Books To Read After Jane Austen

It’s no secret that Jane Austen’s novels have captivated readers for over two centuries with their blend of romance, wit, and astute social commentary. From the comedic mishaps of Emma Woodhouse to the stoic resilience of Elizabeth Bennet, Austen’s heroines and the worlds they inhabit continue to engage us.

This enduring love for Austen’s work often leaves readers longing for more once they’ve turned the last page of Persuasion or Pride and Prejudice. If you’re in that camp, fear not. This post aims to offer a selection of books that, while not written by Austen herself, carry the torch of her distinctive style, nuanced character portrayals, and thematic richness.

The proposed novels range from those set in Austen’s own Regency period to contemporary works and even a few Austen-influenced nonfiction picks.

Happy reading!

Understanding Jane Austen’s Style

The magic of Jane Austen’s writing lies in her unique literary style and thematic explorations. This understanding forms the basis of our book recommendations.

Jane Austen’s Literary Style

Jane Austen’s works stand out for their clever blend of romance, social critique, humor, and irony. Austen used her sharp wit to expose the follies and hypocrisies of her society, often using dialogue to reflect her characters’ true nature. Her romantic storylines are known for their realism and subtle depth, far removed from the melodrama often associated with love stories.

Thematic Explorations in Austen’s Novels

Austen’s novels are renowned for their nuanced exploration of themes such as marriage, class, morality, and gender dynamics. Her exploration of societal and familial pressures around marriage, the role of love in relationships, and the constraints of class and status offer readers much to ponder. The dynamics of gender, particularly the limited options available to women of her time, also play a significant role in her novels.

By identifying these defining features of Austen’s style and themes, we can look for other authors who tackle similar issues or mimic her distinctive approach to storytelling. In the following sections, we’ll introduce books that either directly or indirectly echo Jane Austen, offering readers an extended journey through Austen-esque literary landscapes.

The Regency and Victorian Era – Building on Austen’s Context

Diving into books from the same historical context as Austen’s can provide a richer understanding of the society that shaped her narratives. The Regency and Victorian eras produced many talented authors whose works share themes with Austen’s novels.

Regency and Victorian Authors

The Regency and Victorian periods were a vibrant time in literature, with many authors tackling similar issues as Austen did in her novels. While Austen’s perspective was often more domestic, some of her contemporaries and successors delved deeper into social critique and psychological insight, offering a broader lens on the times.

Recommended Books from the Period

  • “Wives and Daughters” by Elizabeth Gaskell: Gaskell’s unfinished novel is a richly detailed study of provincial life, focusing on the social dynamics among families and the inevitable clash between old ways and new.
  • “Middlemarch” by George Eliot: Known as one of the greatest novels in the English language, ‘Middlemarch’ explores a wide range of social and political issues with psychological depth and sensitivity.

These novels, while offering a different flavor from Austen’s work, still inhabit a similar societal context. The authors weave compelling narratives that offer valuable insight into the period’s customs, expectations, and constraints, echoing Austen’s own portrayals of Regency England.

Modern Interpretations and Retellings

Austen’s stories have remained so powerful and relatable that they have inspired countless contemporary authors to retell and adapt them in novel ways. These modern interpretations, while different in setting and time, often maintain the wit, romance, and social critique characteristic of Austen’s novels.

Contemporary Austen Adaptations

Modern retellings often transport Austen’s narratives to contemporary settings, presenting familiar characters and plotlines in fresh and inventive ways. These novels allow readers to engage with Austen’s stories from a modern perspective, adding a layer of relatability and immediacy to the beloved tales.

Recommended Modern Interpretations

  • “Eligible” by Curtis Sittenfeld: This modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice transposes the Bennet family to contemporary Cincinnati, offering a hilarious and biting satire of modern life.
  • “Emma: A Modern Retelling” by Alexander McCall Smith: In this reimagining of Austen’s Emma, Smith brings the meddlesome, well-meaning heroine into the 21st century, preserving the original’s humor and charm while adding his own distinctive touch.

While these books take Austen’s stories in new directions, they remain true to the spirit of her works. Readers who enjoy seeing classic tales spun in innovative ways are likely to find these modern interpretations both engaging and thought-provoking.

Contemporary Novels That Capture Austen’s Spirit

While Austen’s original stories remain unmatched, there are many contemporary novels that echo her distinctive blend of romance, wit, and social commentary. These books, while set in modern times, capture the Austen-esque spirit that readers love.

Modern Novels with Austen-esque Elements

These novels may not be direct retellings or adaptations, but they draw on key aspects of Austen’s work: nuanced characters, humorous observations of societal norms, romantic entanglements, and the exploration of moral and ethical dilemmas.

Recommended Contemporary Novels

  • “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion: This novel, about a socially awkward genetics professor who designs a scientific survey to find the perfect wife, uses humor and romance to explore human relationships in a way that is reminiscent of Austen’s wit and character insight.
  • “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand” by Helen Simonson: This story about a widowed major in an English village who falls in love with a Pakistani shopkeeper explores themes of social class, race, and the importance of personal integrity. The nuanced portrayal of character and society echoes Austen’s work.

These novels offer a modern lens to view themes and styles similar to those found in Austen’s novels. They are perfect for Austen fans who are looking for something contemporary but with the same charm and insight found in her works.

Historical Fiction Beyond Austen

While Austen’s novels provide a charming and insightful look into the Regency period, there’s a broader world of historical fiction that can offer different yet equally engaging perspectives. These books, set in various historical periods, maintain an Austen-esque flavor in their storytelling.

Historical Fiction with an Austen-esque Flavor

Historical fiction allows us to immerse ourselves in different time periods, exploring diverse cultures, societies, and historical events. When these narratives combine rich historical detail with a focus on character development, societal norms, and personal relationships, they resonate with the aspects that make Austen’s work so appealing.

Recommended Historical Novels

  • “The Other Boleyn Girl” by Philippa Gregory: This novel tells the tale of Mary Boleyn, the lesser-known sister of Anne Boleyn. Gregory’s exploration of courtly life, romance, and the position of women in Tudor England provides an engaging narrative with a hint of Austen’s societal critique.
  • “Girl With a Pearl Earring” by Tracy Chevalier: Inspired by the famous painting, Chevalier’s novel imagines the life of the painting’s model. The exploration of class, gender roles, and unfulfilled romance in 17th century Holland echoes some of the themes prevalent in Austen’s work.

These historical novels provide an expansion on the societal explorations that Austen’s novels engage in, offering readers a deeper look into different periods and societies, while still touching upon familiar themes.

Austen-Inspired Nonfiction

For readers looking to delve deeper into Austen’s world, there are numerous nonfiction books that explore her era, her influence on literature, and the themes she grappled with in her novels. These works can provide enriching context and deepen your understanding of Austen’s works.

Nonfiction Exploring Austen’s World and Influence

Nonfiction books about Austen and her time offer a wide array of insights, from analyses of her narratives and characters to examinations of the socio-historical context of her novels. They allow readers to see her work from a different perspective and to appreciate her influence and relevance more fully.

Recommended Nonfiction Reads

  • “What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved” by John Mullan: This book delves into the details of Austen’s novels, examining lesser-noticed elements to shed light on her literary genius. It’s an insightful read for anyone looking to understand Austen’s work on a deeper level.
  • “Jane Austen’s England” by Roy and Lesley Adkins: A vibrant portrait of the everyday realities of life in Austen’s time. It’s an essential companion for any Austen enthusiast seeking a more comprehensive understanding of the era in which she lived and wrote.

These nonfiction books offer an opportunity to dive deeper into Austen’s world, shedding light on her life, her times, and the rich complexities of her novels.

Additional Recommendations

For readers still eager to discover more literature echoing the themes and style of Jane Austen, here are ten additional recommendations. Each of these books offers a unique perspective, yet all share similarities with Austen’s unforgettable storytelling.

“North and South” by Elizabeth Gaskell

This novel explores the tension between the industrial North and the rural South of England during the Victorian era. Gaskell’s keen observation of social and class dynamics aligns well with Austen’s themes.

“The Age of Innocence” by Edith Wharton

This Pulitzer-winning novel delves into the rigid conventions of upper-class New York society in the 1870s. Wharton’s nuanced character development and social critique echo Austen’s work.

“Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell” by Susanna Clarke

A historical fantasy set in 19th-century England, this novel is a delightful mix of magic and manners, appealing to fans of Austen’s wit and period detail.

“Bridget Jones’s Diary” by Helen Fielding

This modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice in diary format combines humor and romance in a style reminiscent of Austen’s lighter moments.

“The American Heiress” by Daisy Goodwin

A Gilded Age tale of an American girl entering British high society, the novel’s exploration of wealth, status, and romance shares common themes with Austen’s works.

“The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” by Alexander McCall Smith

While set in modern Botswana, the series features engaging female characters, thoughtful social commentary, and a charming narrative style that Austen fans may enjoy.

“A Room with a View” by E.M. Forster

This early 20th-century novel, exploring the rigid social codes of the period and the longing for personal freedom, resonates with Austen’s themes of social constraints and personal happiness.

“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

A heartwarming tale set in the aftermath of WWII, it features a strong, intelligent female protagonist and a close-knit community that Austen fans may find appealing.

“My Cousin Rachel” by Daphne du Maurier

This suspenseful novel presents a complex, mysterious female character and explores themes of trust and deception in relationships, offering a darker twist on Austen-like narratives.

“Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon

A time-travel romance with strong historical detail, this series features a capable, intelligent heroine and complex character relationships that may appeal to fans of Austen’s strong female protagonists and romantic entanglements.

These recommendations further demonstrate the wide-reaching influence of Austen’s themes and narrative style, suggesting that readers can find “the next Jane Austen” in many different forms and genres.


Whether you’re yearning for more novels set in the Regency period, looking for a modern interpretation of Austen’s tales, or wanting to delve into historical fiction with an Austen-esque flair, this list offers a variety of options. The novels recommended here, each in their own way, encapsulate the spirit of Jane Austen’s unforgettable characters, her keen social observations, and her compelling narrative style.

Further Exploration

Even after you’ve made your way through this list, the world of Austen-inspired literature is far from exhausted. Many other novels, across a variety of genres and time periods, carry a touch of Austen’s genius. Keep exploring, and you’re sure to find more books that resonate with Austen’s timeless appeal.

A Celebration of Austen’s Legacy

Finally, remember that every book read post-Austen is not merely an attempt to fill the void left by her novels, but also a celebration of her enduring impact on literature. As you delve into each new book, enjoy the echoes of Austen’s wit, her wisdom, and her remarkable ability to portray the human condition.

In essence, the quest for “what to read after Jane Austen” is a journey of literary exploration, rich with novels that reflect, reinterpret, and pay homage to Austen’s enduring brilliance. Happy reading!

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