How would marriage and financial security have changed Jane Austen’s life — and her writing? A new trilogy of novels by Collins Hemingway explores just such a question, beginning with “The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen.”
Jane Austen lived during the late 1700s and early 1800s in Hampshire, England, the spinster daughter of a clergyman. After his death, the family’s already limited financial circumstances became dire, and Jane, her mother and sister subsisted on the charity of her brothers. Austen’s writing explored the class system of 18th century England, and especially the plight of women in English society, often in satirical fashion. She turned down the only proposal of marriage she received, believing that every person deserved to marry for love.
Hemingway’s work explores what might have happened if Austen and her suitor, a wealthy neighboring landowner’s son, had built a relationship based on mutual respect and friendship instead of social standing and “suitability.” Austen’s well-known independent spirit would have tolerated nothing less.
“The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen” is just the first of three books, so it remains to be seen whether Hemingway’s premise is a successful one. However, he captures Austen’s style and personality, her pride and her prejudices, quite charmingly.
“The Marriage of Miss Jane Austen,” by Collins Hemingway. © 2015, AuthorHouse.