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.
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?