively Mind: Your Brain On Jane AustenNPR

How Jane Austen’s Emma Changed the Face of FictionThe Guardian

What Do Jane Austen’s Novels Have to Tell Us About Love and Life Today?The New York Times Book Review

The Secret of the Jane Austen Industry: What accounts for the writer’s enduring appeal? A voice with a modern sensibility, says Alexander McCall Smith – The Wall Street Journal

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