Romance, as a genre, stands on the shoulders of Jane Austen, but some books stand more directly than others. Her work has reached the levels of stories like Cinderella and Robin Hood in terms of being recognizable story archetypes adaptable to new times and places. And, of course, Austen’s novels are in the public domain, which allows for her work to be re-released directly. Authors produce sequels or re-imaginings involving the original characters, and Austen classics are frequently re-issued in new formats (for instance, as audiobooks or graphic novels).

Some of these Austen adaptations, however, are wildly more successful than others! So which Jane Austen adaptations does AAR love? Read on to find out!

For this column, I’ve pulled out adaptations which earned a DIK. If you’re interested in seeing all adaptations, including ones which weren’t so successful, you can see all of our reviews of Jane Austen Adaptations at our tag,

(Also, for Janeites: We have a Jane Austen tag, too. While the “adaptation” tag goes to books which re-use or re-interpret Austen’s plots and characters, the “Jane Austen” tag is for books with original content where Austen is important. Some of these are nonfiction; others are fictional works about fan clubs or scholars, etc. If you’re into Austen but looking for original stories, you might enjoy the stories you find here!)


Historicals

Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price (Pride and Prejudice)

Elizabeth Bennett wants nothing more than to practice law, but her mother worries more over her marital prospects. Lizzie does a lot of work behind the scenes at her father’s firm, but wants to be hired and formally trained. In order to show her father she has what it takes, Lizzie takes on a dubious case: a gentleman, Mr. Charles Bingley, has been accused of murder. Lizzie encounters Bingley, a charming fellow, and his less-than-friendly counsel, Mr. Darcy. While Darcy insists he has the case in hand, Lizzie disagrees with his methods, and conducts her own investigation. In seeking the truth, Lizzie encounters danger, lies, and conspiracies, all while continuing to bump into the frustrating and beguiling Mr. Darcy.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James

A sequel to Pride and Prejudice rather than an adaptation, our story begins one autumn night at Pemberley when Darcy and Elizabeth are preparing to hold an annual ball in his late mother’s honor. Their evening with family and friends, however, is cut short when a carriage careens down the path towards the house carrying Lizzie’s disgraced sister Lydia who shrieks that she is very much afraid that their friend Captain Martin Denny (who appeared in the original) has killed Lydia’s husband, the dastardly Mr. Wickham. However, when Darcy and others go to the scene, they discover that Denny is the one who’s dead and Mr. Wickham stammers that he killed him. Then he backtracks – what he really meant was that it was his quarrel with Mr. Denny that led him to go out into the woods, where he was killed by unknown hands. Readers of Pride and Prejudice know that Wickham truly is a dastardly human being and there is little he won’t do. But is he actually evil enough to kill the man he called his best friend? That is the question facing Mr. Darcy.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent retailer

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview

This one is also a sequel. On the wedding day of Pride and Prejudice’s Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, Caroline Bingley, who used to set her cap at Darcy with great energy, hides in the library to indulge in a fit of weeping that surprises herself. She is shocked to find that there has been a witness to her unseemly behavior: a gentleman unknown to her, who promises he will not speak of the episode. About a year later, while Caroline and her now widowed sister Louisa are staying with their brother Charles and his wife Jane at Netherfield when a messenger arrives from Pemberley. Elizabeth is feeling very low after a miscarriage, and Darcy urges her sister Jane to come for a visit. Jane and Charles set off that very night. Caroline and Louisa follow, accompanied by the messenger, who happens to be the man Caroline encountered in the library so many months ago: Robert Darcy, Darcy’s cousin from Boston, Massachusetts.

Buy it at: Amazon or your local independent retailer


Contemporaries

M/F:

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalalludin (Pride and Prejudice)

Khalid – dragged along to a bar where Ayesha is reading her daring poetry at an open mic night – while secretly fascinated and electrified, declares that he’d never date the kind of woman who’d do such a thing.  Ayesha promptly decides that if he doesn’t like women like her, he doesn’t have to meet her. Thus when they finally bump into one another, he has no idea the beautiful girl from his neighborhood and the poet who inflames his dreams are the same person, the nontraditional friend of Clara he rejected.  And Ayesha sees this bearded man in traditional dress and presumes him to be a fundamentalist with a penchant for following her instead of the kind if socially awkward man he really is.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev (Pride and Prejudice)

Neurosurgeon Trisha Raje has been consumed by the case of Emma Caine, an artist whose brain tumor is wrapped around her optical nerves; the surgery to remove it will leave Emma blind. Emma refuses to undergo the procedure even at the possible cost of her life. Chef Darcy “DJ” Caine – Emma’s brother – has been trying desperately to talk her into taking the surgery. His latest catering job happens to be cooking for the Raje family’s dinner. When Trisha comes to the kitchen, lifts the lid on DJ’s piece de resistance – his famous caramel sauce – and nearly tips it over, sparks and words fly.  Soon DJ and Trisha are bantering and falling in love. But when Julia Wickham, a documentary film-maker, offers to film Emma’s story, she spins DJ a story about the rich, unfeeling Raje family. In their version, she’s a rapist. Who’s telling the truth?

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

A Higher Education by Rosalie Stanton (Pride and Prejudice)

Elizabeth Bennet is a freshman at Meryton College. Her roommate, Jane, drags her to a party where she meets campus blowhard, Will Darcy. You know the rest.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

 

LGBTQ+:

Written in the Stars by Alexandra Bellefleur (Pride and Prejudice)

Elle is a bubbly, free-living extrovert of an astrology addict who works at a metaphysical bookshop and runs a popular astrology-centered Twitter account. Actuary Darcy is an extremely ordered introvert devoted to the soap opera Whisper Cove who Just Wants to be Left Alone after a nasty break-up drove her to live in Seattle.  Which is why she lies to Brendon that the date went well.  Which means Brendon burbles to Elle about how excited he is that Darcy likes Elle and now they can all double date together with him and his husband.  Which means Elle has to confront Darcy about her lie.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent bookstore

The Secret of You and Me by Melissa Lenhardt (Persuasion)

Captain Nora Noakes has been away from Lynchfield, Texas for eighteen years due to her navy service, having fled her repressive hometown and the watchful eyes of her stone-tough father. Now her father is dead, so she’s planning on attending the services and then leaving again for good to resume her life. But the first person she sees when she steps across the threshold of the United Methodist Church for the ceremony is Sophie Russell, the woman whom she loved – and was cruelly parted from – so many years ago.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible, or your local independent bookstore

Most Ardently by Susan Mesler-Evans (Pride and Prejudice)

Honors student Elisa Benitez – spirited, outspoken, poor, and independent – meets Darcy Fitzgerald, a mega-rich Kardashian type, in a lit class at Stevenson Community College.  They fight over Lord of the Flies, with Darcy saying it represents our current political climate and Eliza declaring that a dour outlook, which brands Darcy in Elisa’s mind as a snob and Elisa in Darcy’s mind as mildly infuriating.  Then Darcy defends Elisa to their teacher, and the wheels in her head begin to turn.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

Perfect Day by Sally Malcolm (Persuasion)

During one halcyon summer eight years earlier, Joshua Newton and Finn Callaghan met when Finn was employed to work on Charles Newton’s classic car collection at his Hanworth Hall estate on Long Island.  Josh and Finn spent as much time together as they possibly could over the couple of months that followed, falling deeply and passionately in love. But their dreams came to an abrupt end when Josh allowed his aunt Ruth to persuade him not only that he should finish his MBA at Harvard, but that for Finn to arrive in LA with a boyfriend in tow would end his dreams of an acting career before it had even begun.

Buy it at: Amazon


Alternate Reality

Heartstone by Elle Katharine White (Pride and Prejudice)

Aliza Bentaine knows full well the danger of monsters – specifically of the gryphons, though we also get treated to some lamias, dire wolves, and banshees – in her world. She’s already lost one sister to their savagery, so when she hears that Lord Merybourne has hired Riders (as in, dragon riders) to hunt down the horde, she is beyond relieved. Unfortunately, while her family might be safer now, the first dragon rider she meets, one Alastair Daired, is infuriating. He’s handsome alright, to quote Disney’s Belle, but rude and conceited, and not for her. She may be attracted to him, but that doesn’t mean she likes him.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer

Pride, Prejudice, and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith (Pride and Prejudice)

Grahame-Smith adds hordes of flesh eating zombies (delicately referred to as the Unmentionables) to this classic tale and showcases the Bennet sisters as the scourge of this nasty plague. All the Bennet girls are trained warriors, having studied in China under Shaolin Masters (Lady Catherine de Bourgh is not impressed, everyone knows the socially correct place to study zombie killing is in Japan). When Elizabeth meets Darcy at the assembly at Meryton, she is at first incensed when he says she is not handsome enough to tempt him, and pulls out a katana to give him a real cut direct. But when a troop of zombies invades, Elizabeth mows them down with lethal efficiency, leaving Darcy very impressed.

Buy it at: Amazon, Audible or your local independent retailer


Graphic Novels

Emma by Manga Classics

Fun, fast-paced, and visually engaging, Emma is a great adaptation that made me see the original in a new, clearer way. Austen fans and newbies alike should make a place for it on their keeper shelves.

Buy it at Amazon

Sense and Sensibility by Manga Classics

Level-headed Elinor falls in love with mild-mannered Edward but can’t have him, dramatic and sentimental Marianne falls in love with dashing Willoughby but can’t have him, and both sisters end up happy, although Marianne not in the way she expects. This adaptation brings the setting, the characters, and much of Austen’s original text to vivid life.

Buy it at Amazon


Audio Versions

(Note: these were reviewed by Caz elsewhere)

Sense and Sensibility narrated by Rosalyn Landor

Landor is supremely suited to material of this sort, her beautifully modulated tones, flawless pronunciation and precise intonation being the perfect method of conveyance for Jane Austen’s impeccable language and biting wit. Her understanding of the text shines through. The two heroines are very clearly differentiated, Elinor’s soft, deliberate manner of speech in direct contrast to Marianne’s more fervently emotional style of delivery. Her pacing is spot-on, and each of Jane Austen’s many secondary characters sound more or less exactly as I’ve heard them in my head while reading the book.

Buy it at Amazon

Pride and Prejudice narrated by Kate Reading

Anyone who has listened to some of Kate Reading’s more recent recordings in the historical romance genre will recognise in this interpretation the beginnings of the way she vocalises romantic heroes – and given that I adore her hero voices, the fact that Darcy sounds like one of them is what gives this recording a slight edge for me.

Buy it at Amazon


Interested in finding more books AAR Loves..?

Check out these posts:

Yes We Can! Our Favourite Activist Heroines

Romances featuring Refugee Heroines

Romancing it Royally – Some of our favourite royal romances

AAR Loves… Historical Romances featuring scientist heroines

AAR Loves… Romances featuring music and musicians

AAR Loves… Romances featuring realistic parent/child relationships

AAR Loves… Partners to Lovers romances – Part One (Military, law enforcement etc.)

AAR Loves… Partners to Lovers romances – Part Two

AAR Loves… Seasoned Romance

Five Baseball Romances Worth Your Time

AAR Loves… Modern Historicals

AAR Loves… Representation of Disability and Chronic Illness in Romance (Part One)

AAR Loves… Representation of Disability and Chronic Illness in Romance (Part Two)

AAR Loves… Romances featuring marriages in trouble

AAR Loves… The Best Slow Burn Romances

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I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.