No forgery, no attempt to imitation, no improbable sequel, no plunges of our beloved characters into an odd world full of monsters or vampires. In all respect to her omonym predecessor’s work, Jane Greensmith has written in her own style (original & lyrical ) nine short–stories inspired to Jane Austen’s novels and characters. Stories I enjoyed reading so much that I can’t find the right words to tell you. Maybe Jane Austen might help me : “I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a (good ) book …” (Pride and Prejudice)
The tales are so well conceived Janeites will immediately recognize the characters and the novels they love and they can even discover a new way to get to them and start thinking about them in a completely different light. Jane Greensmith’s stories are romantic, poetic, poignant, humorous, involving and all of them worth being read.
I wrote down my first impressions, or what most caught my attention, as soon as I finished each of the stories. I tried not to spoil too much for future readers to enjoy the surprising turns and bends. Here they are.
1. Rainbow around the Moon
The first one. Lyrical and compelling, inspired to Jane Austen’s last novel, Persuasion. Captain (now Admiral) Wentworth has grown old loving his Anne only and watching the sky in search for signs. The evocative beauty of the landscape – Cornwall - in the background.
2.The three sisters
Bitter but true. The market of marriage in Austen’s time had its practical reasons…not always marrying for love and love only resulted in happiness. This is what we learn from this effective two-page-and-a-half–long story.
3.The last baby
I’ve never thought I might sympathize with Mrs Bennet, I’ve always considered her unbearable, but Jane Greensmith made the miracle and, believe it or not, Mrs Bennet’s sweet satisfaction at the end of this story forced tears to my eyes. I felt deeply involved in her solitude after the marriages of all her daughters, in the painful loss of her last baby boy (her last chance to avoid losing their house), in her nostalgia for her youth, beauty and her husband’s love, in her longing for appreciation and attention, in her awareness of being silly and not young or beautiful any longer.
4.Bird of Paradise
Fanny has just become Mrs Bertram. But her arrival at Edmund’s rectory, Thornton Lacey, looks very much like Rebecca’s (duMaurier’s character) arrival at her beloved husband’s residence: a dark, broody, Mrs Danvers is there to govern their house trying to lead their lives … Guess what? Mrs Danvers starts mentioning Mary Crawford to Fanny, very often…
Again Jane Greensmith made the miracle! I’ve never sympathized with Fanny so much, not in Mansfield Park, at least.
5. The Color of Love
Mr Darcy a proud if not arrogant young gentleman? No, he is a very sensitive man who sees people in colours, especially their handwriting. And once he has had a look at Miss Elizabeth Bennet’s note to her mother, sent while she was staying at Netherfield with her ill sister Jane , he inevitably falls for her: “It (her handwriting) was a gleaming, shimmering ray of light, a beacon, a pool of warm viscous honey, a lighting bolt across darkened sky. It took his breath away”.
I’ve never read any Austen sequel following the story of the famous couple from Darcy’s point of view, but this short story was delicious.
6. Remember that we are English
How great an effort did Henry Tilney make to face his father, General Tilney , in order to marry his love, Catherine? Do you think she , Catherine, will change much once she is Mrs Henry Tilney? This tale just answer these questions and it is another very lovely one.
7. When Fates conspire
If you’ve always thought it was just by chance that Captain Wentworth and Anne Elliot met again at Kellynch after eight years and that just by chance they were given the occasion to finally truly know each other … you were – like me – completely wrong. Everything was due to a … Fates’s conspiracy.
8. Heaven can wait
How beautiful this one is , too, you can’t imagine! Just finished reading it but I want to go back to the start. Incredibly good.
Now, Jane is going to marry Mr Bingley tomorrow and just on that night we discover the reason of her coldness, that coldness to Charles that Mr Darcy had soon detected and which made him warn his close friend about Jane’s true affection. Was he right? Did the eldest Miss Bennet truly love her Mr Bingley? Had she ever loved before?
Oh, btw, Marianne Brandon (Dashwood) is also in this story!
9. All I do
The longest and definitely one of my favourites. Impossible to choose only one! What if wicked Wickham had his final revenge on Mr Darcy, punishing him with the most sorrowful, tremendous of tortures: dividing his rival from his beloved Elizabeth forever. I’ve only one point to make here: I can’t believe Mr Darcy would resist Elizabeth so stubbornly in order to honour his oath to a treacherous man like Wickham. Can’t tell you more, just that … “There is nothing greater than to tell the one you love: All I do, I do for you”.
This is Jane Greensmith’s first published work , such a promising beginning! We all wait for more, Jane. Thanks for being the talented writer, intelligent and generous person, joyous and active reader/ blogger you are !
and ... read her book!
If you love Jane Austen, you won't be disappointed.