On September 6th, my book, Mount Hope, an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, releases.
A lot of my regular readers ask me why I would want to adapt novels written in the early 1800s and set in England. When I embarked on this journey of adapting Jane Austen’s romances written in the early 1800s, I was looking forward to the challenge of recreating her six novels in the Amish setting. What I quickly learned was how Jane Austen’s timeless classics transcend time and location. In any culture, love is often met with difficult decisions and tiring trials. I have found the journey of adapting these novels, challenging and stimulating. I have also learned that the heartache and emotions felt by Elizabeth Bennett, Eleanor and Mary Anne, and Emma are no different than those felt by women in other communities, including the Amish.
Fanny Price is no different.
In Mount Hope, Fanny Price is born to an impoverished Amish family living in Westcliffe, Colorado. This character is actually based upon a family that I met in Westcliffe, their circumstances almost identical to the ones I have described in Mount Hope. The community is small and the farming lacking in both fertility and futility. In my novel, her parents make a hard decision to send Fanny to live with family in Mount Hope, Ohio. But, upon arriving at her aunt and uncle’s farm, Fanny quickly learns that she is an outsider, not family. Her aunt Miriam is oppressed by both her husband, Thomas, and older sister, Naomi, while her two cousins, Miriam and Julia, make their feelings of superiority known immediately. The only friendship she receives is from Elijah, Thomas’s son from a previous marriage.
Fanny grows up as part of the Bontrager household but not part of their family. She knows her place in the family hierarchy and has learned to not challenge it. Meanwhile, her feelings toward Elijah as her one friend, and only champion, begin to shift into a deeper emotion that she fears is not returned.
What I enjoyed most about writing Mount Hope was how, unlike her other heroines, Jane Austen created the original Fanny Price to be appear oppressed and meek. The journey that readers take with both Austen’s and my Fanny Price is one of a personal evolution.
Readers will fall in love with Fanny Price and experience the same emotions as she does: sorrow for her losses and gratitude for God’s grace as she learns how to stand up for herself and live with countless disappointments.
Mount Hope releases on September 6th and readers are encouraged to alert their local bookstores to pre-order their copy.