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8 Books To Read When You've Exhausted Jane Austen

Because you can only read Pride and Prejudice so many times.

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1. Excellent Women by Barbara Pym

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Like Austen, Pym was an acute observer of female life, and, like Austen, her novels are filled with busybodies, tea, and a deceptively practical view on love. Imagine a comedy of manners set in post-war England with Charlotte Lucas as the protagonist, and you'll have a good idea of what Excellent Women is all about. Plus, Philip Larkin called Pym "the most underrated writer of the 20th century."

2. The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

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Wharton's Lily Bart is the opposite of a Jane Austen heroine in almost every way: She's fickle and tragic with, most importantly, no happy ending. That being said, Wharton's New York society is richly drawn, Lily is at once frustrating and sympathetic, and the ending is perfect if you're in need of a good cry.

3. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

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You may remember this novel from Dunder Mifflin's "The Finer Things Club," and if that isn't recommendation enough, I'm not sure what is. Contrasting the free sensuality of Italy with the conventions of Edwardian England, the novel follows Lucy Honeychurch's coming-of-age as she chooses between two men and the values each represents. Particularly memorable, though, are the deftly drawn, absurd secondary characters like snooty Cecil, pompous Miss Lavish, and finicky cousin Charlotte.


4. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford

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Nancy Mitford, one of the famous Mitford sisters and a "Bright Young Thing" of 1920s London, writes what she knows: Her novels are filled with thinly veiled characterizations of her family members and friends, and many of the details that make the novel so fun are lifted from Mitford's childhood growing up in an eccentric aristocratic family. The Pursuit of Love follows Linda Radlett from her sex-obsessed (in a 1920s kind of way) childhood to her adulthood spent desperately trying (and failing) to find Mr. Right. While the novel's conclusion is a bit sobering, for the most part the book is lighthearted escapism.

5. Hons and Rebels by Jessica Mitford

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Another one of the Mitford sisters, Jessica Mitford was decidedly less ambivalent about some of her family's legacy (two of the other sisters were committed fascists, whereas Jessica was a socialist who went on to move to the U.S. and join the civil rights movement). The memoir is peppered with some wonderful anecdotes from Jessica's childhood in England, but it really gets going when she runs away from home with Esmond Romilly, Winston Churchill's nephew, to join the Spanish Civil War. Bonus point: Hons and Rebels was one of J.K. Rowling's favorite books and inspired her to name her daughter Jessica.

6. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier

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This book is unputdownable. Although Rebecca owes more to gothic romances than to Austen's comedies, the novel is filled with enigmatic characters (living and dead) and engrossing psychological warfare set on a beautiful estate. It is both a joy to read and unforgettably sinister.

7. The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides

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You've probably already read this — I know everyone in my sorority was carrying around a copy when it came out in 2011. That being said, you should read it again, if only because the writing is so wonderfully intimate, cozy even, and smart at the same time. Plus, if you're anything like me, a few years between readings (and thus more relationship experience) will make the book and its characters far more resonant.

8. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

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I lied; you can never read Pride and Prejudice too many times. After all, it sometimes takes a few readings to get why W.H. Auden was so shocked by Austen in his poem, "Letter to Lord Byron." (To be perfectly honest, though, I prefer Persuasion. #AnneElliot4ever!)

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