Alert Janeites Victoria and Lisa sent us a link to an article in the Globe and Mail about “the next Jane Austen.” Before our Gentle Readers rise as one, pitchforks and torches in hand, the author of the piece is doing much what we do when we post our occasional “what to read when you’ve read all of Jane Austen” posts (one here, another here). In fact, the four authoresses suggested have all appeared in those posts.
They can look to the writers whose books were beloved by Jane Austen herself, the early women novelists who laid the groundwork, both stylistically and socially, for Austen’s achievement. These 18th-century authors were blending satire and sentiment before Austen ever put pen to paper, and their personal lives – invariably more dramatic than Austen’s – would appear positively racy if given the Hollywood treatment.
Austen paid homage to some of these writers in her own novels, borrowing character names, plot contrivances and (in the case of Northanger Abbey) the entire premise of her book. And who are we to argue with Jane Austen’s literary opinions?
We are all enthusiasm for such a reading program (though we wonder why the article subhead says “rereading Emma for the 32nd time” like it’s a bad thing). Since it’s Monday Ebooks, we would like to point out a few places where ebook versions of these authors’ works might be downloaded or accessed for free.
Girlebooks has free ebooks by Ann Radcliffe, Charlotte Lennox, and Fanny Burney available for download. Manybooks has free ebooks by all four authors available (make sure to search for “Eliza Fowler Haywood” to find her books). Project Gutenberg also has free versions available of books by all four authors. Can’t beat the price, so give them a try!