Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
The Fan Phenomena series by Intellect Books is a collection of books that celebrates the many iconic and popular fandoms in our culture today. To date there are fourteen books published in the Fan Phenomena series with two more expected to be published later this year. Some subjects in this series include: Star Wars, The Hunger Games, Audrey Hepburn, Sherlock Holmes, Dr. Who, and of course, Jane Austen! Each book in this series highlights different facets of each fandom and explores how fans celebrate, appreciate, and share their love for these specific subjects, shows/films, or people.
Fan Phenomena: Jane Austen is a collection of eleven essays and four interviews. Each essay is contributed by various literary scholars, writers, and academics and focuses on a different area of of the Jane Austen fandom. Included in this elegant collection is over 70 color images representing book covers, memorabilia, media screenshots, and Janeites attending various Jane Austen events. The essays range from eight to thirteen pages in length and include works cited and end notes.
A book just devoted to Jane Austen culture and fandom?!? Sounds amazing, right? For me, it was like reading about the world in which I live! 🙂 For the most part, I thought all the essays were interesting, concise, and well-researched. I greatly enjoyed the interview segments – I loved the people selected to be interview and found the discussions thoughtful and enlightening. I especially enjoyed learning about the evolution of the Jane Austen Festival in Bath, And overall, I greatly admired the elegant and attractive design and construction of the book, and appreciated the organized and progressive order of chapters. However, my one complaint about the book’s design is that the print feels unnecessarily small (especially when there is a very large top margin.) I think some larger images would have been a nice touch too.
Readers who, like myself, immerse themselves in all things Jane Austen may not find all the material presented in this compilation to be entirely new. Many topics such as Jane Austen monster mash-ups, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, and Mr. Darcy have often been canvassed and the subject of articles and essays before. And while I still found these essays to be well-written and informative, there were others that I found more edifying.
My favorite essays were: “A Grand Tour of Pemberley” – which highlighted and gave the history of the various estates used in Jane Austen film adaptations, “Who Am I? Relationships Between Reader and Heroine Explored Through the Popular ‘Which Jane Austen Heroine Are You?’ Quizzes” – which expounded upon the personalities of Jane Austen’s heroines and how contemporary readers still feel connected to these timeless characters, and “’She’s Everywhere’: Jane Austen in the Blogsphere” – which explored my favorite domain – the world of Jane Austen blogs.” The one essay I wasn’t too fond of was “In the Regency Alternate Universe: Jane Austen and Fan Fiction Culture” – which provided a very narrow scope of JAFF online and highlighted only one Thor-inspired tale. (c’mon, the world of JAFF is soooo massive!)
The celebration and fandom of Jane Austen’s novels truly is a cultural phenomenon! This compilation wonderfully combines fan appreciation with academic study and can be enjoyed by die-hard Janeites and new Austen admirers alike! I recommend this book for readers who like to “geek-out” over Jane Austen!
NOTE: I don’t usually comment on errors since they usually don’t hamper my reading, but unfortunately I found some careless errors made by the contributors in their essays that disappointed me a little – such as citing the wrong Emma adaptation and misspelling a blog’s name wrong in several places.