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Celebrate Jane Austen with Books We Think She’d Read Today

by  | December 16

The indelible works of Jane Austen remain a pleasure even after all this time. Her books have left impressions on all forms of narrative storytelling, and you can see her influences in tons of modern works across genres. She was truly a literary pioneer for the ages. So how best to celebrate a beloved author and her oeuvre than by speculating about the kinds of books she would jot down on her TBR list if she were alive today? Here are five books we think the Regency-era author—and by extension her fans—would love.

The Clockmaker's Daughter

The Clockmaker's Daughter

by Kate Morton

Jane Austen knew all too well about high society, and how power and money could sour even the softest of dispositions. So she’d probably be interested in seeing how, some forty-five years after her death, nothing in history had really changed. The Clockmaker's Daughter follows Elodie Winslow, a young historian in the present day who discovers a leather satchel that takes her back to a doomed summer in 1862. While the artistic visitors of Birchwood Manor find their summer holidays at the country house lead to broken hearts and twisted secrets, so does Elodie find out just how she is connected to it all as she uncovers the house’s dark truths. With touches of fantastical elements and a strong Gothic streak, this novel is a drama that will rivet you in its high-society scandal, betrayal, era-hopping, and romance.

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When Life Gives You Lululemons

When Life Gives You Lululemons

by Lauren Weisberger

Austen’s portrayals of the inner lives of women, with their focus on friendships and sisterly bonds, were not only refreshing for readers of her time, but also inspired a lot of today’s fantastic female-led narratives. So while you might think three women trying to live their lives in suburban Connecticut wouldn’t jive with Ms. Austen, I think Jane would love to watch them at work and at play. In this third book in The Devil Wears Prada series, Emily Charlton, Miranda Priestly’s ex-assistant, has hit a low after working as an image consultant on the West Coast. She’s looking for a win, one she’s hoping to get from her neighbor Karolina Hartwell, a former supermodel and wife of a New York senator. Her way in is via Miriam, a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom who is struggling to navigate the suburban world. There’s enough drama, intrigue, and biting wit to keep any reader glued to the page, but it’s the deep friendship the three ladies form that will stick with you long after you’ve read the book.

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This Is How You Lose the Time War

This Is How You Lose the Time War

by Amal El-Mohtar

Jane Austen loved a good love story, so it’s not hard to imagine that she would want to pick up a book about two people pining for each other, written in delicate and thoughtful prose. Even if, you know, those two people are women on the opposite sides of a long and confusing war across time. Red and Blue know they shouldn’t fall in love with each other, being enemies on the battlefield and all, but the letters they exchange quickly go from chastising and antagonistic to longing and sweet. Intellectual equals duking it out with words is reminiscent of Austen’s works (as anyone who’s ever read Pride and Prejudice or Emma can attest to), and this novel is sure to make you wish we were back in the days of writing letters.

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A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl

A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl

by Jean Thompson

Times change, and the opportunities available for each generation of women have changed accordingly over the last two centuries. It is this movement forward that drives the story of A Cloud in the Shape of a Girl, which follows three women across three generations in the same family as they deal with love, marriage, and their own happiness—all things Austen loved to write about. Evelyn, Laura, and Grace Wise face great challenges throughout their lives, but whether it be tackling issues of war, infidelity, or insecurity, they always manage to find their footing. Every leg of this saga presents a different look at a situation, showing how each woman pushes and pulls away from the others as she tries to figure out what it is she really wants. It’s a moving story of struggle and self-discovery: Austen fans will find a lot to like here.

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Dear Rachel Maddow

Dear Rachel Maddow

by Adrienne Kisner

It can be hard standing up for what you think is right when everyone else seems to be pushing you in the opposite direction. Many of Austen’s heroes have faced these kinds of hurdles, and Brynn, the protagonist of Adrienne Kisner’s YA novel Dear Rachel Maddow, follows in that tradition. After sending an email to her hero, political commentator Rachel Maddow, and getting a response, Brynn writes to Maddow about all the stuff in her life...she just never sends it. Still, it gives her a certain amount of comfort to think what Maddow would do in her situation. When Brynn’s school runs an election for a student representative to help pick the new superintendent, she finds that her ex-girlfriend, Sarah, and nemesis, Adam, both believe only honors students should be up for the position. An empowering tale of a young woman coming into her own and fighting for her ideas, Dear Rachel Maddow reminds us that sometimes you have to be the change agent you want to see in the world.

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Photo Credit // Elaine Howlin on Unsplash

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A reporter by trade, Sara Roncero-Menendez is a lover of horror, sci-fi, and all things pop culture. From indies to classics to even the strangest genre pieces, all movies, TV shows, and books are fair game for a binge-fest. Follow her on Twitter @sararomenen or at her website, www.sara-roncero-menendez.com