(You know, it's very soothing, not having to get creative with my post titles.)
We're planning to review a number of Austen continuations this week, and Lord knows there's been a recent outpouring of Austen-inspired books*, but today we thought we'd introduce you to some of the earlier attempts to turn Austen-pillaging into a competitive sport. You'd probably be smarter to stick with Austen's original works (trust me, they stand up to a few thousand re-readings), reading a Georgette Heyer novel, or checking out one of the web's many Austen fanfic sites**, but, hey, if all else fails...
Joan Aiken wrote a number of books that were either continuations of or inspired by Austen's works. While most of these were forgettable or worse (Lady Catherine's Necklace), two were solid: 1984's Mansfield Revisited and 1997's Jane Fairfax. Both are worth hunting for at your local library.
Julia Barrett (the pseudonym of authors Gabrielle Donnelly and Julia Braun Kessler) is the author of three Austen continuations: The Third Sister, Presumption, and Charlotte. When I first read these books I thought they were terrible, but--having read several Austen continuations that are far worse--now I'm grading on a curve, and have since upgraded these to "Mediocre".
While I've read plenty of craptastic Austen continuations, Linda Berdoll's two R-rated efforts (Darcy and Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley and Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife) take the absolutely unreadable cake. I'm all for spicing things up, but Berdoll's dim-witted, over-the-top bodice-ripping and questionable writing talent would have been better suited to a late-night cable version of Forever Amber.
[Click here for a list of additional Austen sequels/companion novels, organized by source book.]
*She practically has her own section at Target!
**Hey, don't knock 'em until you've tried 'em. Some of them are excellent, and all of them are FREE.