Did you know you can buy Jane Austen toothpaste? Or Pride and Prejudice confetti? Or would you prefer an Austen air freshener? I write about odd and interesting Jane Austen merchandise in my Austen Authors blog. Found here.
This is re-posted from my Austen Authors’ blog:
In an earlier blog, I had written about the history of the novel and how Jane Austen played a role. I thought that in today’s post I would address the simple question: what genre of fiction does Austen fit into? But answering that question turned out to be a lot harder than I expected.
I had actually expected the question to be fairly easy to answer. She was a…Well…she wrote like a…Okay, her style was…. The fact is that Austen’s genre is hard to pin down. Today many people would consider her genre to be historical romance, but of course, that category didn’t exist in her day, and her books wouldn’t have been considered historical when she was writing them. The idea of “romantic” doesn’t necessarily fit either. Romantic literature at that time often had to do with prioritizing human emotions and imagination—as well as emphasizing the beauty of nature. It didn’t have the same connotation that it does today: primarily concerning romantic/erotic love between two human beings. Thus Austen’s readers would have considered Wordsworth’s poems, Walter Scott’s novels, or Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to be examples of romanticism; but they would not necessarily have given that label to most of the novels we consider romances today.
Another label that has been suggested for Austen’s works is comedy of manners, which is exemplified by Restoration comedies or Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest. Yet, those plays have a brittle humor not demonstrated by Austen’s works and lack her seriousness of purpose. In those works, poking fun at social convention is the primary goal and the happiness of the characters is secondary. Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing is also called a comedy of manners; and Elizabeth and Darcy sometimes resemble a Regency era Beatrice and Benedick. However, both Much Ado and Austen’s works have more drama and a greater seriousness of purpose than many of the typical comedies of manners—so I would not say it is an entirely accurate description.
Since the novel itself was still a relatively new literary form when Austen was writing, it was still quite malleable and without as many established traditions as older forms. Still, many novels had been written before Austen herself started to write. Many of the novels Austen read were in the “sentimental novel” tradition—which valorizes “fine feeling” and emphasizes scenes of distress and tenderness—and many others were in the gothic tradition—full of crumbling castles, thrilling villains, and trapped heroines. Austen’s novels (particularly Northanger Abbey and Emma) famously poked fun at these genres, but she was not free of their influence either. Her novels do feature women who face distress and tenderness and threats to their virtue or who are trapped by social circumstances, if not by portcullises and moats. So her novels can be said to have elements of these genres while not fully belonging to them.
Austen herself often saw her books fitting into a genre of realism which had a slender yet noble tradition that included Daniel Dafoe (Robinson Crusoe), Henry Fielding (Tom Jones), and Samuel Richardson (Pamela). All of these novels were considered to have greater realism—often greater psychological insight—than other novels of the era. Yet, even in this tradition, Austen stands out. These “realistic” novelists tend to pick sensationalistic subjects and larger-than-life characters. Austen described ordinary people in everyday situations: dances, walks in the country, dinners, polite conversation. One critic calls this approach “social realism.”
And there is yet another candidate for Austen’s genre; there is no doubt that her stories are comedies or that that describe romances. So “romantic comedy” seems like an obvious label. Yet Austen’s books don’t exactly follow the familiar formula from today’s romantic comedies. Much of Austen’s comedy, for example, comes from social satire of the people around the hero and heroine, rather than that typical romantic comedy staple: humorous situations that the couple find themselves in. In fact, I find Austen’s use of comedy strikingly specific—as if humor helped to leaven the criticism that Austen, a woman, was aiming at a male-dominated world.
Maybe the answer is that it’s impossible to actually categorize Austen into a specific genre. Perhaps because she started writing when the novel was so new and unformed, Austen’s work doesn’t easily fit into a specific category. Or maybe Austen is so hard to categorize because she’s a genre unto herself.
Nissa at Of Pens and Pages wrote a lovely review of Darcy’s Honor: “You can always expect a fresh and riveting story from Ms. Kincaid’s variations. Darcy’s Honor was gripping, heartbreaking and warming, and engaging.” Her blog also features an excerpt and a giveaway!
Darcy’s Honor is available in paperback on Amazon! Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Darcys-Honor-Pride-Prejudice-Variation/dp/0997553065/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1493231668&sr=8-2&keywords=darcy%27s+honor
Also, the book received another lovely 4.5 star review–this one at From Pemberley to Milton. Rita writes: “I can honestly say that I believe everyone will love this book. I highly recommend it to all readers who want a romantic, exciting, page turner book.” Her blog also features a giveaway and an excerpt from the novel!
I’m a guest at JustJane1813, where she gave my new novel, Darcy’s Honor, a 4.5 star review. There’s also an excerpt from the novel and a giveaway. In her review, Claudine writes,
“I also loved the camaraderie that was developed between Darcy and Elizabeth because it was built upon the slow, but steady development of trust and respect between them as their relationship evolved throughout the story. I felt that their collaborative efforts in this story mirrored, in many aspects, the ways that their relationship was crafted in The Secrets Between Darcy and Elizabeth, which was the book that started my love for Ms. Kincaid’s writing. Ms. Kincaid’s characterizations of Darcy and Elizabeth were spot-on and a true delight to read. I love her version of a besotted Darcy, especially when he tries to take charge of a situation for Elizabeth’s sake, as well as a strong-willed Elizabeth, who is determined to take charge of her own life, even when that path isn’t the easier one.
Ultimately, it is the liveliness of Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s minds, along with some help from a couple of unanticipated allies, that helps to save the day for our dear couple. Ms. Kincaid’s fluid and engrossing writing style make their journey an absolute pleasure for her readers to experience!”
Darcy’s Honor is available in paperback at Amazon! Here is the link: https://www.amazon.com/Darcys-Honor-Pride-Prejudice-Variation/dp/0997553065/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1492189671&sr=8-2&keywords=darcy%27s+honor
Below is an excerpt from Darcy’s Honor in which Darcy helps Elizabeth down from the back of a horse after encountering her on a road near Longbourn:
She clambered awkwardly down from the saddle and stood on unsteady legs as she smoothed her skirts around her ankles. Her whole body shook. “Are you unharmed, Miss Bennet?” he inquired, running his eyes up and down her form.
She gave a shaky laugh, and Darcy could not help admiring her fortitude. Many women of his acquaintance would have swooned after such an episode. “Yes, I thank you for your timely intervention. I believe the only damage is to my dignity. I assure you that I do not customarily ride a horse like a sack of potatoes.”
Darcy blinked. “Undignified” was not one of the adjectives he had thought to apply to the sight of Elizabeth on the back of a horse, particularly not with so much leg revealed. “Of course. I would imagine you are a far superior rider with a proper sidesaddle.”
She brushed errant strands of hair from her face. “You are very kind to make such an assumption given the display you just witnessed.”
How odd to be discussing Elizabeth’s horsemanship when something was so obviously wrong. How had she acquired a horse, and why was she riding at such speeds?
“On the contrary,” Darcy returned. “It requires great skill to remain atop a strange horse under such circumstances. I am quite impressed.”
She regarded him with narrowed eyes for a moment, as if assessing his sincerity. Finally, she said, “I thank you for the compliment, sir.”
Would she think him impertinent to inquire about the circumstances of her ride? But surely the unusual situation cried out for some kind of explanation. “You were in quite a hurry. Is there an emergency?” he asked.
She glanced over her shoulder at the road behind her. “No, I do not believe so.”
This ambiguous response left Darcy at something of a loss. Why had she ridden so fast if there was no urgency? And why did she watch the road so intently? Finally, he settled on a different but not unrelated line of inquiry. “I did note that you departed the church on foot.”
He had meant his words as a light-hearted jest but cursed himself for a fool when he saw the blood drain from Elizabeth’s face. He cleared his throat. “Does, er, the Longbourn stable boast such a creature?” he asked, knowing full well she had not had sufficient time to reach her home.
“No…” Her face was now quite red. “I…er…that is, I—”
“Borrowed the mount?” he inquired as though a simple explanation would work. He reached out and took her gloved hand in his. “Please be assured, Miss Bennet, I only wish to help.”
Her eyes widened as if she had not expected such an offer from him, although he could not imagine why. But he was then rewarded with a small smile and a slight loosening of the tension in her shoulders. She let out a long breath. “No, indeed. The horse actually is the property of”—she cleared her throat —“Viscount Billington.”
“Billington!” Darcy echoed in surprise, releasing her hand. That was the last name he expected to hear. “He lent you his mount?” Was Darcy wrong in assuming she wished to have no connection with the man?
“He did not precisely loan it to me—” She covered her mouth with her hand. “Although I am quite concerned he could label me a horse thief. I must be sure the beast is returned to him.” She pressed her lips together into a white line. “Perhaps I should not have— Oh, what a terrible tangle I have created!”
Suddenly, the various oddly shaped pieces of the puzzle fell into place. He took a step closer to her. “Billington accosted you on the road?” His voice was a low growl.
She nodded miserably but lifted her chin and met his gaze. “The horse was the only way to escape.”
To Darcy’s own surprise, he began to laugh. “Serves him right! You should keep the animal.”
Elizabeth’s eyes were wide, and her mouth hung open. Darcy could only imagine the expression on Lord Henry’s face when Elizabeth jumped into his horse’s saddle. Darcy laughed even harder.
Her brows drew together. “Did you, perhaps, help Mr. Lehigh finish off the communion wine?”
Thinking of the vicar sobered Darcy, and he shook his head. “Miss Bennet, to be clear, I believe you should be commended. A lady should always have a horse at hand when encountering such a man,” Darcy said.