The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

If you are a Jane Austen fan, and even if you aren’t (but especially if you are), you don’t want to miss this one. Sure, a book about Jane Austen and time travel sounds dicey, but The Jane Austen Project is smart, fun, and unputdownable.

What would you give up so she could live?

Not only do we get to time travel to 1815 to meet Jane Austen, but the time travelers are also from our future, adding another layer of interest. Going back to 1815 is quite a shock for them, but they have been preparing for this trip for a long time. Their mission: to steal the finished manuscript of The Watsons, and to try to determine the cause of Jane Austen’s death.

But how prepared can you really be for a world so different from your own? It was fun watching Rachel and Liam negotiating with each other and with this new world; trying to fit in seamlessly, but doubting their ability to do so along the way. For Rachel, it was hard for her to allow the men to act and think first while staying demurely in the background.

But how ghastly to be a woman here, I thought, as I realized that even I, who should know better, was thinking of them only in reference to men: those they would marry, or those they might wish to.

When Rachel asks Jane what she thinks of Mary Wollstonecraft’s ideas, she responds…

“She said only what everyone already knows… Yet if she was expecting men to snap our chains, I cannot but regard her as vastly naive. Why would anyone ever willingly surrender such advantages as birth and nature have bestowed on them? You might as soon ask me to go down into the offices and insist that my housemaid let me scrub the floors.”

As well as being on top of their game all the time, and never letting their guard down, they also have to be careful not to do anything that might significantly alter the future. But how to know what will be significant and what will not? They will have to wait and see what damage they’ve done when they get home… if they ever get there.

I thought how our cells are constantly dying and being formed anew, and that the longer I stayed here, the more I was becoming a product of 1815.


Further reading:

If you’re interested in learning more about The Jane Austen Project or about Jane Austen’s abandoned book The Watsons, see Kathleen A. Flynn’s guest post on Sarah Emsley’s blog.

A thorough review of the book on Austenblog – “We enjoyed getting to know this Jane Austen, who is fiercely intelligent and keenly observant, and has a tremendous sense of humor and a heart as big as the sky.

A lovely review at Transactions with Beauty – “I love Flynn’s first line because it references the sort of mania, obsessive enthusiasm, of Austen lovers, who are really always travelling back in time.

Have a look at Kathleen A. Flynn’s Jane Austen Reading Project. I’m especially interested in the “somehow relevant fiction” section. Have you read anything from this list?

What are your favourite Austen-related books?

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44 thoughts on “The Jane Austen Project by Kathleen A. Flynn

  1. TJ @ MyBookStrings says:

    I read The Jane Austen Book Club, which is on the Somehow Relevant Fiction list. It was a fun book, and an Austen fan will appreciate the smart way that Austen’s different books are brought up. And I just recently found a copy of Dinner with Mr. Darcy, a cookbook that promises to be much fun. Now I’ll be on the lookout for a copy of Flynn’s book…

    • Naomi says:

      I forgot about The Jane Austen Book Club! My mother gave that one to me right after I had baby #3. It was a good time to read it. πŸ™‚ Now I kind of feel like reading it again…

      • buriedinprint says:

        I liked the film of that one too: quiet, like the book, but I liked it just as well. I”m not a huge spin-off reader. Does reading her letters count? No, I didn’t think so. I do remember considering reading one of the spin-offs by Joan Aiken. Does that count? *looks hopeful*

      • Naomi says:

        I’m not a big spin-off reader, either, but this one already came recommended by a trusted source. This one is worth the read! Really. πŸ™‚

  2. JacquiWine says:

    With the 200th anniversary fast approaching, it must be the season for all things Austen. I doubt whether this is for me (I’m too much of a pursuit for spin-offs), but I can think of a couple of people who might like. Thanks for the tip. πŸ™‚

    • Naomi says:

      This is good for anyone who likes Jane Austen, historical fiction, or time travel.
      It’s amazing to think that a writer from 200 years ago is still so popular!

  3. Sarah Emsley says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this! I loved it. Fascinating to watch as Rachel and Liam discover how inadequate their preparations were. I’ve read several of the books on the “Somehow Relevant” list; one of my favourites is Tracy Chevalier’s Remarkable Creatures.

    • Naomi says:

      I loved Remarkable Creatures! There are a lot of books on the list that I wouldn’t have thought were related, but I also haven’t read them, so… πŸ™‚
      Really, it’s surprising that Rachel and Liam were as prepared as they were, because there were so many things to consider – things I never would have thought of. I was nervous the whole time about their money. It was so much fun!

  4. whatmeread says:

    I don’t know. This sounds sort of intriguing and doubtful all at the same time. It would depend on how good the author is at depicting Austen’s world, I guess.

  5. Lauren Mead says:

    This sounds like a fun read! I’m going to have to check it out! (I agree that it sounds a little bit like “The Eyre Affair,” but just different enough that I’d love to dive into that world).

  6. Jenny @ Reading the End says:

    Aw, fun! I haven’t read a ton of Jane Austen related books, but I did read a terrific book called What Matters in Jane Austen that was really enlightening — it talked about death in Jane Austen in a way that I really hadn’t thought about before. I also have this book called Jane’s Fame that’s about how her reputation changed and spread throughout the centuries, which looks super interesting, but I haven’t read it yet.

  7. Liz Dexter says:

    I liked The Jane Austen Book Club and have Mullan’s “What Matters” on my wish list, too. Apart from that, I don’t really like sequels etc – but this looks like FUN!

  8. The Cue Card says:

    I like Flynn’s “somehow relevant fiction” section. Wow she has great lists on Austen. I didn’t realize A Wrinkle in Time is relevant. Off her list, I really enjoyed Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld. Funny!

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