Last week, I received a letter from one of my readers. This isn’t an unusual event; I receive quite a bit of correspondence from my readers. But this letter really struck a chord with me for several reasons.
First, let me share the letter:
Dear Sarah Price
I recently read your retold novel of Jane Austen, entitled Sense and Sensibility. These were my genuine thoughts:
Having been acquainted with first-rate writer Jane Austen’s literary works as well as her unrecognized compositions, ‘Lady Susan’; ‘The Watsons’; fragmentary draft, ‘The Sandition’ – all splendid, exceptional and one-of-a-kind work of art and heart. Thus, it’s always been a challenge and a frightening attempt to retell such marvelously [sic] crafted works like of Jane Austen. Yet, you did an exemplary iterated novel!
I love everything about the novel – the few adapted words of your native language (for I’ve discover, a little, about certain foreign words); the Amish tongue; the dazzling book cover; the bearable and eloquence narration (which, I think, the one that regarded you as a best-selling Author of the Amish of Lancaster Series).
I consider some of my beliefs in conformity with Classicism. Thus, I’m a bit exasperated and find the storyline overdramatic and ‘out of line,’ just as like as the old ‘Sense and Sensibility.’ But after finishing the novel, I found myself in a sliding slope towards Romanticism. I’m delighted and became hasty of reading in consequence of my profound interest and curiosity to the whole context of the novel. I’m absolutely enamored especially to the last chapter; my eyes were weeping of joy. Just simply persuading and absolutely clever adaptation! I love the new flavours you spattered into the pure water. Having been raised in a religious country, I felt cheerful with the laid down bible verses; it’s was like reading a bible but distinct in approach.
I read a little about your biography and saw all your published novels, and definitely looking forward to reading those! I wish you good health, for you to write more and set more readers’ brushfires alight.
My first reaction to reading this letter was “Yes! Someone finally got it!” When I was writing my adaptation of Sense & Sensibility, capturing the attention of Jane Austen fans, not just my regular readers of Amish fiction, was exactly what I had hoped to do.
You see, for years, I have been writing Amish fiction and, unfortunately, that genre does not garner much respect from literary aficionados. I, however, had hoped to prove to readers that the Amish fiction genre could indeed be literary by adapting the Jane Austen story lines to the Amish setting.
I had a wonderful, although challenging, time writing that series. And, I was rather disappointed in the lack of fanfare from either camp: the Austenites or the Amishites (that’s not really a word…I just made it up!). Of course, the publisher at that time, Realms/Charisma, did not do a 21st century level of marketing (or even 20th century, to be honest) so I can’t blame the readers or the books. All of the books received a fair amount of nice reviews and two of them were on the ECPA best-seller list.
But I hadn’t converted anyone.
Jane Austen’s novels are timeless classics. They are literary treasures, for sure and certain. I was excited to adapt her books into the Amish setting and, when I began work on the series, I was even more thrilled to find that it worked. You see, Jane Austen wrote with a blend of Classicism as well as Romanticism. The story lines transcend time and geography…even social class. But being able to write the adaptations in a way that mirrored her literary style of writing…well, that was the greatest challenge indeed.
I’m thrilled that this reader discovered Sense & Sensibility. I’m also thrilled that she realized, as I had hoped so many Austenites might, that adaptations can be literary works, too. I think there are quite a few Austen Authors on this blog who would agree with that.