Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Gift from Mom 🙂
For those of you not yet acquainted with The Jane Austen Diaries by Jenni James, it is a series of Jane Austen modern-adaptations for Young Adult audiences. To date, there are five books in this series, but I believe the author has several more planned. In chronological order, The Jane Austen Diaries include: Pride and Popularity, Persuaded, Emmalee, Mansfield Ranch, and Northanger Alibi (even though this one says Book #2, it takes place years later). They are fun and sweet tales that connect with each other and take place in Farmington, New Mexico.
High school senior, Emmalee Bradford has had “very little to distress or vex her.” She is beautiful, popular, loved by her family; she is a big fish in the little pond of her town. If she ever faces any trouble all she has to do is flash her famous “Bradford smile” and she is sure to get out of (or get away with) anything. Emmalee’s senior year seems to be off to a wonderful start so far, with a new bestie – Hannah Smith, a new puppy, and the return of her neighbor and close family friend, Chase Anderson. But throughout the course of the year, Emmalee learns that she can make some pretty big blunders, blunders so big even her smile can’t save her…
I’ve greatly enjoyed reading the books in The Jane Austen Diaries series, I love finding my weekly dose of Jane Austen in such bubbly, bright, and light-hearted reads. One aspect of this series that I greatly enjoy is how Jenni James doesn’t do a very literal translation of Jane Austen’s novels and characters. She makes sure her story is something that is relevant and understandable for today’s YA readers, even if it means giving a character the axe or cropping out some scenes.
Another aspect of this story I greatly enjoy is seeing some characters pull double-duty and embody traits of more than one Jane Austen character! For example, our heroine, Emmalee Bradford, is the Emma Woodhouse of this story, but she was also the Caroline Bingley in Pride and Popularity (a very clever blend!). In addition, Cassidy Hart, who seemed like the Lydia Bennet of Pride and Popularity, is also the Jane Fairfax of Emmalee. Although in some cases, I found myself knowing I’ve seen the character before but not remembering their previous history. Since this is a multi-book series, it would be awesome if each came with a character guide in the beginning explaining who all the key players are and how they are connected in each novel.
I also love how these books teach modern-day morals and cautions to young readers in the same tone Jane Austen’s novels do. There is no profanity, adult situations, or promiscuity to worry about in these Young Adult reads. Instead these heroines learn life lessons similar to those of their Regency counterparts. Persuaded shows teens what happens when you give into peer pressure, Northanger Alibi teaches the dangers of thinking all fiction is reality, and Emmalee shows readers how it is never good to have an elevated view of your own superior opinions.
Lastly, I must also add how much I loved the hero of this tale, Chase Anderson, is Emmalee’s “knight in shining armor” and I absolutely fell hard for him. I can’t tell which Anderson brother I love more – Chase from Emmalee or Taylor from Pride and Popularity!
Looking for a wonderful Young Adult series to share with any young readers in your life, I definitely recommend you try The Jane Austen Diaries, and read them for yourself too! It will be a great way to introduce Jane Austen and convert these young readers into Junior Janeites!! 😉