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Wednesday, March 18

Austen Author Insights: Jennifer Adams on Remarkably Jane

Gentle Readers: We are happy to welcome author Jennifer Adams today to chat about her new Jane Austen inspired book, Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen. This lovely new edition of quotations is packed full of illuminating, humorous, and candid quotes by prominent people about our favorite author and includes beautiful black and white Regency reminiscent illustrations, all in a gift quality edition.

Jennifer Adams:

I got the idea for Remarkably Jane when I was reading The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler. At the back of the book she includes a section that has some quotations about what Jane Austen’s contemporaries and family and different authors have said about her writing. Although I enjoyed the novel, I found that back section much more interesting. And I thought what would be really interesting would be an entire book of quotations like these, with old reviews and reviews from contemporary writers as well.

In compiling the book, I tried to select quotations that really illuminated Jane Austen and her writing, but I also picked excerpts that said something about the person I was quoting. For example, Sir Walter Scott’s quote is very verbose and flowery, and Mark Twain’s quote is really cranky. Leif Enger has these wonderfullyflawed characters in his novels, and as a reader you love them despite all their weaknesses, so I really liked that what he wrote about Jane Austen has to do with how an author treats her characters to make you love them.

Obviously I did a lot of research for the book. And it was really fun. I tried to find anything any well-known author had said about Austen and then pick the best things to include. Lots of people simply mentioned her as a favorite author or said how brilliant she was, but I was looking for quotations that also showed us something specific about her writing, her style, her characters, or the reasons why people love her. I did start with a huge list of my own favorite authors who I hoped had things to say about her. I figured if I loved a certain person’s writing, and Jane Austen is my favorite, maybe they would respond to her as well. And I found that many times that was the case. For example, P. D. James is my favorite mystery writer. And it turns out Austen is “overwhelmingly” her favorite novelist. Her quotation explains why she admires Jane Austen, and it also says a lot about why I respond to James as a writer.

I also wanted to include quotations by actors and actresses that were in film adaptations of Austen’s novels. I thought that they would have spent a lot of time thinking about and absorbing Austen and her world. I found some great insights by people like James McAvoy that really impressed me.

In the process of writing the book, I joined the Jane Austen Society of North America, which I’d been meaning to do for years. The book includes a great quote by Marsha Huff, the current president. There isn’t a chapter of JASNA in the Salt Lake City area, where I’m located, but I’ve convinced a lot of my friends to join up so hopefully we can start one. So many people respond to Jane Austen. One reason I think this continues to be true—and a lot of the quotes in the book reflect this—is that Austen is a modernist. I’ve been talking to a friend of mine about that a lot, and I’d say it’s not that she’s timeless as much as she is a modernist. The same social dynamics, the same things that were important to people in her world are important to us now—money, sex, struggle for individualism to name a few. People just dressed a little nicer back then!

Thank you Jennifer for joining us today. I own a copy of this new edition and for sheer joy of laughter and awe; Jennifer Adams has given us a treasure.

Jennifer is a self-acknowledged Janeite and bibliophile who works as a writer and editor in Salt Lake City. Although popular scholarship tells her that her favorite novel should be Persuasion, it is in fact Pride and Prejudice. Remarkably Jane is Jennifer's seventh book.

Further reading

A review of Remarkably Jane at Austenprose
Visit Jennifer Adams website
Purchase Remarkably Jane

Cheers, Laurel Ann, Austenprose