Celebrate Jane Austen’s Birthday with These Retellings and Adaptations!
Disclaimer: I am going to wax poetic about Jane Austen (whose birthday is just around the corner on December 16th)!
When I was a kid, I predominantly read science fiction and fantasy (serious shouts to Tamora Pierce for showing me exactly how kickass girls could be). I never went out of my way to pick up books that followed people in real-life situations—because, why? What was so interesting about real life? Studying, boys, bossy parents? Dragons, swords, and magic were always the better choice.
And then, when I turned thirteen years old, my sister said it was time for me to read Pride and Prejudice. It started slow (as these things often do), but I quickly learned that Elizabeth Bennett was a fucking marvel—witty and bright-eyed. Her family? Downright ridiculous! But hilarious in their own terrible way. (Mr. Bennett was no sugar, all spice!) And, maybe it was because I had just become a teenager, but there was something so…teasing about Mr. Darcy’s behavior. When I read his letter to Elizabeth, I was all bated breath and nerves. And when he and EB finally got together? It was possibly the best thing that had ever happened in my little teenaged life.
After that I devoured every other Austen novel (currently working my way through her unfinished Sanditon—soon to be adapted by ITV), every retelling I could find, every adaptation I could rent. And there has been a LOT to munch on—because the world can’t get enough of Jane Austen, and countless novelists, screenwriters, and directors have tried to re-create her magic.
Now, we both know you’re here cause you love Jane too. So you’ve probably read the obvious modernizations like Bridget Jones’s Diary (which, while hilarious, is not told in the spirit of Jane, because Bridget ain’t no Elizabeth), and Austenland (which was also quite fun, but it’s more romance than witty commentary on society), and Eligible (which was part of The Austen Project, someone’s grandiose idea to have six different famous authors rewrite each of Austen’s books…and which were mostly terrible).
You’ve probably also seen at least five film adaptations! They all usually have a little something—Bride and Prejudice has musical numbers, Clueless has ’90s nostalgia. My personal favorites include: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Emma, Emma Thompson’s Sense and Sensibility (love ya forever Alan Rickman, a.k.a. Snape), Colin Firth’s Pride and Prejudice (it’s blasphemy to not love this), and this really weird but amazing mini-series called Lost in Austen (which takes a lot of liberties, but truly thinks the way Austen did). Tweet me (@ShefaliLohia) and let me know which adaptations you adore!