9 Jane Austen Retellings You Might Not Have Read Yet
The worst part about loving an author who isn't around anymore is that, eventually, you get to the point where you have read everything they have ever written — but that doesn't mean you can't continue to enjoy their best novels in new and exciting ways. If you're an Austenite who is always on the hunt for the next Pride and Prejudice, fear not, because there are new Jane Austen retellings you haven't read yet hitting the shelf every year.
Long before television and film became obsessed with the reboot, literature has been revamping, remaking, and retelling classic stories for newer audiences. For starters, there are countless adaptations of fables and fairy tales — like Angela Carter's beloved The Bloody Chamber collection and Gregory Maguire's adult fantasy novels — that use the bones of age-old stories to flesh out wholly new narratives. There are probably just as many retellings of William Shakespeare's famous plays, including Margaret Atwood's Hag-Seed, Jane Smiley's A Thousand Acres, and E.K. Johnston's Exit Pursued by a Bear. For generations, authors have been telling and retelling the stories of the Homer and Brothers Grimm, of Charles Dickens and F. Scott Fitzgerald, of Charlotte Brontë and Mary Shelley, and, of course, of Jane Austen.
From diverse modern-day retellings and contemporary romances to fantasy adaptations and science fiction variations, here are nine new books based on Jane Austen novels that you might not have read yet.
'Pride' by Ibi Zoboi
Class, cultural identity, and gentrification take center stage in this retelling of Pride and Prejudice which stars all characters of color. Set in modern-day Brooklyn, it follows Zuri Benitez, a daughter, sister, aspiring college student, and proud resident of Bushwick who is struggling to find her new place in the rapidly changing neighborhood. Things only get more complicated when the wealthy Darcy family moves in across the street, and Zuri begins to develop feelings for the arrogant but increasingly irresistible Darius.
'By the Book' by Julia Sonneborn
In this modern take on Persuasion, English professor Anne Corey is determined to secure tenure at her college. To keep her life on track, all she has to do is get a book deal and secure a promotion, but when her first love and ex-fiancé Adam Martinez gets hired as the college's new president, things in her personal, professional, and romantic life take a series of unexpected turns.
'A Higher Education' by Rosalie Stanton
Things get hot and heavy in this sexy take on Pride and Prejudice. A contemporary retelling starring two 20-something college freshman — the fierce and unapologetically feminist Elizabeth Bennet and the wealthy and snobbish Will Darcy — whose initial head-butting evolves into a seriously steamy sexual relationship, A Higher Education updates Austen's classic love story for the modern world.
'Dragonshadow' by Elle Katharine White
In Heartstone, Elle Katharine White sets Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in a fantastical world with dragons, direwolves, and all manner of fantastic beasts. Dragonshadow returns to that magical world to continue the story of sparring lovers Aliza and Alastair, as they face their most dangerous monster yet.
'The Jane Austen Project' by Kathleen A. Flynn
If you've always dreamed of reading a new Jane Austen novel, this book may be as close as you can get. In The Jane Austen Project, two people travel back in time to diagnose the author's fatal illness and steal her unfinished novel. In the year 1815, they struggle with societal expectations, imposed gender roles, and their growing feelings for one another.
'Ayesha At Last' by Uzma Jalaluddin
Ayesha Shamsi dreams of being a poet in this modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice, and although she is lonely, the last thing she wants is for her Muslim family to arrange a marriage for her. Or at least, so she thinks, until she meets the smart, handsome, and infuriating Khalid, a man she can't help but be attracted to. But when Khalid gets engaged to Ayesha's younger cousin Hafsa, Ayesha has to reckon with her own feelings about her family, her religion, the man she might love, and herself.
'Jane and the Waterloo Map' by Stephanie Barron
While Stephanie Barron's series isn't a direct retelling of Jane Austen's novels, the Regency-era mysteries do star the literary legend as a crime solving sleuth. In the latest installment, the Pride and Prejudice author stumbles upon a dying man whose last words — "Waterloo map" — send her on a wild and potentially deadly treasure hunt.
'Mary B' by Katherine J. Chen
Mary takes center stage in this Pride and Prejudice retelling that explores the surprising life of the middle Bennet sister and offers a feminist twist on an old classic. Set before, during, and after the events of Austen's original novel, Mary's story is one of a woman struggling against societal norms for freedom, independence, and power over her own future.
'Unmarriageable' by Soniah Kamal (Jan. 15)
This charming retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan follows Alys Binat, an English literature teacher and Jane Austen fan who, like her literary hero, dreams of much more than marriage and children. Haunted by a scandal that destroyed their fortune and reputations, none of the Binat sisters seem like their headed down the aisle. That is, until the family is invited to the biggest wedding their town has seen in years, and Alys's older sister Jena catches the eye of a single and successful entrepreneur. As the family waits to find out if Jena will secure a proposal from Fahad "Bungles" Bingla, Alys begins to realize that her first impression of his friend, the snobby Valentine Darsee, may have been all wrong — and so was her dismissal of the possibility of marriage.