There’s a reason classics have a strong hold in the canon. They’re timeless, they transport us across decades and centuries, and whatever genre you prefer we can all still ooh and awe over them together. But if we’re talking real classic – as in so classic that literally thousands of adaptions have been made in their name – few authors climb higher in the charts than Jane Austen. From film and tv to books and cultural references, Austen’s work has been with us for for over 200 years, and the romantic in us all crosses our fingers for 200 more. Among her work, there’s no single book that adapters flock to more than Pride and Prejudice. So of course, you can expect a few P&P retellings in this list, but in an attempt to do her whole library of works justice (key word attempt), we’ve also included some reworkings of other novels.
Next time any one of your Austen copies gets too beaten up to re-read again, try one of these incredible retellings.
In this retelling of Pride and Prejudice, two sisters appropriately nicknamed Liz and Jane arrive in Cincinnati to care for their overbearing mother and two rowdy sisters. But beyond the family drama essential to any Austen novel, the two sisters find themselves wrapped up in their own respective romantic woes. Modern twist? Mr. Darcy is a renowned neurosurgeon. Hubba hubba!
Because every great story deserves a zombie twist, Grahame-Smith brings you a classic tale with the added perks of gore, epic battles, and blood-thirsty lust. It’s a perfect read for the conflicted lover of eighteenth century romance and contemporary sci fi – Smith fits perfectly on your bookshelf between Mary Shelley and Neal Stephenson.
Whether the original Emma makes you gush or want to slowly pull your hair out, this retelling is worth visiting if you’re a true Austen fan. Emma, as the title suggests, retells Austen’s story of a genteel ‘not a girl but not yet a woman’ thrown into misguided romance. Emma is a character that Austen herself has called “a heroine who no one but myself will much like,” but if you can stomach the spoiled and egocentric protagonist, the story has a deliciously gooey center.
Hint: if you can handle Cher from Clueless (an Emma adaption) you can handle this Emma.
How could you have an Austen adaption list without Bridget Jones’s Diary? It’s Pride and Prejudice with a humorous twist – not to mention complementary movies to tandem your read.
Although we can’t quite call it a sequel, this retelling follows Pride and Prejudice post all’s-well-that-ends-well and begins where the prior left off: at the Pemberley estate. In this adaption, Wikham is dead and Elizabeth, Darcy, and Lydia grapple to figure out the full story. It’s the entire Friends cast you grew to love in the original, returned to readers in a murder mystery thriller.
You’ve read Pride and Prejudice and Emma (and everything in-between) but still, your heart melts most for Northanger Abbey. Unlike some of Austen’s other works, Northanger Abbey is satirical and overtly comical. Set at a Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, McDermid’s take employs the same story, wit and humor, retold with a modern lens.