I’ve finally been able to catch up on some JAFF (Jane Austen Fan Fiction) stories. Since leaving the UK in November I haven’t had much time for the world of Darcy, Elizabeth et al., not only because I have had limited internet time, but also because my favorite JAFF site has been down. HG (Hyacinth Gardens) is sorely missed, although it looks like the site might come alive again in the next few weeks. Fingers and toes crossed!!!!
For now I’m getting my fix from AHA (A Happy Assembly) at www.meryton.com, a lot of my HG favorites post there and it’s given me a chance to discover a few I haven’t read before I’m trying to mix the more angst ridden stories with more fluffy ones, although I find both types make me cry for different reasons of course. I must say it’s getting a little annoying to always cry at the drop of a hat, but I suppose after 20 years of it I should resign myself to the truth, I’m a soppy, emotional, hopeless romantic.
I finally found the courage to watch The Duchess a week or so back, and predictably cried my eyes out. Not being a big Keira fan, I can’t forgive her Godawful Elizabeth Bennet, I didn’t want to watch her make a mockery of G.’s life, but thankfully she was REALLY GOOD (More than I can say about Kirstin Dunst as Marie Antoinette, but I won’t digress even further). Poor G. such a sad story, sad life. What really PI**ED me off when the trailers were showing last year was the Princess Di angle. Seriously what was the point of that? G.’s life was interesting enough, I would say far more interesting than Princess Di’s (although I love her too), and there should be no need to exploit Princess Di’s memory to get the cinema crowds in.
Anyway back to the original topic, JAFF. I’m currently reading a few different WIPs, mostly moderns as I tend to get annoyed with the Regency that get facts etc. wrong. Unless they come particularly recommended I stay away until they are complete and then browse the comments.
A modern story I’ve been reading for a while now is Miscommunication by JulietR, it was posted on HG until it went down, but luckily it’s also found on AHA. It’s a typical P&P (Pride and Prejudice) fan fic, with Lizzy and Darcy on center stage. However it starts on an interesting premise; Darcy has married his terminally ill cousin Anne, this is to give her a few good years away from Lady Cath and experience some good things before her time comes. Lizzy meets Darcy in Anne’s finally year, and Lizzy and Anne develop a sort of friendship. Then after Anne dies (well a while later, we do have all the usual problems, Wickham, Hunsford and so on), Darcy and Lizzy start going out. And that’s where we are at for now. Not sure how much is left now but it must be coming to a close I’m sure. It’s such a delight to read, and I really appreciate the footnotes at the end of each post, save me having to google things to find out what they are. In any case it is a story I would highly recommend. It’s low on angst, the times when it does look a bit dicey everything is quickly resolved. It is so well written, some chapters will have you laughing, others crying and some will have you doing both.
Another modern I’m reading is Forgotten First Impressions by Excentryke, which has recently cranked up the angst with a heartbreaking plot twist. The premise of the story is that Elizabeth is a single mother living in New York with her sister Jane and friend Charlotte. Her daughter Mabel is the result of one night of passion with a man Lizzy can’t remember, not really anyway, when she was in college. Enter Darcy who had his heart broken many years back by a woman he fell instantly for and shared a passionate night with. See where this is going? Well your guess would be right but the twists and turns that take us to these revelations are very entertaining. I won’t say more about it except it’s got a crazy, delusional Jane in it. I thought I’d seen the bitchiest Jane of all times in one of Amber’s (HG Queen) stories (can’t remember the name right now), but this Jane is just amazingly cruel. You have to read it, but if you are an angst weenie maybe you should stay away for a little while, the author has said things will start to resolve now but how quickly is anyone’s guess. I don’t mind though, I’d go mad without a regular serving of angst.
The next story I want to bring to your attention is Cherchez La Femme by Irene, another modern where a M.E. called Esther Brighton is framed by persons unknown and convicted of a drug trafficking charge. However instead of going to jail she is recruited by the CIA to work in a spec ops division, where she can put her M.E. skills to good use. Goodbye Esther Brighton, hello Elizabeth Bennet. I love the premise, it’s well written and well thought out, and I can’t wait to see how it all works out.
A modern with a different story and main character is The Modern Caroline Bingley by Excentryke. It features; you’ve guessed it, Caroline Bingley and starts the day before Darcy marries Elizabeth. I’ve only read two chapters so far, but eagerly looking forward to more (I know there have been a few more posted). Caro’s love interest (I assume) is a guy called Max, and he seems to have his own personal baggage. And Caro of course needs a cargo plane of her very own to carry all her baggage. As I said it’s promising, mainly because Caroline is made human and is not being passed off as some sort of ridiculous caricature. Definitely a story to watch.
I’m not only reading moderns though, I do find my way into the regency section. The regency I’m reading at the moment is a sequel to the exquisitely written Teurig by MAB, and is called Love Will Find A Way. The story starts a few months after Lizzy and Darcy and Jane and Bingley are married. An important government document disappears, and the puzzle solving sisters are called upon by the government to continue their work. The opening premise has some similarities with a Sherlock Holmes story, where his brother seeks his help to find a missing document which could possibly cause war. From there though Love Will Find… follows its own path; finding the document might be what they are working towards, but what happens on the way is far more important. Darcy resents not being included in all aspects of Elizabeth’s life, and Lizzy is scared that she will lose herself if she surrenders everything. While it’s a cleverly written mystery, which I know will be as exciting and entertaining as Teurig, it is also a story about the trials of marriage and how to make it work (well at least I hope they will solve that issue in the end), and I eagerly await all new chapters.
While I’m having fun reading all these new stories I am missing a few from HG. A Mother’s Favorite Wish is one of them; though I’ve heard it’s also located outside HG so I will go hunting for it in the next few days. Another story I need to finish, and I know it’s finished at DWG (Derbyshire Writers Guild), is Shem’s The End Is The Beginning…. The last chapter I read was at the airport in Manchester before flying off to Abu Dhabi in November, and I can’t wait to read the whole thing. The premise was very original and I’m sure there is an older post about it, so I won’t harp on about it. Once I’ve read it all I’ll harp some more though (so now you are warned).
Now I feel I should reveal my reason for returning to JAFF after my long absence. Well I bought a book called The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough. It’s set 20 years after the end of P&P, and from the back cover write-up had an interesting premise. Well I can only say one thing; it was a pile of crap. The author must really hate P&P; I can see no other explanation. I never finished it; it was just too damn depressing and not really that well written. The characters are caricatures, nowhere near believable or realistic. It was surprising really as McCullough wrote The Thorn Birds, which was excellent. So maybe her strength lies in creating her own characters and not altering other peoples, as a fan fiction writer (I don’t care how accomplished the writer is, if you take other peoples characters it’s fan fic) she kinda sucks. Well in any case, my meeting with that terrible book made me flee back to the warm and fuzzy world of online JAFF, where some true gems are hidden.
In my next JAFF post I think I might concentrate on complete stories, and maybe do a top 10. We’ll see.