Sunday, June 25, 2017

Fiction Review: The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

Harper Voyager is one of my favorite imprints these days.  In addition to publishing this delightful novel, they also published the magnificently fun, original, and heartfelt Wayfarers space operas The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet and A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers.  They also published another excellent Jane Austen-inspired novel, this one a fantasy, called Heartstone by Elle Katharine White.  Heartstone is a feminist Pride and Prejudice with dragons!  Needless to say, it's awesome.  Another great thing about Harper Voyager is that their books are all (I think all of them, but at the very least all of these books) paperback originals, which means they aren't published first in hardback.  This is great for those who are budget-conscious but still want to read the newest books.

Kathleen A. Flynn's The Jane Austen Project is, I really hope, the first in a series.  This was definitely one of the better Jane Austen-themed novels I've read, and I've read a good many of them. They're often pretty trite and saccharine, which is ironic, since Austen's books are so incisive, smart, and biting in their satire. Flynn's novel has an original premise, involving a doctor from a future in which time travel is possible, who is sent with a male colleague to befriend Jane Austen and her family in order to obtain copies of her letters and the purported finished version of her unfinished (in our time) novel, The Watsons. The protagonist is a strong, confident and smart woman, which suits an Austen homage, and the romance in the book is very modern and not the whole point of the protagonist's life. Fun and smart.

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