Why we love it: Another book inspired by the one of the world’s best-loved authors, Jane Austen? Don’t roll your eyes – for this is a must-read for any budding writer, who will find invaluable gems of advice, as well as compelling reading.
We don’t need to tell you how many spin-offs of Austen’s works there are – some of them are wonderful works in their own right, others less so. But Rebecca Smith’s The Jane Austen Writers’ Club: Inspiration and Advice from the World’s Best-Loved Novelist is another worthy addition. This time it’s not a work of fiction, but as evident from the title, it’s a creative writing guide.
Rebecca Smith is a descendant of Jane Austen – five-times-great niece – but that’s almost beside the point really; what matters here is Smith’s in-depth appreciation of Austen’s novels, around which she has constructed a delightfully user-friendly and enjoyable guide on the art of novel writing.
Using her comprehensive knowledge of Austen’s works and surviving letters, Smith has created a series of interesting chapters examining many of the different aspects of a writer’s toolbox – plot, character, place, dialogue, point of view. It includes everything you’d expect of a good creative writing book with some interesting Jane Austen twists, such as Austen’s use of clothes and food in her novels.
The book is told in an intimate, friendly style and each of the different topics are accompanied by many apt examples from Austen’s work and most beneficial, by useful exercises for beginner writers, giving it a very practical feel. Reading it, we’re struck again by how relevant Jane Austen’s work has remained, more than 200 years after she penned such classics as Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Persuasion, Emma, and Mansfield Park.
The Jane Austen Writers’ Club is a brilliant idea for a writing guide – the many references to Austen, and the insights into the great writer’s life, lift it from being simply a manual into something far more fascinating and inspirational and, of course, it’s a reminder – as if we needed one – to go out and discover Austen all over again. For Austen fans who are also budding writers this is a welcome addition to your library. It’s the kind of book that can be read in one sitting or kept at hand to dip in and out of as you embark on your own great adventure of writing a novel.
Rebecca Smith is the author of three novels, The Bluebird Café, Happy Birthday and All That, and A Bit of Earth. She teaches creative writing at the University of Southampton and she was the Writer in Residence at Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton, Hampshire. Her first novel for children, Shadow Eyes was shortlisted for The 2012 Kelpies Prize. Her first work of non-fiction was Jane Austen’s Guide to Modern Life’s Dilemmas. Rebecca is Jane Austen’s great great great great great niece.
Head here to see our interview with Rebecca about her favourite Austen novel, the art of writing and more!
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