Old Friends and New Fancies an Imaginary Sequel to the Novels of Jane Austen by Sybil G. Brinton

This 1913 title lays claim to being the first Austen fan fiction. Brinton wrote no other novels and this one attempts to continue the stories of many characters from Austen novels all in one book, with Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park as the most well represented, though the other four also populate her story.

There are instances of real wit and cleverness, but ultimately the work is uneven, too stuffed with character names, and perhaps a little too fully Victorian in tone to really succeed as a sequel to Austen’s work.  Brinton seems on a mission to get everyone married and the number of couples she has to get paired up before the end of the novel lend a rushed quality to it that makes it less than satisfying.  For this reader, the main interest of Brinton’s work is as an artifact of Jane Austen fandom. Brinton claims to have used Austen-Leigh’s Memoir of his aunt as well as Austen’s own letters as inspiration for her continuation and she does marry Kitty to a clergyman.  However, some of the characters, Mary Crawford for example, seem to stray widely from their roots in Austen. 

Overall, the book is enjoyable as a window into Austen’s appeal almost 100 years after her death and to her growing fandom.  The very fact that Brinton felt the desire to write a continuation of Austen’s novels and the joy she found in reading Austen as remarked in her introduction to the work, are glimpses of reader reception in the pre-WWI period. My favorite depiction by Brinton is Georgiana Darcy, who comes off favorably and reasonably in Old Friends and New Fancies. If you are interested in the history of Austen reception or just want to see the first fan fiction rendering of her characters, give this one a go. 

You can get it for free on your kindle app or read it on Project Gutenberg here: https://www.gutenberg.org/files/43741/43741-h/43741-h.htm

Published by Robin Henry

Independent Scholar and Book Coach specializing in Historical Fiction and Literary Fan Fiction.

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