Welcome to my Highly Subjective list based totally on my own personal tastes, mmmkay? And I’m not including any of the works by my fellow Austen Authors on this site, because I’m sure you all know by now how amazing they are. My incredulity when Sharon Lathan and Regina Jeffers invited me to join knew no bounds, and I still sometimes pinch myself, unable to believe I’m sitting in such exalted company!
We all have our favourites, as well as our authors we trust to never get it wrong. We’ve probably all one-clicked that book on Amazon which had a nice-looking cover and blurb with good reviews and ended up wondering what the heck everyone else saw in it. The books I’m about to list here might not be the best-written, or the most popular. You might have read some of them and want to scream and whack me over the head for even SUGGESTING others might enjoy. The simple truth is, I enjoyed all these books for different reasons. Why not give them a go – and why not share YOUR favourite Austen variations in the comments?
Is there any book more divisive among JAFF lovers? Mr Darcy Takes A Wife was my first introduction to the entire world of JAFF, when I picked up the paperback in a bookshop many years ago. It’s a steamy, raunchy romp and I admit I vacillate between loving Mr Darcy completely losing his mind as he discovers the carnal delights of marriage to being prudishly shocked at the ‘endless bonking’ as one reviewer described it. Parts of it are hilarious, starting with the opening scene where Darcy attempts to offer Lizzy a cushion to ease her ‘nether regions’ as they journey in a carriage towards Pemberley. If you’ve never read it, you should at least check out the 10% sample you can read for free on Amazon. And if you love it, well. There are sequels!
This one’s a fun rom-com type of read where Mr. Darcy ends up stranded at Longbourn with a badly broken leg after falling over the Bennet family’s cat. Darcy behaves like his usual over-proud self at first, but is humbled by the kindness the family show him despite his behaviour. Elizabeth has to try very hard to hold onto her prejudice against him in the face of his obvious efforts. The friendships fostered between Darcy and the other Bennet sisters are really charming.
Also, I’m a sucker for animal stories 😛 As you’ll see from my next choice…
To this day, Master Under Good Regulation remains the only JAFF story which has made me ugly-cry. Told from the perspective of Darcy’s loyal dog, Reggie, the story follows Darcy from a boy of 15 right up to and through his courtship of Elizabeth, completely faithful to P&P canon. You can probably guess how it ends when I point out that Reggie is in his teens by that time, but trust me – the story is worth the ugly-cry at the end.
Georgiana Darcy’s Diary – Anna Elliott
Now, I know a lot of readers don’t like JAFFs which aren’t Darcy and Elizabeth-centric, but I do. I really enjoy seeing the explorations of characters who get very little time in canon, and Anna Elliott has a terrific series called the Pride and Prejudice Chronicles. The first two books are about Georgiana, with a Georgiana/Fitzwilliam romance, and the third is about Kitty Bennet with an original character romance of her own. They’re well-written and on my regular re-read list!
If you like modern JAFF variations, you cannot go past Ibi Zoboi’s incredible Pride. It really is a Pride and Prejudice for the modern era, with race relations taking the place of class and wealth distinctions as the differences between the protagonists. With a proud Afro-Latino heroine from Brooklyn and her tight-knit family the Benitez just as difficult as the Bennets of the original, I honestly think this is a must-read for any JAFF fan, and I’d actually suggest it as a great resource to introduce younger readers to Austen – much as Clueless brought me to Emma back in 1995 and 10 Things I Hate About You adapted Shakespeare’s Taming Of The Shrew.
I’d love to hear about YOUR favourite Austen variation in the comments! Is it the wildly out-there Pride & Prejudice & Zombies, which I noped out of because it was too much for my suspension of disbelief to accept? Or maybe the whole of Sharon Lathan’s gorgeous Darcy saga? Share the love, and your reasons why, and let’s all find something new and fantastic to read (I hope!)