When I first began shopping around for a publisher for Charlotte Collins, I was met with the same story almost every time. It’s a well-written book, but no one reads about anything Jane Austen unless it has “Darcy” or “Pemberley” in the title.
|According to conventional wisdom,
you will like my book better if
I add the word Pemberley, even
if Charlotte never goes there.
Are you fooled?
Really? Seriously? That’s what it takes to sell an Austen sequel?
Based on my independent research, this appears to be true. Titles with these keywords seem to sell best.
But can this phenomenon be only because of the subject? Or do these books happen to be better written than their non-Darcy, non-Pemberley counterparts? Do they have nicer covers? Do they have some other magical come-hither quality? I don’t know.
What is the Austen experience?
The Austen experience does have a great deal to do with her well-drawn, compelling characters. We relate to Elizabeth both as she laughs at her neighbors and falls in love with the stalwart Mr. Darcy. In fact, we fall in love with him too. But I’ve read some “sequels” that were quite un-Austen-like and were connected only to her work through the names of the characters. It got me thinking. Isn’t there more to the Austen experience than just Darcy and Pemberley?
What about Austen’s…
- witty dialogue?
- biting social commentary?
- comically ridiculous characters?
- romantic tension and pure romance?
- universal themes of love, intimacy, and marriage?
- happy ending?
When I wrote Charlotte Collins, I tried to provide what I had been searching for recently in Austen sequels and even in other historical novels: the Austen experience.
I know, I know. I’m hardly Jane Austen, and whether or not I provided a reasonable facsimile of the true Austen experience is entirely based upon your opinion.
Sales and reviews indicate that my search for the Austen experience might be shared by others. So now I can ask outright:
What do you look for in an Austen sequel? Is it just Darcy and Pemberley?