cover image Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom

Among the Janeites: A Journey Through the World of Jane Austen Fandom

Deborah Yaffe. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner, $15.95 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-0-547-75773-5

It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is a global brand, but can an individual’s love for Austen and the society of educated people who appreciate her for the “right reasons” (biting irony and insight into the human condition) survive the twin threats of mass popularity and crass commercialism? In her first book, a lively and insightful celebration of big-tent Austen fandom, former journalist Jaffe shows that a reader’s love of Austen can survive, thrive, and blossom despite the hoopla. According to Yaffe, “Austenmania’s Big Bang” was the shot of Colin Firth (as Mr. Darcy) in a clingy wet shirt in the 1995 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. Predominately white, female, and middle-aged, the “Janeite” crew includes evangelical Christians who value Austen’s moral clarity, secular feminists who relate to Austen’s life as a single woman, Regency culture buffs, and eccentrics, including one Florida lawyer whose “Grand Unified Theory of Everything Jane Austen” suggests that Emma is a gothic tale of patriarchal abuse. Yaffe, who is “happiest when curled up alone with Persuasion,” gamely dons period costume, studies country dancing, and dives into Austen fan fiction to research this subculture. Her Austen is a coolly objective observer with high standards—a plausible version, Yaffe comes to understand, of her own ideal self. Agent: Jenni Ferrari-Adler, Union Literary. (Sept.)