Why Are Sequels to the Classics So Popular? by Regina Jeffers, Author of The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy

Joining us on the blog today in celebration of her newest novel The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy is author Regina Jeffers!  Please join me in welcoming her as she discusses why sequels to classic novels are so popular.  As the author of several Jane Austen fan fiction novels Regina is definitely an expert on the subject!

As the past is always being reinvented, it should not surprise anyone that there is publishing market niche for reimagining the classics, whether the remake is one from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the Brontes, or Shakespeare. My writing career began with a Jane Austen retelling, and although I have branched out to Regency romances, I still regularly write Austen sequels. What appeal do these novels have for a modern reading public?

Truthfully, I cannot speak to the other authors, but Austen’s works maintain their timeliness because the subject matter is universal. They focus on themes that never die: marriage and social pressures. Jane Austen’s stories inspire self-reflection. Despite containing no war, no violence, no political intrigue, and no poverty, Austen’s stories are loaded with witty dialogue, irony, interesting back stories, and an epigrammatic style. In the early 1800s, the novel was written for a female audience. The subject matter was realistic, and the setting was recognizable.

Austen’s works are what are known as “formula fiction.” On the surface, that term sounds boring, but most readers seek out the same genre over and over. If one enjoys mysteries, he or she will attempt to solve the dilemma before the resolution is revealed. We all know people who exclusively read science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, inspirational, romance, or historical genres. The formula behind Austen’s stories involves a developing relationship between the hero and heroine. The hero is nearly a decade older than the heroine. He is masterful, mysteriously moody, refined, and passionate. The heroine has a profound transformation. Representing rational love, she is a woman of sense.

So, what do all these facts say for the Austen sequel? First, they say that little has changed in regards to a socially mobile culture. People are still trying to find their places in the world. They also say that Jane Austen’s analysis of the vicissitudes of class is timely. They speak of the appeal of the Byronic hero. They say there is a distinction between simple and complex personalities.

Small, perfect life stories are as compelling as those loaded with action scenes. The canon and its past are complemented by contemporary culture. In Ian Watt’s Rise of the Novel, the author says, “She [Austen] was able to combine into a harmonious unity the advantages both of realism of presentation and realism of assessment, of the internal and external approaches to character; her novels have authenticity without diffuseness or trickery, wisdom of social comment without a garrulous essayist, and a sense of the social order which is not achieve at the expense of the individuality and autonomy of the characters.”

Biting humor and delving insight pepper Austen’s works, and her romance enchants us. There is an undeniable potential for our species as long as love is an important part of our society.

Jane Austen was an expert in plot-driven fiction, a story line or turning point that branches out like the head of a broccoli. Her subject was common, ordinary, middling life, and she rendered it in minute detail. Her works are concerned with the 3 P’s + M: patriotism, paternalism, pastoralism, and the moral responsibility of the individual.

Many readers are under the mistaken impression that Jane Austen wrote character-driven works. Yet, characters are not really what drives Austen’s works. Jane Austen’s work is theme-driven. She wrote thematic masterpieces. Nuance upon nuance of a single idea is built around a central truism–very much like peeling away the layers of an onion. Theme permeates whatever it touches. Austen is not just clever with theme; she is a master.

Critics of these remakes refer to the phenomenon as “nostalgia.” But I beg to question for what are we nostalgic? The answer lies hidden beneath our contemporary need to view the world through a narrow lens–one buried in the past.

So, if you are looking for Austen-inspired literature, please join 19 of my closest friends and me at Austen Authors. We’ll provide you with a ton of ideas. I have seven Austen sequels to my credit: Darcy’s Passions; Darcy’s Temptation; The Phantom of Pemberley; Vampire Darcy’s Desire; Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion; Christmas at Pemberley, and The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy. I will release another Austen cozy mystery in Spring 2013.

The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy Book Blurb:

Shackled in the dungeon of a macabre castle with no recollection of her past, a young woman finds herself falling in love with her captor – the estate’s master. Yet, placing her trust in him before she regains her memory and unravels the castle’s wicked truths would be a catastrophe.

Far away at Pemberley, the Darcys happily gather to celebrate the marriage of Kitty Bennet. But a dark cloud sweeps through the festivities: Georgiana Darcy has disappeared without a trace. Upon receiving word of his sister’s likely demise, Darcy and wife, Elizabeth, set off across the English countryside, seeking answers in the unfamiliar and menacing Scottish moors.

How can Darcy keep his sister safe from the most sinister threat she has ever faced when he doesn’t even know if she’s alive? True to Austen’s style and rife with malicious villains, dramatic revelations and heroic gestures, this suspense-packed mystery places Darcy and Elizabeth in the most harrowing situation they have ever faced – finding Georgiana before it is too late.

Author Bio

Regina Jeffers, an English teacher for thirty-nine years, considers herself a Jane Austen enthusiast. She is the author of 13 novels, including Darcy’s Passions, Darcy’s Temptation, The Phantom of Pemberley, Christmas at Pemberley, The Scandal of Lady Eleanor, A Touch of Velvet, and A Touch of Cashémere. A Time Warner Star Teacher and Martha Holden Jennings Scholar, as well as a Smithsonian presenter, Jeffers often serves as a media literacy consultant. She resides outside of Charlotte, NC, where she spends time teaching her new grandson the joys of being a child.

Website – www.rjeffers.com

Blog – http://reginajeffers.wordpress.com

Twitter – @reginajeffers

Publisher –  Ulysses Press http://ulyssespress.com/

The March Round-Up

Holy crap. Where did March go? March was a JAM packed month of busy-ness for me! I am happy to report though that I had my best reading month ever! 21 books in one month! That’s ALMOST a book a day. Yippee!!  I’m not sure how I had such a hardcore book binge this month because I was stuck doing about 1,000 other things.  The 21 books brings my year-to-date total up to 49 books.  I’m almost half way to my total goal for the year!

Todd and I made more trips to NYC this month. (This is beginning to happen like every other weekend) Anyway, I was fortunate to get to meet up with two of my very good Twitter friends, Christine and Stacey, for the first time and experience Newsies on Broadway with them! I had the absolute time of my life.  The three of us have been conversing of our love for Newsies the movie for months and months and months.  When the news came out that it was hitting Broadway the three of us immediately started making plans.  Turns out Christine was flying to NY in March anyway to meet up with another friend, and decided that a trip to see Newsies was a necessary addition to her agenda!  We had fantastic seats, the play was amazing, and it couldn’t have been a better weekend (celebrating St. Patrick’s Day in NYC is also not too shabby).

Dad, Christine, and Mom

The following weekend we again traveled to NYC, this time for my sister Christine’s thesis defense.  She has worked tirelessly for the past six years and was granted her PhD with distinguished honors.  Needless to say my entire family is extremely proud of her.  She was the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college, get a master’s degree, and we can now add getting a PhD to that list!!  We had a fabulous celebration for her that included beers and karaoke.  (Honestly, is there anything better?)

The day after her defense Todd and I went to go see Spiderman: Turn Off the Lights on Broadway.  We had fantastic seats right in what is called “the landing zone”.  For those unfamiliar with the show, the actors frequently fly off and on to the stage via harnesses on the ceiling to stimulate Spiderman’s “web-action flying”.  It was one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen in my life.  The choreography needed to do the stunts must have taken forever to put together.  It was really impressive.

Besides all of the above I’ve kept busy with our bowling league, Relay for Life meetings, and some follow-up doctor visits for Todd. Thankfully, it seems he’s back to the state he was in prior to his accident. (Read my February Round-Up for more info)

Of everything I’ve read this month, my favorite book was A Million Suns by Beth Revis!  I cannot wait to write my review and share it with you.  A Million Suns is the second book in the Across The Universe Trilogy.  I have 11 months to go before the third and final book in the trilogy is being released.  I am slowly going mad with the wait….

I tried to keep my book selections eclectic as always, but wound up reading a ton of romance novels!  This has to do mainly with my discovery of Tessa Dare and Marie Force.  Both women wrote romance series that had me hooked.  Marie Force wrote the McCarthys of Gansett Island series, which currently has five books in it.  My review of book one, Maid For Love, is here.  Tessa Dare wrote two series that roped me in: The Wanton Dairymaid Trilogy and the Spindle Cove Series.  Coincidentally, Dare just released the second book in the Spindle Cove Series on March 27th. (yes, duh I bought/read it at midnight)  My reviews for all the books in these three series will hopefully be completed by mid April.  I owe y’all so many reviews it’s crazy.

April is lining up to be a pretty exciting month.  Adam’s got a historical fiction review coming, Todd has some more science fiction and fantasy reviews, and Charlie’s working on film reviews of The Hunger Games and John Carter.  I’ve got some exciting books to tell you about this month including The Flower Reader, The Kitchen Daughter, Across the Universe, and A Million Suns!  Author Regina Jeffers will also be guest posting this month in celebration of her new book The Disappearance of Georgiana Darcy, slated for an April 10th release!

Belle!

In closing I’d like to wish my beautiful kitten Belle a happy 5th birthday.  She’s been with me since my senior year in college, and I don’t know what I’d do without her cute face greeting me when I get home everyday!

I think that pretty much sums up March! As always let me know what you’ve been reading and any recommendations you’ve got for me!

Happy Reading =)

#51 A Review of Darcy’s Passions by Regina Jeffers

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Ever wonder what Darcy was feeling during Pride and Prejudice?  Thanks to Austen’s superb storytelling, we are not left wanting regarding how Elizabeth feels towards Mr. Darcy.  However, we never quite know the exact series of events that make Darcy view Lizzy as the sole object of his affections instead of an insignificant person unworthy of his time.  In Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Through His Eyes by Regina Jeffers, we get a glimpse at what Darcy must have truly felt and get to view the emotions swimming through his head whenever he was with Lizzy.  In short, it is the story of a man who has captured the hearts of millions of readers, and spawned countless works dedicated to the enigmatic and dashing Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy.

Darcy and Bingley arrive in Hertfordshire to move Bingley into his new estate, and while there they decide to attend the Meryton assembly, a local ball.  There Darcy meets Miss Elizabeth Bennet, who he states is “not handsome enough to tempt him”, although we all know how he changes his mind.  Jeffers continues telling the story of Pride and Prejudice, except this time through Darcy’s eyes.  Thanks to Jeffers we now know how Darcy felt throughout his pursuit of Elizabeth, their eventual courtship and marriage.

I’ve read other novels that Jeffers has written and one thing always stands out to me about her writing: her ability to get inside the characters’ heads.  I think it’s safe to say that after Elizabeth says no to Darcy’s first proposal, his mind is filled with doubt.  He has doubts about who he is, feels anger over not getting Elizabeth, and in the end experiences turmoil over how to move on from this situation.  Jeffers writes her Darcy with the perfect blend of all of these emotions and then some, as we play the back-and-forth game over whether Darcy should pursue Elizabeth or not.   It was a retelling of Pride and Prejudice that, in my opinion, got Darcy spot-on.

Another point I really enjoyed about this retelling is that it gives us a glimpse of the Darcy’s married life.  Jeffers writes a few chapters that delve into the first months of their new life together, and she shows us that their marriage isn’t perfect, but quite realistic.  These are two people with very strong character and  personality traits.  Anyone who writes them experiencing a perfect marriage isn’t doing justice to who they are as individuals.  Sure they love each other, but they’re both strong-willed and stubborn people who have a hard time yielding to others. 

For those of you looking for a refreshing look at Pride and Prejudice, I would highly recommend Darcy’s Passions.  It also provides nice closure to a story so close to many of our hearts.  If you read Darcy’s Passions and enjoy it, Jeffers followed it up with Darcy’s Temptation.  (Which I would also recommend!)

4 out of 5 Stars

This is my twenty-third completed review for the Historical Fiction Challenge

Darcy’s Passions by Regina Jeffers
Ulysses Press (2009)
Paperback, 236 pages

Guest Review of Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion by Regina Jeffers

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Laurel Ann, moderator of Austenprose once again made my week when she asked me to write another guest review for her blog!  My review is of a book I read earlier in the year, Captain Wentworth’s Persuasion: Jane Austen’s Classic Retold Through His Eyes by Regina Jeffers.

For a direct link to my guest review click here!

I again want to thank Laurel Ann for the opportunity and for her guidance in leading a fledgling blogger to find her writing voice!