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Jane Fairfax

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  1,039 ratings  ·  140 reviews
Jane Austen's Emma has been a favorite novel for Austenites since 1816. In the mid-1990s it became a favorite movie for millions of new admirers.

A key reason for Emma's success is that the story has two heroines-Emma Woodhouse and Jane Fairfax. In Austen's novel, Jane's backgound is left obscure, and the turmoil underlying her current reduced circumstances in mysterious.

Paperback, 256 pages
Published March 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1990)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,811)
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Jul 27, 2008 Garnette rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those tired of the incompete sequels
Recommended to Garnette by: Elizabeth
Shelves: favorites
Brilliant style, Jane Fairfax is written with full compliance with Emma yet with undertones that enhance rather than diminish Jane Austen. What I learned from this book was more than what I learned about Emma, with grace, without heavy handedness, the book is fully accomplished craft. To my wondering eyes, the author unfolds depths of understanding of motivation and characterization Jane left for the reader to discern. I even see Emma herself with new eyes - 'the hundred pounds', Frank Churchill...more
Meredith (Austenesque Reviews)
What a wonderful book. No, it is not in the style of Jane Austen, but if that is not important to you then it is a great book for you to read. It takes you back into the beginning when Emma and Jane were little playmates. If you read Emma and wondered what her childhood was like, then you will love this book. You can discover the real reason why Emma dislikes Jane.

What is so terrific about this book is that you fall in love with Jane, she really is the second heroine of the novel. It is wonderf...more
Aug 28, 2007 Cori rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: fans of Austen
From my blog:

I've never been one to read fan fiction because I've always equated it with science fiction (Star Trek, BSG, etc.) or Harry Potter. Then I realized I've read a slew of fan fiction based on Jane Austen in the last few years, although I've never really thought about it like that. The books have ranged from good (Bridget Jones's Diary) to not so good (Mr. Darcy's Daughters -- like Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth would ever allow those things to go on under their roof!). I thought that Joan Aik...more
Hilary Moon Murphy
I had mixed feelings about this one. I loved Joan Aiken's Wolves of Willoughby Chase, and I felt that the concept of this book was brilliant. The subtitle of this book alludes to it being the "secret story of the second heroine of Emma," the very private and reserved Jane Fairfax. In Emma, Jane Fairfax initially appears to exist only as a foil for the main character: she is a deserving and gifted beauty that is doomed to a life of drudgery as a governess because she has no diary. But as Austen's...more
Aug 18, 2010 Sarah rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Becky, Katie
I felt like the author was doing well developing some characters that weren't as well developed in Emma then all of a sudden she had a deadline to make so she wrapped the book up early. I enjoyed the book up to the point where (I don't think this is a spoiler, since it's in Emma) Frank Churchill proposed the secret engagement. The whole last section in Highbury seemed rushed and it never seemed like Jane liked Frank enough. So it made me sad that she seemed to be settling. It's a shame, because...more
The concept for this book is a great one - tell Jane Fairfax's story, all that we missed in Emma. The beginning, while she's a child in Highbury is charming, and seeing Emma and the other characters through different eyes is very interesting. The prose is well done, it's nicely Austenesque, and reads well. We really feel for Jane in her mixed status as one of the Campbell family, but not fully one of them, with – to paraphrase Dickens – no great expectations, despite all her accomplishments, int...more
This is my first time reading an Austen fan novel. I did not expect much but was pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable it was. Reading Jane Fairfax was like traveling back in time to places and events you know well, but watching everything unfold again from a different angle. This is a great book for those who just can't get enough of Jane Austen but have no patience with the plethora of cheesy derivatives out there.
If you're an Austen fan, you know that Jane Fairfax ends up with Frank Churchhill. So in reading this you might expect to understand the how or why of that relationship. This story doesn't really make your root for the 2 of them to be together. There is no sense of rightness to the relationship like you might get with Emma and Mr. Knightly or Lizzy and Mr. Darcy. The only really redeeming part of the relationship is that it saves Jane from a life as a governess. This isn't to say that Jane is no...more
Fabiana Udolpho
The first half of the book is delightful, with fine character development, great drama and an engaging heroine. Emma is a little too evil, but that’s Emma from Jane’s point of view, so it makes sense. Also, it’s a good thing that Aiken tells Jane’s story outside Highbury, instead of just rewriting Austen’s novel. Unfortunately, the second half is atrocious. Jane is messed up and everything is ruined. The relationship between Jane and Frank is never developed, and her reason for marrying him is v...more
A die-hard Austen fan, I looked forward to reading the "backstory" of Jane Fairfax. But I found this to be somewhat of a disappointment. While convincingly written in the style of Jane Austen and meticulously faithful to her book, Emma, I felt it lacked the humor of the original and, obviously, the surprises. One of the fabulous things about Austen's writing is that her characters are human. They make mistakes, have character flaws; and that makes it so easy to identify with them. Joan Aiken's J...more
Jan 08, 2008 nikki rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Jane Austen Fans
Shelves: fiction
Perhaps I've just read Jane Austen's Emma so many times as to become restless with it, but I really enjoyed seeing another point of view on Miss Woodhouse. Learning the story of Miss Fairfax, as well as a different view of the story of Mr. Churchill was nice. It was a bit tedious at times, since it was required to repeat a lot of Emma, but still a rather decent attempt.
This book is a rendition of Jane Austen's, Emma, seen from the viewpoint of Jane Fairfax. I had every intention of loving it, but can only say that I liked it. Aiken tried very hard to stick with the style of writing that Jane Austen used. For the most part she did well, but there were moments of irritation. I feel that her focus was off quite a bit as well. She spent far too much time narrating Jane's childhood and not enough time on the romance between Jane and Frank Churchill. I found it stra...more
Dec 06, 2008 Kristi rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: frustrated readers of Emma
Shelves: chick-lit
This companion novel to Jane Austen's Emma is, I think, a much more satisfying story than the original! I've never enjoyed Emma, simply because the "heroine" is to me, unlikable. Aiken's story fills in the gaps about the mysterious Jane Fairfax and creates a character that I sympathized with and befriended.
Brooke Pfannkuche-swain
This was a remarkably well written book, capturing the character of Jane Fairfax of "Emma" and using the language and spirit that is so completely Austen-esque to flush out the obscurities of her complete story. It begins with her childhood in Highbury, followed by the years spent in the care of Colonel and Mrs. Campbell, and ties beautifully into the already know story of "Emma." Unlike other takes on Austen novels, however, this is not just another re-telling of the same story, but a true imme...more
I've read quite a few "spin-offs" of Jane Austen's works and Aiken's book is one of the best. She sticks to Austen's plot and characterizations and she keeps her stylistic embellishments to a minimum. All in all and really lovely book.
This is a really fun book if you are a fan of Jane Austen. I think Aiken did an incredible job! If I could I would have given this book 4 1/2 stars. :)
Preferred this to Emma. Even when reading Austen's Emma, I thought that Jane was a more like able character
Martine Berne
I've read a number of Joan Aiken's books and I've found them as a group to be uneven. With JANE FAIRFAX, however, Aiken is writing at the peak of her powers. In this brilliantly reimagined version of Jane Austen's EMMA, Aiken's psychological insights are acute, making for a terrific read. Most readers of EMMA, myself included, have found Jane Fairfax to be a sympathetic character -- in contrast to the difficulties we sometimes have in liking Emma! -- and here Aiken ably places Jane in the center...more
This is the story of Jane Austen's Emma told from the point of view of Jane Fairfax, Emma's reluctant rival. But it also contains much more. We begin with Jane's childhood as the orphan raised by Mrs. and Miss Bates, her impoverished aunt and grandmother. We feel her humiliation as she is forced to wear Emma's hand-me-downs. We learn that when Emma's mother died, she left little Jane one hundred pounds for her education, a fact that irked a jealous and heart broken Emma who desparately misses he...more
The front cover calls this the secret story of the Second Heroine of Jane Austen's Emma. Being what I suppose one would consider fan-fic, I didn't have particularly high expections for this novel. I was rather surprised at how extensively the author covered Jane's life before the time described in Emma, and by how well it seemed to fit in with Emma's story (though it's been several years since I last read it). Lovers of Emma will perhaps be disappointed at the view expressed about their favorite...more
I was putting together a list of Austen read-alikes together for a patron not long ago and I thought, hey! I'M a hopeless Jane Austen nerd! I should read this stuff! And here I am.

It's sort of weird to give an Austen knock-off 4 stars, but as Austen knock-offs go this one is really out of the park. Of course, unlike most Austen parasites, Aiken is a real author who writes good books of her very own.

This book mostly covers Jane Fairfax's life before the action of Emma but it also shows those eve...more
I really enjoyed reading this story about the other heroine in the Jane Austen book "Emma". I now need to go back and re-read Emma. It has been too long since I've read it and I don't remember Emma being cast in such a spoiled and ungrateful way. The book ends with Jane and Emma realizing they could have been friends all this time but now they are both getting married they find time has run out for a friendship. Even though I do remember from reading "Emma" that Frank Churchill treated Jane Fair...more
Reading spin offs from Jane Austen’s works has become a sort of hobby with me. There are hundreds of them out there – especially with the new Pride and Prejudice movie coming out recently. There have been some spectacular failures in this field and some of them have even trespassed on the realm of the insulting (“Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife” for instance). This book, however, shines as a fantastic retelling of a well known Austen novel. Joan Aiken has completely recaptured Jane Fairfax and developed...more
I admit to being very wary about sequels/prequels/companions/what-have-you to Jane Austen, but had high hopes for this when I randomly came across is - I love Joan Aiken's children's books (kaaaaaaark!!), so know she's a good writer. This little book didn't disappoint! It's written in a style that's close to and respectful of Austen's language. I also have to admit that despite my love for it, Emma is probably the Austen novel I've read the fewest times, and my main exposure to the plot is from...more
Sylvia Forrest
This was by far the best of the many Austen-related books I've read. Now I've got to re-read "Emma"! Jane became a real, complete person, with a past and with a complex view of Emma Woodhouse and Highbury life that we could never have imagined without Joan Aiken's marvelous imagination. The book is an absolute pleasure to read, and I highly recommend it to Austen fans who have failed to find satisfaction in other fan-fiction. Enjoy!
This book was okay in the aspect that it was inventive to write Jane Fairfax's story, but it turned me off because it messed too much with the character of Emma. I know that Emma can be a bit high-and-mighty, but this book seemed to take it to an extreme. It was almost like the author needed a villain and the only prominent character in much of Jane's life was Emma. The author tries to explain it away at times, in stating that Emma lost her mother early and was overly-coddled by her father, but...more
Jennifer Nelson
Someone needs to hand this book to a soap opera TV show would make a perfect script for one of their shows.

Wow. I was in turns incredulous at and disgusted by this extremely shallow, sensational, insipid Jane Austen copy. There were times that I felt like laughing at the absurdity of it all.

I will say that the first few chapters were very promising and I was settling in to what I thought would be a first-rate story. Then it quickly disintegrated into insanity. At the end I could...more
The first I have to remark is that I found at least three typos in my edition (German from Diogenes Verlag, 1993). As always with such things they disturbed my reading experience. Still I might overlook those with a very good book. I didn't overlook them in this novel.

The story itself would have been great if it was a standalone and not based on ''Emma''. In the context that the book is based on ''Emma'' and features a major character from that novel, I liked it well enough but not too much. Som...more
Good read for anyone who can't get enough of AustenWorld. Although Emma is not my favorite Austen book, I found this author's created world for Jane Fairfax changed my mind about a character I thought a little 2-dimensional and cool. I enjoyed going along for the ride of this interpretation.
This book was appropriate for the Austen time period. Well written with an interesting view of Jane Fairfax. I liked it. I also thought she stayed true to the Austen characters. This is one of the few spin offs of a classic that I enjoyed.
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Joan Delano Aiken was a much loved English writer who received the MBE for services to Children's Literature. Her most famous classic, THE WOLVES OF WILLOUGHBY CHASE,has been celebrating its 50th Anniversary with the publication of three brand new editions of the book and a new AUDIO recorded by her daughter Lizza.


Read NEWS & NEW PUB...more
More about Joan Aiken...
The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (The Wolves Chronicles, #1) Black Hearts in Battersea (The Wolves Chronicles, #2) Nightbirds on Nantucket (The Wolves Chronicles, #3) Arabel's Raven (Arabel and Mortimer, #1) Midnight Is a Place

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