Michele Roberts is the author of novels that include "The Looking Glass" and "Daughters of the House," which won the W. H. Smith Literary Award and was short-listed for the Booker Prize. She has also published poetry and short stories, and she is an emeritus professor of creative writing at the University of East Anglia.
This is the anthology resulting from the Jane Austen Short Story Competition 2010. The competition was initiated by Chawton House Library in 2009, and this time it has drawn entries from all over the world to create an amazing range of cultural takes on the material, method and value of Jane Austens creations. Three of the most touching stories are about the power of a book to transform or connect lives, even to be a world in which to live. In the case of Jane Austen 1945, it is an actual means of survival; in Empty Hands, the last thread binding memory and love. In The Way of Happiness, though linked to Persuasion, centres on the shared experience of reading the novels. Persuasion is one of the two sources which predominate and it furnishes two fine second chance tales: Mary Fitzpatricks excellent opening story set in 1960s Ireland and Sarah Barrs Blue Lias. Pride and Prejudice proved by far the favourite source. Some authors speculate on the characters lives beyond the books scope Lady Catherines lonely fate in Katie and a much happier future for her daughter Anne (People of the Book). Mr Wickham, Charlotte and Mr Collins appear in a variety of modern settings which demonstrate the universality of both characters and dilemmas. Fairy Tale Ending poignantly shows a modern Russian Charlotta struggling with constraints which force on her the choice Charlotte Lucas faced 200 years ago. A fine piece of invention, Harriet and the Gypsies uses a brief incident in Emma to open out a whole tangential life in the turbulent, war-torn Europe which remains so firmly shut out of the original novels. A few, while intriguing stories, are rather tenuously connected to the theme but the whole collection demonstrates a rich variety of styles, settings and responses which reflect on Jane Austens endless fascination and inspiration. Caroline Clark It is possible to use this review for promotional purposes, but the following acknowledgment should be included: A review from www.gwales.com, with the permission of the Welsh Books Council. Gellir defnyddio'r adolygiad hwn at bwrpas hybu, ond gofynnir i chi gynnwys y gydnabyddiaeth ganlynol: Adolygiad oddi ar www.gwales.com, trwy ganiatd Cyngor Llyfrau Cymru. -- Welsh Books Council