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Main characters from the latest Netflix Austen adaptation Sandition where hero and heroine are dancing
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Even after hundreds of years, this iconic author’s novels that are filled with humor, drama, feminism and romance are eagerly read and often adapted into films.

In light of Jane Austen’s legacy receiving renewed attention, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Austen is one of the most epic authors in history. This year, Netflix will release a new film adaptation of “Persuasion” starring Dakota Johnson, Cosmo Jarvis and Henry Golding. In addition, the TV adaptation of her last, unfinished novel “Sanditon” recently returned for its second season on PBS.

Known for sweet romance and savage one-liners in equal doses, her books prove that no one else can write a female-centric love story as Austen can. Her novels explore the reality of being a woman with no legal rights in the nineteenth century, yet always have a happy ending in which her heroines are financially secure and (with the exception of her novella, “Lady Susan”) marry their true love.

Fans of British dramas such as “Downton Abbey” will love the worlds created by Austen, highlighting her own and exuding feminism at a time when that wasn’t even a concept. Whether you crave a good laugh, a scoop of drama, or a perpetual happy ending alongside romance and feminism, look no further — Austen’s got you covered.

When you’re in the mood for … Enemies to Lovers

Austen practically invented the fictional enemies-to-lovers trope with her iconic and arguably most famous novel, “Pride and Prejudice.” Banter and yearning abound as the characters attend balls and visit each other’s homes, only to make the horrifying discovery that the other is present. Throw in five sisters, a mother who wants them all married ASAP alongside an oddball cousin, and hilarity ensues. Yet, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy’s antics are more than just hilarious — both characters epitomize the kind of person who helps another become the best version of themselves after having to be humbled quite a bit. If you’ve ever found yourself catching feelings for the person you said you never would, then read this book first.

Notable quote: “In vain have I struggled. It will not do. My feelings will not be repressed. You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you.”

Best film adaptation: “Pride & Prejudice” (1995) starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth.

When you’re in the mood for … Badass Women 

Austen’s novella, “Lady Susan,” might be short, but it packs a punch. Lady Susan is a cunning, manipulative character who will stop at nothing to get what she wants. Her pursuit of pleasure and power was groundbreaking for its time, and the story’s epistolary format makes the drama all the more gasp-worthy. If you want to read about a woman ruled by her head, not her heart, check this novel out.

Notable quote: “My dear Alicia, of what a mistake were you guilty in marrying a man of his age! Just old enough to be formal, ungovernable and to have the gout; too old to be agreeable, too young to die.”

Best film adaptation: “Love & Friendship” (2016) starring Kate Beckinsale.

When you’re in the mood for … Getting in Your Feels

Sense and Sensibility” isn’t exactly a beach read. There are near-death experiences, devastating secrets and a precarious financial situation for a mother and her three daughters after the death of the patriarch. There’s no lack of comedic moments, for sure, and the relationship between two of the sisters that are learning to cope with their heartbreak is touching. But ultimately, if you’re in the mood for getting in touch with some of your heavier emotions, this book is a perfect read.

Notable quote: “It is not time or opportunity that is to determine intimacy; it is disposition alone. Seven years would be insufficient to make some people acquainted with each other, and seven days are more than enough for others.”

Best film adaptation: “Sense and Sensibility” (1995) starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Hugh Grant.

When you’re in the mood for … Friends to Lovers

Emma” is a hilarious novel about a woman who is a wealthy member of the gentry and therefore chooses to stay independent and never marry. Though she has good intentions and an admirably strong will, she also has a bit of a superiority complex and can be very misguided at times. However, her brother-in-law, who’s watched her grow up and has fallen into the role of her perpetual lecturer, may just make her rethink a thing or two. If you’re craving friends who blossom into something more, give this book a read.

Notable quote: “Oh! I always deserve the best treatment, because I never put up with any other…”

Best film adaptation: “Emma” (2020) starring Anya Taylor-Joy and Johnny Flynn.

When you’re in the mood for … Second Chance Love 

Persuasion” is another non-beach read on account of all the illness, injury and death that occur. The heroine is 27 years old and unmarried — which was stigmatized at the time — having lost her chance at true love and happiness by tragically putting her fate in the hands of others. However, there is such a bittersweet, nostalgic feel to this novel that it gives the reader hope that people — and particularly women — can rewrite the ending to their stories. If you’ve ever wanted, given, or received a second chance at something, read this book.

Notable quote: “Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands.”

Best film adaptation: “Persuasion” (2007) starring Sally Hawkins and Rupert Penry-Jones.

When you’re in the mood for … Coming of Age 

Admittedly, “Northanger Abbey” is my favorite Austen novel. The heroine, Catherine Morland, is relatable and entertaining as she grows up and learns from her mistakes. Morland has an amazing character arc, all while falling for the wittiest and most charming Austen hero, the one and only Henry Tilney. If you want to read about a heroine who is not extraordinary in a traditional sense but has a huge heart and is remarkable in her own right, make sure to give this novel a read.

Notable quote: “I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature. My attachments are always excessively strong.”

Best film adaptation: “Northanger Abbey” (2007) starring Felicity Jones and JJ Feild.

Writer Profile

Debbie Aspromonti

Hofstra University
Literatures in English

Debbie is a senior Literatures in English major at Hofstra University. She loves to write and is passionate about books, Broadway musicals, social issues and the law.

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