More than 200 years after her death, Jane Austen remains a much-beloved author for English-speaking readers. If you're a Janeite in the market for a new novel to curl up with, I know just what new book you should read next, based on your favorite Jane Austen novel. These new reads will give you the same highs as a Regency-era romance, but contain brand new stories for you to fall head over heels in love with.
Set in the Regency era of the early 19th century, Jane Austen's comedies of manners have struck a chord with readers since they were first published in the 1810s. The progenitors of the 20th-century romantic comedy craze, Austen's stories about women getting married will make even the most stoic of modern-day readers laugh with their angsty antics.
Every Jane Austen novel is different, however, as any good Janeite will tell you. Pride & Prejudice is a straightforward romantic comedy about two people who initially can't stand one another, while Sense & Sensibility deals with the drama of unrequited love and second-choice partners. Similarly, Austen's heroines run the gamut, from the barely noticeable Fanny Price in Mansfield Park, to the imaginative and brave Catherine Morland in Northanger Abbey.
Check out my recommendations on the list below:
If Your Favorite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Pride & Prejudice,' Read 'The Bride Test' by Helen Hoang (May 7)
We read Pride & Prejudice for the angst of Elizabeth and Darcy's romance, which includes love, loathing, and a lot of meddling. Helen Hoang's The Bride Test, out on May 7, centers on Khai, an unmarried, autistic man, is mortified that his mother, Cô Nga, has become so desperate to find him a wife that she would pay for Esme, a young, single mother, to travel to America from Vietnam just to meet him. Readers who appreciate Darcy's awkwardness will find much to love in this follow-up to The Kiss Quotient.
If Your Favorite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Mansfield Park,' Read 'The Dragonfly Sea' by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor
The specter of British colonialism haunts Mansfield Park, which — in rare form for an Austen novel — addresses slavery through its discussion of Sir Thomas' business ventures. Colonial rule also haunts Dust author Yvonna Adhiambo Owuor's The Dragonfly Sea, which tells the coming-of-age story of Ayaana, a girl who has grown up without a father, and the murky boundaries that form when a person tries to build their own family. If you feel a strong connection to the largely unloved and abandoned Fanny Price, this is the novel you need to read right now.
If Your Favorite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Emma,' Read 'The Matchmaker's List' by Sonya Lalli
In what is perhaps Jane Austen's most lighthearted novel, the eponymous heroine makes it her personal business to make matches among her friends — for better or worse. Sonya Lalli's The Matchmaker's List centers on Raina, a young, single Indian-British woman who must walk a thin line between living an independent life and sparing her beloved, but meddlesome grandmother's feelings. Readers who enjoyed the uproariously bad turns some of Emma's pairings took will love this book.
If Your Favorite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Persuasion,' Read 'Bowlaway' by Elizabeth McCracken
Persuasion centers on a family, the Elliots of Kellynch Hall, who have fallen on hard times and must let out their country home in order to make ends meet. Similarly, Elizabeth McCracken's Bowlaway tracks the quirks of a family whose lives and livelihoods become defined by a candlepin bowling alley, which itself lies at the center of an inheritance dispute. If you love the family saga-like structure of Persuasion, you're going to hold this novel just as dear.
(Of course, if Persuasion for you means second-chance loves, check out this list of swoon-worthy books.)
If Your Favorite Jane Austen Novel Is 'Northanger Abbey,' Read 'The Lost Night' by Andrea Bartz
Jane Austen's gothic parody Northanger Abbey centers on the imaginative Catherine Morland as she investigates the invented mystery of her host's wife's recent death. In Andrea Bartz's The Lost Night, a magazine fact-checker opens a new inquiry into the supposed suicide of a friend, 10 years after the fact, when another acquaintance reveals that she remembers the night in question differently. Northanger Abbey fans will enjoy following Bartz's self-awaredly unreliable narrator as she attempts to unravel the mystery of an untimely death.