The best books inspired by Jane Austen

Why am I passionate about this?

I read Pride and Prejudice for the first time when I was ten years old, and I loved the book so much that I reread it a few months later. In my teenage years and early twenties, I thought that I was like Elizabeth Bennet—she’s witty and opinionated, goes her own way, and loves to read books and play the pianoforte. As I grew older, I realized that in many ways I'm more like Mary Bennet (social situations can be difficult!). Jane Austen always offers me new insights into my life, and her stories have become a sort of mythology, providing fertile ground from which writers and filmmakers have created their own works.


I wrote...

Book cover of The Secret Life of Miss Mary Bennet

What is my book about?

Mary Bennet is the dull, plain, overlooked sister from Pride and Prejudice. Which means she’s also the last person anyone would suspect to solve a murder.

Upon the death of her father, Mary is invited to stay with a distant relative, Lady Trafford, at Castle Durrington. But once she arrives, she’s faced with one mystery after another. Who is Lady Trafford really, and what is she hiding? Do her secrets and manipulations place the small seaside community at risk of an invasion by Napoleon Bonaparte? Always curious, Mary sets out to discover the answers. But when she finds the dead body of a would-be thief she outed prior to her father’s funeral, she jeopardizes her position at the castle and her family’s good name in her quest for the truth.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of Unmarriageable

Katherine Cowley Why did I love this book?

I was hooked on Unmarriageable from the very first page. This book is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice in modern-day Pakistan, featuring an independently-minded teacher, Alys Binat, who wants to broaden the perspective of her female students and who fully intends to never marry. Instead of an assembly at Longbourn, we meet Mr. Bingla and Mr. Darsee at a fabulous Pakistani wedding. All the characters are brilliant (though my personal favorite is probably the Charlotte character, who is also a teacher at Alys’ school). The book illustrates that Jane Austen’s themes are still relevant today, and explores the complicated nature of families and the necessity of finding your way as a woman in spite of restrictions and societal expectations.

By Soniah Kamal,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Unmarriageable as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“This inventive retelling of Pride and Prejudice charms.”—People
 
“A fun, page-turning romp and a thought-provoking look at the class-obsessed strata of Pakistani society.”—NPR

Alys Binat has sworn never to marry—until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.

A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys…


Book cover of The Jane Austen Society

Katherine Cowley Why did I love this book?

Jane Austen wrote and revised most of her novels in a cottage lent to her by her brother in Chawton, England. This book is a fictional account of a group of individuals in post-World War II Chawton who are all lost—or have experienced great loss. They band together in an attempt to save Jane Austen’s home from destruction. I loved getting to experience the story from each of the character’s perspectives, and the author’s prose is delightful. This novel is a testament to how people from all walks of life have been changed by Jane Austen, and how reading Jane Austen can save us.

By Natalie Jenner,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Jane Austen Society as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

'A wonderful book, a wonderful read' Karen Joy Fowler, bestselling author of The Jane Austen Book Club

Only a few months after the end of the Second World War, a new battle is beginning in the little village of Chawton. Once the final home of Jane Austen, the Chawton estate is dwindling, and the last piece of Austen's heritage is at risk of being sold to the highest bidder...

Drawn together by their love of her novels, eight very different people - from a local farmer to a glamorous film star - must unite to attempt something…


Book cover of The Annotated Pride and Prejudice

Katherine Cowley Why did I love this book?

This is a brilliant book that you will want to read in print—not digitally—because, for every single page of Jane Austen’s classic novel, there is an accompanying page of annotations. This is a great book if you want to dive deeper into Pride and Prejudice. The annotations include pictures of carriages and locations in the novel; historical details that helped me understand property laws, relationships, and societal expectations; definitions and connotations of how words were used in Austen’s time, and much more. It’s written in a very readable style, and you can either read it from start to finish or skip around to your favorite passages.

By Jane Austen, David M. Shapard,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Annotated Pride and Prejudice as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Product Description This first-ever fully annotated edition of one of the most beloved novels in the world is a sheer delight for Jane Austen fans. Here is the complete text of Pride and Prejudice with more than 2,300 annotations on facing pages, including: Explanations of historical context Rules of etiquette, class differences, the position of women, legal and economic realities, leisure activities, and more. Citations from Austen’s life, letters, and other writings Parallels between the novel and Austen’s experience are revealed, along with writings that illuminate her beliefs and opinions. Definitions and clarifications Archaic words, words still in use whose…


Book cover of For Darkness Shows the Stars

Katherine Cowley Why did I love this book?

Not only do I love Jane Austen, but I’ve always been a huge fan of both young adult novels and science fiction. This book combines all three interests! This retelling of Persuasion is set in a futuristic science fiction world in which class systems are alive and well and technology is being suppressed. I loved the second-chance romance between Elliot and Kai and the inventive use of the setting to create societal commentary.

By Diana Peterfreund,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked For Darkness Shows the Stars as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 12, 13, 14, and 15.

What is this book about?

It's been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.

Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family's estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot's estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain…


Book cover of Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of)

Katherine Cowley Why did I love this book?

This is the published script for a play that I desperately want to see if it’s ever performed near me. Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) retells Pride and Prejudice from the perspective of the servants, who don costumes to act out the scenes of the story, sing karaoke to modern music, and provide hilarious and sometimes ruthless commentary on the characters, their relationship, and what it all means. While sometimes irreverent, the play manages to be both parody and homage to this great novel.

By Isobel McArthur,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pride and Prejudice* (*sort of) as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Love's irrelevant - we're talking about marriage.'

This unique take on Jane Austen's beloved novel is an adaptation like no other, drawing on over two hundred years of romantic pop history, and featuring six young women with a story to tell.

You might have seen them before, emptying the chamber pots and sweeping ash from the grate; the overlooked and the undervalued making sure those above stairs find their happy ending.

Of course, these women have always been running the show - after all, 'You can't have a whirlwind romance without clean bedding' - but now the servants are also…


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Shahrazad's Gift

By Gretchen McCullough,

Book cover of Shahrazad's Gift

Gretchen McCullough Author Of Shahrazad's Gift

New book alert!

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a fiction writer and currently live in Cairo, where I have lived for over twenty years. I noticed that the way I started telling stories was influenced by learning Arabic and by listening to the stories of the people in the city. My interest in Arabic also led me to read Arabic literature, like A Thousand and One Nights.   

Gretchen's book list on books influenced by Thousand and One Nights

What is my book about?

Shahrazad’s Gift is a collection of linked short stories set in contemporary Cairo — magical, absurd, and humorous.

The author focuses on the off-beat, little-known stories, far from CNN news: a Swedish belly dancer who taps into the Oriental fantasies of her clientele; a Japanese woman studying Arabic, driven mad by the noise and chaos of the city; a frustrated Egyptian housewife who becomes obsessed by the activities of her Western gay neighbor; an American journalist who covered the civil war in Beirut who finds friendship with her Egyptian dentist. We also meet the two protagonists of McCullough's Confessions of a Knight Errant, before their escapades in that story.

These stories are told in the tradition of A Thousand and One Nights.

Shahrazad's Gift

By Gretchen McCullough,

What is this book about?

Shahrazad's Gift is a collection of linked short stories set in contemporary Cairo-magical, absurd and humorous. The author focuses on the off-beat, little-known stories, far from CNN news: a Swedish belly dancer who taps into the Oriental fantasies of her clientele; a Japanese woman studying Arabic, driven mad by the noise and chaos of the city; a frustrated Egyptian housewife who becomes obsessed by the activities of her Western gay neighbor; an American journalist who covered the civil war in Beirut who finds friendship with her Egyptian dentist. We also meet the two protagonists of McCullough's Confessions of a Knight…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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