by Jane Greensmith
Published August 2008 by Lulu.com
This is a collection of nine short stories based on the works of Jane Austen. Greensmith gives some of the stories backstories, some sequels, and others what-ifs. In one story, Greensmith finds out how Fanny Price overcame her jealousy and self-doubt that was threatening her marriage to Edmund Bertram. In another, we learn of a love that Jane Bennet had before Charles Bingley. And in the last, and longest, story, Greensmith poses this what-if: what if Darcy, in order to get Wickham to agree to marry Lydia, had to agree never to marry Elizabeth?
I read this as part of Dewey's read-a-thon. I figured I'd need something nice and short sometime around hour 18 and I was right. I was dragging so badly by that point that this ended up being the slowest I have ever read 116 pages. And it was no fault of the book. Well, maybe it was a little bit the fault of the book. Because I really liked these stories and I just couldn't make myself race through them. The book opens with a story written from Mrs. Bennet's perspective about her relationship with Mr. Bennet. Greensmith did a marvelous job of making me see what might have made Mrs. Bennet the person she was in Pride & Prejudice. Greensmith also mixed in a bit of the otherworld--in one story wraiths are central and in another handwriting appears in different colors to Mr. Darcy.
Ms. Greensmith does not attempt to write in a way to mimic Austen. She has her own style and, as these are short stories, things move along at a much quicker pace that Austen used while remaining true to Austen's characters.
I have a hard time with short story collections. I find that I'm generally better off if I don't try to power my way through the entire collection at once. I wish that I would have done that with this book. I enjoyed it a great deal, but I think I would have been better able to savor each story if I had taken my time with this collection. I do recommend it lovers of Austen, particularly if you also enjoy the spin-offs and sequels.