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I have put together a list of 6 clean and charming Jane Austen adaptations worth a read or two.
These books are PG in nature without much swearing (if any) and no steamy sex scenes. Enjoy!
#1. Emma, Mr. Knightley, and Chili-Slaw Dogs (Mary Jane Hathaway)
When it comes to Jane Austen’s Emma, I have two particular favorite modern adaptations. There is Juliet Archer‘s Emma that has adult language and a steamy scene and this clean Southern romance by Mary Jane Hathaway that gives John Knightley (Mr. Knightley’s brother) a bigger role.
Caroline Ashley is a journalist on the rise at the Washington Post until the sudden death of her father brings her back to Thorny Hollow to care for her mentally fragile mother. The only respite from the eternal rotation of bridge club meetings and garden parties is her longtime friend, Brooks Elliott. A professor of journalism, Brooks is the voice of sanity and reason in the land of pink lemonade and triple layer coconut cakes. But when she meets a fascinating, charismatic young man on the cusp of a brand new industry, she ignores Brooks’ misgivings and throws herself into the project.
Brooks struggles to reconcile his parents’ very bitter marriage with his father’s devastating grief at the recent loss of his wife. Caroline is the only bright spot in the emotional wreckage of his family life. She’s a friend and he’s perfectly happy to keep her safely in that category. Marriage isn’t for men like Brooks and they both know it… until a handsome newcomer wins her heart. Brooks discovers Caroline is much more than a friend, and always has been, but is it too late to win her back?
Emma Woodhouse = Caroline Ashley. A journalist at The Washington Post who has to come home to take care of her mentally fragile mother (after the death of her father).
Mr. Knightley = Brooks Elliott. Brooks is a journalism college professor.
Harriet Smith = Lexi Martinez. A budding artist.
Frank Churchill = Franklin Keene. A publisher.
Jane Fairfax = Lauren Fairchild. A photographer putting together a coffee book table.
John Knightley = Manning Elliott, Brooks’ brother who is married to Caroline’s sister.
Why I Love This Version
I loved the chemistry between Caroline and Brooks. There was one particular scene in a cafe when they are with Brooks’ brother where Hathaway did a fabulous job weaving together romance and comedy.
While it is written by a Christian author, there is no specific scene where one feels the subject of a sermon.
Note. This book is #2 in a series “Jane Austen Takes the South” but can be read as a standalone novel.
#2. Mount Hope: An Amish Retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park (Sarah Price)
I had previously read Sarah Price’s version of Persuasion which I felt fell flat especially due to the nature of some of the characters from Jane Austen’s novel. Mount Hope, however, was an excellent adaptation since many of the values from Mansfield Park translate so well to the Amish setting.
When her father can no longer provide for his large family, Fanny Price is sent away from her small Amish community in Colorado to live with her aunt’s family in Mount Hope, Ohio. Fanny immediately feels out of place at the Bontrager farm but finds a friend in her aunt’s stepson, Elijah Bontrager. As time passes, Fanny begins to long for their friendship to blossom into something more, but her hopes are dashed when Elijah starts to court someone else. With her uncle pressuring her to marry a man who can take her off his hands, Fanny must learn to rely on God for her future.
Fanny Price = Fanny Price, Amish relative of the Bontrager family.
Edmund Bertram = Elijah Bontrager, Fanny’s step-cousin.
Mary Crawford = Mary Coblentz, the niece of the Bishop.
Henry Crawford = Henry Coblentz, the flirtatious nephew of the Bishop.
Why I Love This Version
Fanny Price is a difficult character to translate to a modern setting. Many find her boring and bordering on being a doormat. So the decision to put Fanny into an Amish setting was genius.
For a Christian reader who is looking for a clean romance and chance to learn more about the Amish culture, this is the book for you.
#3. Northanger Alibi: The Jane Austen Diaries (Jenni James)
Allow me to preface this by saying that YES I was a fan of the Twilight saga and saw every single movie. Perhaps it was due to my age but when I saw the movies I was more attracted to Bella’s dad, Charlie (Billy Burke), then either of the teenage fantasies. So reading a teen romance like Northanger Alibi I tried not to take it too seriously and that allowed me to see how Jenni James was writing a parody and nothing in the story was to be taken too literally.
The Russo family and Seattle, Washington, are no match for Claire Hart and her savvy knowledge of all things vampire-related. Thanks to her obsession with the Twilight series, if there is anyone who would know a vampire when she saw one, it’s Claire. And she’s positive totally hot Tony Russo is a vampire – she just has to prove it!
In this modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey, follow Claire’s hilarious journey on her first summer adventure away from home, where she learns everything isn’t what it seems, and that in some instances, reality is way better than anything she’d ever find in a book.
Why I Love this Version
Suggested Reading: 4 Happily Ever After Romance Novels To Read
#4. Persuasion: A Latter-Day Tale (Rebecca H. Jamison)
Persuasion is my all-time favorite Jane Austen novel so I have read any adaptation I could get my hands on. Time and time again I find myself returning to Jamison’s modern-day version that is free of curse words and sexual content. While I am not a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I have never felt like I am being preached at except for a couple of small scenes involving the reading of the Doctrine & Covenants and a Blessing.
When Anne broke off her engagement eight years ago, she thought she’d never see Neil Wentworth again. But when Neil’s brother buys the house she grew up in, it seems fate has other plans in store, and Anne is woefully unprepared for the roller coaster of emotions that accompanies Neil’s return.
Anne = Anne. An accountant.
Frederick Wentworth = Neil. A police captain who was Anne’s first love.
William Elliot = Will. A lobbyist who romances Anne.
Why I Love This Version
It seems hard to find adaptations of Persuasion that are not filled with huge amounts of foul language and sexual content. So I love Jamison’s clean adaptation with her modern changes to include 3 NEW characters to the story. Jack is Neil’s brother who buys Anne’s family home, Linda is Jack’s wife who joins the Stake Choir with Anne, and Marcy is Anne’s roommate. They all serve as the conscience for our romantic leads prodding them in the right direction much as the reader would like to do.
My only issue with the story has to be with the lead character of Anne. She is constantly freaking out about her makeup (or lack thereof) which seems not in keeping with the Mormon faith. Also, we all know that Anne is constantly being “rescued” by Wentworth in the original and in this version too but Anne keeps freaking out because she doesn’t like being “rescued” hence making it a bigger issue than it ever was before.
Note. This author is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and includes portions that some might find “preachy”.
#5. Pride and Prescience: Or, A Truth Universally Acknowledged (Carrie Bebris)
I love a good cozy mystery and Carrie Bebris delivers in her series featuring Mr. and Mrs. Darcy as amateur sleuths in line with Agatha Christie‘s Tommy and Tuppence. In the first book, the Darcys must uncover the truth of Caroline Bingley’s charismatic fiance.
The lovely Caroline Bingley is engaged to marry a rich and charismatic American. Unfortunately, this windswept courtship is marred by many strange events– nocturnal wanderings, spooked horses, carriage accidents, and even an apparent suicide attempt. Soon the whole Bingley family seems the target of a mysterious plot, with only the Darcys recognizing the danger. Sinister forces are afoot and the Darcys must get to the bottom of the plot before the blushing bride descends into madness–or worse.
Why I Love This Version
#6. Colonel Brandon’s Diary (Sense and Sensibility Adaptation by Amanda Grange)
This is the story of James Brandon (aka Colonel Bandon) and his first love, Eliza, and later love for Marianne from Sense and Sensibility. This novel from Amanda Grange’s diary series (including Darcy, Tilney, and Wentworth) draws us into the backstory of Colonel Brandon, and by the time he meets Marianne, we are rooting for her to love him since he is everything a hero should be.