One of my very first memories is how much I loved a pair of Little Mermaid pants I got for Christmas when I was six. I’m what I call “the Disney generation.” Disney’s animated stories of fantasy and happily ever afters mark my childhood. And I’ll admit to enjoying them just as much as an adult with my own children now.
In recent decades, every few years sees a new Disney princess emerge. Since 1989 there have been nine new princesses versus only two in the five decades preceding. Recent years have also featured protagonists less focused on finding true love and more desirous of adventure. They also learn something new about themselves, turning them into full-fledged heroines.
This brings me to Jane Austen. I’ve already posted a little about Jane Austen history and media. I think there’s a correlation between the increase in Austen love since 1995 and the arrival of heroic role models for young girls from Disney. Essentially, when it came time to care less about Mulan and Belle, I found Jane Austen.
The Disney characters I grew up with lived the ultimate fantasy. They felt awkward and unaccepted. They had to find themselves. They usually had to prove their worth and take care of others in the process. Finding Jane Austen heroines that went through the same thing thrilled me, because maybe if someone was writing about it two hundred years ago, it wasn’t such a fantasy.
Fortunately, I survived childhood and young adult years and am now older than any Disney or Austen heroine. And I find myself happy, content and blessed. Life’s every bit the adventure they promised me it would be. But, I admit I still crave a bit of fantasy.
So, I’ve recently taken a cue from my love for Disney and have begun a series re-imagining Austen in a fantasy world. (Important disclaimer: None of the characters are inspired by Disney. I’m only talking about Disney’s influence on my like of fantastical stories). What would happen if Jane Austen’s beloved characters used magical means for their happily ever afters? What would it be like if their power was true love? And how would the villains try to stop them?
Some may think it’s a huge departure from Jane Austen. After all, she wrote very realistic characters in very realistic and believable scenarios. But there’s also a magical quality. Things do always end up happy for the heroine. There are fortunate encounters, almost as if the characters have a fairy godmother looking after them. The heroes and heroines have unique qualities about them that make them different than their counterparts.
And I promise I do not go as far fetched as having magical hair that glows when one sings that can also heal and return the loss bloom of youth. Though, I am sure Sir Walter Elliot would certainly love that. Speaking of him, you’ll meet him eventually as The Witches of Austen is a planned series of ten books that will cover all of Austen’s six principal works.
Indeed, the characters are thoroughly Austen’s, as seen here:
“You are considering something, Eliza,” Charlotte said in her ear.
“Did you see how Mr. Darcy was listening to our conversation?”
“He seemed most attentive.”
“Well, he must mean to intimidate me with his stern looks, but I will not allow it.”
“Eliza,” Charlotte cautioned.
“Oh, do not fear he will end up singed. I am still more comfortable with my tart mouth than with my magical powers. He already despises me, I may as well be impertinent. Ouch!” Elizabeth rubbed her ribs where Charlotte had elbowed her. “Why did you? Oh.”
Mr. Darcy had approached. Charlotte seemed to suggest with her eyes that Elizabeth get to work on her plans, and so she did. “I daresay the Militia will host a ball before too long. I think I was uncommonly persuasive and eloquent in my teasing.”
“Indeed, you were most passionate; but it is a subject which makes most ladies articulate.”
Elizabeth met his eyes, feeling fire crackle in her. “You do not believe we are intelligible on other topics? We are only enthusiastic about dancing and other fripperies?”
Charlotte grabbed Elizabeth’s hand. “I see Mama motioning to me. It will now be your turn to be teased, Eliza. It is time to open the pianoforte, and you know you are Papa’s favorite performer.” –Sisters Bewitched
They are also thoroughly magical:
“I absolutely cannot accept you,” Elizabeth said. “Can I speak plainer? My feelings in every respect forbid it. Do not suppose me to be plaguing you. I speak from my heart with a mind as rational as yours.”
“You are uniformly charming!” he cried.
Before Elizabeth could think otherwise, a fireball appeared in her hands.
“Miss Elizabeth!” he yelped in horror and fear.
“Will you believe me now? Would I draw fire on a man I loved and hoped to wed?”
“Miss Elizabeth!” His bottom lip trembled, and he raised his hands in defense.
Elizabeth had no intention of harming him but thought to instill some fear might do him a world of good. She drew up her arm and aimed at his body.
“P-p-p-please!” He stammered out as he turned to run. Before he made it to the door, he looked at her once more, still poised to throw at him. Letting out one final shriek, he turned the handle, flung open the door and then dropped to the floor unconscious.
Elizabeth let out a disgusted snort then stepped over him. A few minutes later Mrs. Bennet found her in the garden.
“Lizzy, I hope Mr. Collins wasn’t too disappointed.”
“Oh, I don’t think he was.”
“And where is he now?”
“I left him in the drawing room,” she said while hiding a smile. –The Secrets of Netherfield Abbey
If you also enjoy reading fantasy, I hope you’ll try The Witches of Austen. To gain interest in this series, I am offering free copies of both books. Please comment below with your email if you would like a copy.
Sisters Bewitched (Book 1)
The Secrets of Netherfield Abbey (Book 2)