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Article: Beach read recommendations for Austen fans

Person reading book on beach, with beach towel

Beach read recommendations for Austen fans

Person reading book on beach towel - Rachel Lees Unsplash
Photo by Rachel Lees on Unsplash

Picking out holiday reading is always a tricky one. There are a few different factors at play - first you must consider how many books you think you need for the length of trip, whether that means making sure you have just the right number that you don’t run out, or making sure you have plenty of choice if you decide the book you’re reading isn’t for you. Additionally, if you’re going abroad, there’s baggage limits to think of. With the immediate practicalities out of the way, you then have to decide what the reading mood of your trip is. Perhaps you’ll be making a trip to our very own Jane Austen Centre, and want to bring along an Austen novel to tie the trip together with a visit to our  Regency Tea Room. Or, you might go for a long lie on the beach with a big stack of escapist romances. Maybe, you’re going on a city break and just need a slim volume to slip in your bag whilst you sample a hip coffee spot. Of course, every Jane Austen fan knows that a good romance is essential, so we’ve curated a short list of recent romance releases for you to lose yourself in this summer. 

n.b. unless otherwise stated, the following recommendations are for adult romance novels, which may contain material that is not appropriate for younger readers. 

Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood

Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood

Ali Hazelwood is back with another STEMinist novel - yes, you read that correctly, STEMinist. Hazelwood specialises in romance novels about young women working in sciences and academia, weaving incisive criticism about the treatment of young women in the sector into her fun and thrilling romances. In Love, Theoretically,we meet Dr Elsie Hannaway, a recent PhD graduate looking to find more reliable, prestigious work as a theoretical physicist. To get by, Elsie has been teaching way too many classes as an adjunct, as well as working for Faux, an app that allows you to hire a fake partner for parties, weddings and family occasions. Her most recent Faux date has generally been going well, except that her fake boyfriend’s older brother Jack is onto her. When Elsie finds out that not only is Jack the academic who wrote a paper that threatened to undermine her whole discipline, but he’s also on the hiring committee of the job she really needs. A sexy and fun enemies-to-lovers romance you’ll devour in one setting. 

The Austen Recommendation: It might not seem like the most natural comparison, but fans of Sense and Sensibility may appreciate a novel that deals with the realities of different expectations of men and women when it comes to money. As Elsie and her best friend approach the world of work at the end of their PhDs, they’re forced to get creative when it comes to supporting themselves.

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid 

Carrie Soto Is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

When Carrie Soto retired, she was an all-time tennis great. She smashed records, holding twenty slam titles by the time she retired, but not without sacrificing a lot to make it happen. Six years after her retirement, Soto watches as young tennis player Nikki Chan threatens to break the records she set. At the age of 37, Soto decides to come out of retirement, but in order to do so she must train with Bowe Huntley, the one man she had once almost opened up to. Will it all be worth it? 

The Austen Recommendation: 

Like Lizzy Bennet, Carrie Soto is an unforgettable, whip smart protagonist. Like Lizzy, Soto is forced to reevaluate some of her most deeply held beliefs in order to find her way to happiness. 

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams

Eva Mercy isn’t sure what to write next. A single mother and bestselling author of erotic romances, she is facing pressure from all sides to be everything to everyone. When she is invited to speak on a literary panel, she is shocked to see an old familiar face - Shane Hall, the mysterious and enigmatic author of award winning fiction. But that’s not all he is to Eva - no, they have a history. This book is a whirlwind second-chance romance set in the baking heat of summer in New York City. 

The Austen Recommendation:

Fans of Persuasion will love the maturity of this second chance at love romance. Unlike many other romances, it deals pragmatically with the difficult emotions of reconnecting with someone after a turbulent youth, discovering your love for each other can endure even though you yourself have changed. 

The View Was Exhausting by Onjuli Datta and Mikaella Clements

The View Was Exhausting by Mikaella Clements and Onjuli Datta

Whitman “Win” Tagore is one of the most famous faces on the planet. The actress’ on-again-off-again romance with playboy Leo Milanowski has captivated the world, thrilling the public with their raw chemistry. However, it’s not real. Win and Leo have an arrangement - whenever her public image is under threat, he’s drafted in to distract the public from the other messes in her life. With the pressures of being a high-profile British Indian woman, Win feels like she’s carrying the world on her shoulders, with the conflict between her personal life and public image threatening to unravel around her. Then there’s Leo - beautiful, caring, daring Leo. Can they resist the pull that draws them together?

The Austen Recommendation: 

Fans of Emma will relate to Win’s ambition and the difficulty of being a woman in a world that wants you to be likeable and accessible first and foremost. The long, slow burn of Win and Leo’s romance will put readers in mind of Knightley and Emma, whose friendship crucially forms the bedrock on which their romance is able to flower. 


Six Times We Almost Kissed (and One Time We Did) by Tess Sharpe 

Six Times we Almost Kissed (and One Time We Did) by Tess Sharpe

 I had to include one for a younger audience. Six Times We Almost Kissed is my favourite YA romance of this year to date. Penny and Tate keep getting thrown together - their mothers are childhood best friends, but the relationship between the two has always been turbulent. When Penny’s mother reveals that she’s going to give Tate’s unwell mother a kidney, the two girls aren’t anticipating a double whammy - not only are they going to have to spend more time together, they’re going to have to live together. With their mothers preoccupied, Tate and Penny are forced to look out for one another, with Penny’s grief at the death of her father further complicating their relationship. The thing is, Tate has always been there to look out for Penny, and for some reason, they keep almost kissing…

The Austen Recommendation: 

This is yet another one for Emma fans. Tate and Penny’s close but abrasive lifelong relationship that is built both on care and conflict is in many ways just like Knightley and Emma. It’s also an homage to the romance genre more broadly, handling tropes and conventions with care and depth. It made this writer cry like a baby! 

Do you have any good summer reading recommendations? Which Austen novel do you think is the best to reread over the summer? Let us know in the comments.  

Ellen White is editor of the Jane Austen blog. If you would like to contribute to the blog, she would love to hear from you. Follow this link for more details.

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