Fiction — print. Ballantine Books, 2010. 300 pgs. Library copy.
Two hundred years after her death, Jane Austen is still surrounded by the literature she loves — but now it’s because she’s the owner of Flyleaf Books in a small town in Upstate New York. Every day she watches her novels fly off the shelves along with dozens of unauthorized sequels, spin-offs, and adaptations that twist her novels’ meanings and provide her with no royalties.
One such novel implores young girls to remain chaste and pure, like Jane, as they wait for their own Mr. Darcy, but the author is crass, rude to Jane, and only wrote the novel to make money. Her frustration grows, though, when the manuscript she started two hundred years ago is rejected for the 116th time.
I picked this novel up despite my reservations about paranormal Austen novels because the premise actually sounded quite funny; how would Austen react to the rewrites, sequels, and butchering of her six completed novels? I personally think it would be really interesting to hear what Jane herself thought of her books becoming their own genre within the literary world; would she not allow sequels to be written without permission like Margaret Mitchell’s family has done?
However, it eventually comes to light that the person who turned Jane into a vampire is Lord Byron, who is desperate to have a sexual relationship with her. Known for being quite the ladies’ man, Byron also turned several other British authoress, including Jane’s nemesis Charlotte Brontë. As Jane struggles to get her novel published, Byron and Charlotte rear their heads.
I started out enjoying this one as it was much of what I expected the novel to be about, but as soon as Bryon and Charlotte entered the scene it just became too much for me. Jane comes across as a frumpy, middle-aged woman who remain unaltered by the two centuries of change around her. She’s kind of boring. And I didn’t like how Charlotte is portrayed; she harbors a lot of ill will towards Jane for being such a famous author and comes across as caddy and mean. The premise originally written by Ford that sounded so interesting — how would Jane react to how exploit her name is to sell books — turns on its head as the author then proceeds to exploit her.