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Dancing With Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired By Jane Austen And Chawton House (2010)

by Sarah Waters(Favorite Author)
3.12 of 5 Votes: 5
0061999067 (ISBN13: 9780061999062)
Harper Paperbacks
review 1: These short stories are the winning entries in the Jane Austen short story contest sponsored by Chawton House, the home of Jane Austen's brother, which is now a library for early women writers. The winning entries are written by experienced writers and are inspired by Jane Austen, (her themes, her stories, her life) or some aspect of Chawton House or Jane Austen's home, Chawton Cottage. There are a mix of contemporary, historical and fantasy stories of all types. The winning entry "Jane Austen Over the Styx" finds our beloved authoress in Hades answering to six of her most horrible elderly female characters. They charge her with being guilty of disliking the elderly and wish to punish their author in some way. This is an usual setting for a story and slightly darkly funny.... more I disagree with the ladies because there are other examples of kind elderly women in Jane Austen's stories. The outcome is bittersweet. This was one of the stories I liked in the anthology because it was funny and odd and very different and featured Jane Austen. The runner up entry, "Jayne", is set in the modern world and features an adult model protagonist who also studies English Literature. She has the same monetary goals as Jane Austen's characters but set in the real world, her goals seem more practical and easier to relate to. This is a good story if you like contemporary fiction. The second runner-up takes place inside Jane Austen's head as she struggles with her decision to marry or not marry Harris Bigg-Wither. Like her characters, she wants financial support for herself and her family but she really doesn't want to marry without love. The author expertly captured Jane Austen's thoughts and feelings and the reader will feel like they are right inside Jane Austen's head. My favorite story is "The Delaford Lady's Detective Agency" in which Elinor Dashwood Ferrars is a detective specializing in minor domestic crimes affecting women. She sets out to solve the mystery of a ghost who finishes the embroidery of one of Marianne's house guests while the guests sleep. The story is told from Elinor's point of view and the author stays true to Elinor's calm, rational personality. The answer to the mystery isn't all that surprising but how Elinor deals with it is true to her time period and her personality, which I like. Another take on Sense and Sensibility but in the modern world is "Marianne and Ellie". Ellie, the sensible, practical sister has to help her over-emotional younger sister through a bad break-up while keeping the secret of her own failed relationship. I could really relate to the two sisters in the story. I can see my little sister as Marianne. I'm not as nice as Ellie but I can see myself in her shoes and enjoyed the updated version of the story. My other favorite contemporary story is "Cleverclogs." I gather that Cleverclogs means smartypants in British because the narrator of the story is a little girl who loves to learn and talk about what she's learned. She's precocious and intelligent and just discovering the works of Jane Austen, thanks to her sympathetic grandmother. She lacks maturity for all her wisdom but figures out the right thing to do in the face of a crisis. This is another story I could relate to because the narrator reminded me of myself as a child and of a girl I used to babysit for. I liked the way she experienced Jane Austen and used her love of books to overcome a big change in her life. Another stand-out is "Snowmelt" about a librarian who is afraid of change and fears the apocalypse is coming soon. When the world changes around her and she's no longer relevant, she learns to accept the changes and turn a negative into a positive. I especially liked this story because of the changing library theme and the study of early women writers. "Second Fruits" is another good contemporary retelling of a Jane Austen story, this time Persuasion, in which a young lady is forced by her father to give up her happiness for the sake of ambition and money. The father in the story did not seem very realistic and I find it hard to believe that a 20th century teenager wouldn't fight for her own happiness, but otherwise I liked the way the author updated the story and made it relevant to the real 21st century world. My least favorite story is "One Character in Search of Her Love Story Role" in which the author uses footnotes to explain obscure literary theory references. It made the story even more confusing than it was and distracted the flow of the narrative. In this story, a contemporary heroine spends time with Jane Bennet and Jane Eyre to discuss life and love and how to be a heroine. It would have been a much better story without the complicated references. Overall, I was a bit disappointed in these stories. I was hoping for more Regency-set stories or more Jane Austen stories and didn't care for the overwhelming amount of modern stories.I also think the overwhelming use of British terms and Literary philosophy make some of the stories difficult for the average American reader. I wouldn't recommend buying this book as part of a Jane Austen collection but for a general literature collection or women's literature collection.
review 2: How interesting. This has to be one of the weirdest cases where I couldn't disagree with the editors more. Who could have guessed that people who are fans of Jane Austen could so distinctly disagree on what made for good short stories inspired by her?The contents of this book are the winners of a publishing contest. I thought the winner and the first runner up were okay, but nothing to write home about. I couldn't even finish a page of the third story because of obscenities. The f-words were rolling before I even got far enough into the story to figure out the Jane Austen connection. Is this really what fans of Jane Austen would be looking for? An author who is truly creative could have made the point in another way.Hey, it's okay for people to have different opinions. I'm just not interested in this book and I couldn't recommend it to any of my friends who are also Jane Austen fans. less
Reviews (see all)
The first story was truly exceptional. Victoria Owens has a great imagination and wonderful style.
Ugh. Like reading online fan fiction, and I mean that in the worst way.
One or two stories were delightful, but the rest were blah!
Review to come.
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