“It is a truth universally acknowledged” that Pride and Prejudice is one of the greatest works of English literature of all time. Though it might not be for everyone, it has never been out of print and has had an undeniably lasting impact on English literature and popular culture. It has also given us everything from memes to card games, Mr. Darcy in a wet shirt, and of course, lots and lots of books. Whether you love a contemporary romance inspired by Pride and Prejudice, a regency romance, a retelling, or a fanfiction, these 20 books have you covered.
1. Persuasion, by Jane Austen
If you’re hankering for more Pride and Prejudice, what could be better than Jane Austen’s last completed novel? Persuasion is a more mature romance starring Anne Elliot, an introvert’s heroine stifled by her overbearing relatives and regretting the lost love of her youth. But when she is unexpectedly reunited with Captain Frederick Wentworth, will he be able to forgive her for jilting him? If you’re a sucker for second chances, it’s hard to resist the slow-burn romance of Persuasion. There’s less overt drama than in some of Austen’s other works, but the tension and repressed feelings between our two leads lend their relationship a romantic intensity that matches anything in Pride and Prejudice. Persuasion also contains the most romantic fictional love letter ever written, in my opinion. Anne, with all her awkwardness and regret, also feels like a relatable heroine for modern audiences. Instead of marriage, her character arc centers her personal growth as she breaks away from her controlling family. And, after all, who doesn’t want to believe they could get another chance at happiness?
2. Longbourn, by Jo Baker
Austen spin-offs are a veritable cottage industry, so Jo Baker’s take on the subgenre is a breath of fresh air. Instead of centering any of the Bennets or their peers, Longbourn focuses on their servants, particularly Sarah, their lady’s maid, and her forbidden romance with James, the footman. This is an interesting strategy since it allows Baker to deromanticize the characters and settings we’ve come to love. Someone has to wash Lizzie’s “unmentionables,” after all. And working for the Bennets is no picnic. Baker pulls no punches in depicting the difficult lives of servants in the period. As such, Longbourn is earthier and more serious than most Pride and Prejudice variations; disease, military desertion, sexual predators, and even a lavender marriage crop up. You may never see Mr. Bennet the same way again either. Baker strikes the perfect balance between the familiar and a critical re-evaluation of the story and its period setting.
3. Pride, by Ibi Zoboi
Pride is a modern Pride and Prejudice remix. After all, “It’s a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood… the first thing they want to do is clean it up.” But not in a good way. Gentrification and the people it displaces are major themes as our heroine, 17-year-old Zuri Benitez, rebels against the transformation of her neighborhood thanks to the arrival of wealthy new residents. Mr. Darcy’s disdain for the Bennets and their country backwater is perfectly matched by the snobbery of the Manhattan Darcys, freshly arrived in Bushwick. Fans of Pride and Prejudice will love Zoboi’s on-point characterization and little nods to Canon; the Benitez family’s landlady plans to leave their building to her smarmy nephew Colin, for example. With an all-black main cast and a Haitian-Dominican heroine, Pride lives up to its title, blending the classic romance with a celebration of community and Afro-Latinx food and culture.
4. The Other Bennet Sister, by Janice Hadlow
There are a surprising number of Pride and Prejudice spin-offs focusing on Mary Bennet. The first third of The Other Bennet Sister imagines her growing up as the ugly duckling of the Bennet household, before recapping Pride and Prejudice from Mary’s point of view. This allows for an interesting critical reassessment of popular characters, including Elizabeth. But the novel really comes into its own after a two year time skip as Mary attempts to strike out on her own and find love. Hadlow is faithful to the source material, adopting an Austen-like writing style throughout and taking inspiration for Mary’s romantic adventures from various Austen novels. Mary finally gets a satisfying character arc and romance, packed with colorful period details; Regency London is particularly vibrant. If you fancy a Pride and Prejudice retelling and sequel blended together, The Other Bennet Sister is an excellent choice.
5. Sylvester, by Georgette Heyer
If Jane Austen is the Mother of Regency Romance, Georgette Heyer is the Queen. Inspired by Austen’s works, she wrote almost 40 books that codified the tropes of the subgenre, including fabulous balls, spunky heroines, sparkling dialogue, and scandalous misadventures. Sylvester ticks all of these boxes and features a romance that blends elements of Pride and Prejudice and Northanger Abbey. Our heroine Phoebe is an aspiring author, horrified at the prospect of marriage to Sylvester, Duke of Salford. Their first impressions of each other are equally poor and his intimidating eyebrows and guardianship of his nephew becomes the inspiration for Phoebe’s first book’s child-snatching villain. But as she soon discovers, Sylvester is actually a loving uncle and an ideal suitor. And then her book is published… No Heyer romance is complete without an elopement or equally outlandish plot twist and Sylvester does not disappoint. The chemistry between the romantic leads, rich in sniping turned banter, is some of the best in any Regency Romance, making this a great place to start if you’re new to Heyer’s writing.
6. North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell
Elizabeth Gaskell has sometimes been accused of ripping off the plot of Pride and Prejudice with her tale of an impoverished Southerner spurning her rich and brooding Northern suitor and then having second thoughts. But North and South is a complex and influential work in its own right. Its focus on the exploitation of Milton’s mill workers and their attempts to unionize marks North and South as an early social justice novel that explores the poverty-stricken underbelly of well-to-do Victorian society. And, of course, the romantic tension between our heroine Margaret Hale and Mr. John Thornton, mill owner and would-be-gentleman, sizzles right off the page. North and South has a bit more grit than Pride and Prejudice, but the romance underpinning it is no less irresistible.
7. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith
If you’ve ever thought, “This period drama could do with more bloodshed,” then this is the book for you! The genius of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is that Austen’s text and characters are all there, thanks to the public domain, but so are “dreadfuls” (zombies), beheadings, and martial arts. Elizabeth Bennet is a witty, badass protagonist, and so are all her sisters, even Mary. Grahame-Smith clearly had a lot of fun imagining the impact of a zombie uprising on Regency Society. This is a world in which elegant slaying is just another vital “accomplishment” for Mr. Darcy to find lacking in women. And the presence of the militia finally makes sense! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also makes some good points about women and violence; Mr. Bennet did not hesitate to train his daughters in self-defense, unlike some of their less fortunate female neighbors. Just don’t take it too seriously. Incidentally, this is an excellent gateway into the weird and wonderful world of paranormal takes on classic literature, such as Android Karenina and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
8. Ayesha At Last, by Uzma Jalaluddin
“[It] is a truth universally acknowledged that a single Muslim man must be in want of a wife.” Ayesha At Last transports the plot of Pride and Prejudice to modern day Canada for its Muslim romantic leads. Ayesha is an outspoken, aspiring poet doing her level best to avoid an arranged marriage, especially if it involves her stuck-up but handsome neighbour, Khalid. For his part, Khalid is quite happy to go along with an arranged marriage. If only he could stop obsessing over the woman who lives across the street… Matchmaking Mamas translate perfectly into modern day aunties and arranged marriages, which are discussed in a fair, balanced way. And who can’t relate to busybody relatives prying into your relationship status? Ayesha At Last skillfully maps the nineteenth century plot onto modern society and relationship politics while celebrating the Indian Muslim community in Toronto. Uzma Jalaluddin is an Own Voices author, so if you’re looking for more diversity in the books you read, Ayesha At Last is a great place to start.
9. Death Comes to Pemberley, by P. D. James
Period drama gets a detective spin as P. D. James, the crime writer, turns her sights on Pemberley. The plot is a little daft but it hurtles along entertainingly as Lydia Wickham (née Bennet) bursts in on Elizabeth and Darcy’s family Christmas, announcing a murder. James deliberately evokes Jane Austen’s writing style, though she chooses to focus on Darcy as the main viewpoint character, which may annoy some fans who long for more time with Elizabeth. Still, it’s good to finally get his perspective on his wife, her family, and the uproar they bring with them. This time, Wickham is the prime suspect in a murder, so a nineteenth century police procedural ensues, complete with illicit secrets, surprise witnesses, and drama with the in-laws. Many readers will pick up Death Comes to Pemberley to revisit their favorite characters, but they’ll stay for the mystery, snappy dialogue, and bizarre shenanigans played out in and around Mr. Darcy’s iconic home.
10. Bridget Jones’ Diary, by Helen Fielding
Bridget Jones’ Diary may be the most famous fanfiction of Pride and Prejudice of all time. Elizabeth Bennet is fabulously reimagined as Bridget, our 90s heroine struggling to find a meaningful job and relationship. Of course, no romance would be complete without a couple of eligible bachelors, in this case Daniel Cleaver, her roguish boss, and Mark Darcy, a stuffy but decent family friend. Bridget Jones made Helen Fielding’s name and fortune, and her diary has become a foundational text for “chick lit.” It started its life as a newspaper column satirizing women’s magazines, but struck a chord with readers and eventually developed into the novel we know and love. Of course, it’s also very funny and a perfect snapshot of the 90s, whilst still being relatable for modern readers as Bridget frets about her career, body image, and love life. Followed by Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason and a hugely successful film franchise, Bridget Jones has gone down in the history of British literature as one of the most influential female characters of the twentieth century.
11. The Houseguest: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary, by Elizabeth Adams
There are many Pride and Prejudice “vagaries” out there, divergent storylines based on changing key plot points. The Houseguest: A Pride and Prejudice Vagary is one of the best. In this case, the plot twist is Georgiana Darcy’s non-canonical visit to Netherfield. As in the original, she and Elizabeth hit it off, so she invites our heroine to stay with the Darcy family in London. What could possibly happen? As with all good “canon divergence” stories, Adams takes her source material seriously, clearly putting a lot of thought into the characters and their relationship dynamics. The sweet but underdeveloped friendship between Georgiana and Elizabeth in Pride and Prejudice has room to blossom in Adams’ hands. And of course, as a doting big brother, Mr. Darcy gets to appear to Elizabeth in a much better light. How this changes the course of their relationship (and the plot of Pride and Prejudice) is the crux of the story, but Mr. Darcy attempting to be a good host to his crush is also very entertaining.
12. Evelina, by Frances Burney
It’s always interesting to read the books your favorite authors love. In Austen’s case, Fanny Burney was a huge source of inspiration; Pride and Prejudice may even be named after a quote from Cecilia, another of her books. An epistolary novel, this early romantic comedy follows Evelina as she stumbles her way through the strange world of London High Society, attracting the attention of various dashing and/or caddish gentlemen in the process. Social blunders, embarrassing relatives, misunderstandings and thwarted romance are all fodder for comedy and drama as Evelina grows in social prowess. Her suitor Mr. Orville may seem familiar to fans of Mr. Darcy, thanks to his superior social status and knack for finding Evelina in humiliating situations. Subplots revolving around jealous suitors, lost heirs, and scheming family members will all be familiar to fans of the genre. Evelina is also notable for setting a pattern for women’s coming-of-age stories, inspiring Austen as well as later writers like Charlotte Brontë and George Eliot.
13. Back to the Bonnet, by Jennifer Duke
Yes, this is indeed Back to the Future in corsets, and it is glorious. As Duke demonstrates, the plot of Pride and Prejudice depends on an awful lot of coincidences and inciting events, like Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meeting at Pemberley, and Mr. Bingley renting Netherfield Hall. But what if they had turned out differently, or never happened at all? Back to the Bonnet combines a Pride and Prejudice vagary with sci-fi/magical excitement as Mary Bennet inherits a mysterious bonnet that allows her to listen in on conversations (via headgear!) and travel in time. With the bonnet’s help, she can tinker with time until the familiar plot of Pride and Prejudice plays out, though not before we get to see the alternative timelines! Mary gets her time to shine, as does Duke’s period-inspired prose. For an extra layer of Austenite fun, we’re even treated to cameos by characters from other novels, like Northanger Abbey’s Mr. Thorpe. Back to the Bonnet is a joyous tribute to Austen’s books and a dream to read for her fans.
14. Austenland, by Shannon Hale
Shannon Hale took a break from writing YA to pen this frothy Pride and Prejudice themed romantic comedy. Our heroine is Jane Hayes, a modern New Yorker and hopeless romantic obsessed with Mr. Darcy (in his Colin Firth incarnation). She’s determined to kick her Austen habit and hopes to get it all out of her system with a trip to “Austenland”, an immersive Regency Romance themed holiday experience. But will she be able to separate fantasy from reality once she meets the gorgeous gentlemen inhabiting Pembrook Park? Austenland is the perfect blend of wish fulfillment and gentle ribbing of Austen fans, peppered with references to nineteenth century literature and zinging one-liners. Jane is a slightly neurotic heroine, but she’s witty and her banter with her love interest(s) is entertaining. Austenland is a great feel-good read if you’re in the mood for some light romance.
15. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
You may have come across the superb YouTube webseries The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If you haven’t, watch it immediately. It’s a genius update of Pride and Prejudice in vlog form that’s won a cult following and even an Emmy. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is the book version, co-written by Bernie Su, one of the series’ original creators. It expands on the web series, offering a kind of “behind the scenes” glimpse of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries as our Millennial Elizabeth Bennet, Charlotte and co. plan and shoot episodes. This makes The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet an excellent companion to the show. As a written diary, it goes into greater detail than the webseries’ five minute episodes allow, meaning we get to witness events that are only referenced in the series, like the wedding where Lizzie and Darcy first meet. The impact of YouTube fame on Lizzie’s life and deeper reflections on her parents and sisters are also explored, making the diary an excellent expansion on a great series based on the timeless novel.
16. A Weekend With Mr. Darcy, by Victoria Connelly
A Jane Austen-themed weekend conference is the setting for this romance. Katherine Roberts is a well-respected Austen scholar with a disappointing love life and a secret passion for steamy bodice-rippers. She’s built a friendship through letters with her favorite author, Lorna Warwick, whom she’s hoping to meet in person at the conference. Warwick Lawton, one of its few male attendees, also has a secret. He’s been writing romance novels under the pen name “Lorna Warwick” for years and he’s developed a crush on his pen pal, Katherine. And then there’s Robyn Love, an Austen mega-fan attending the conference to escape her deadbeat boyfriend… A Weekend With Mr. Darcy is a cozy romcom packed with Austen references and low-key drama. It’s not exactly a retelling, but it does incorporate plot elements from Pride and Prejudice, such as a Meet Ugly for Katherine and Warwick. I also really appreciated its discussion of gender norms and toxic masculinity through Warwick’s character arc as he contemplates outing himself as a romance writer. A Weekend With Mr. Darcy may lean on convenient plot devices, but that doesn’t stop it from being feel-good, fluffy fun.
17. Sorcery and Cecelia, by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
If you crossed Pride and Prejudice with Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, you might end up with something like this. Sorcery and Cecelia is an epistolary novel that takes place in a Regency England rich in magic, but otherwise similar to our own. The impact of magic on British history and society (as well as industrialization) is touched upon, but the story mostly focuses on the lives and romances of Kate and Cecelia, devoted cousins writing to each other while Kate is in London for her first Season. The novel actually evolved out of a writing game its two authors played, exchanging letters in character as Kate and Cecelia, respectively. This unusual approach to writing gives both characters a fresh and original voice, admittedly in the style of Jane Austen, whose books heavily inspired the novel and its sequels. Unsurprisingly, this also means we’re treated to sparring couples, unflattering first impressions, and witty repartee between our leads and their love interests. But if you’re getting tired of Regency Romance (if that’s even possible), there are also supernatural plots and Cecelia’s experimentation with magic to switch things up.
18. Crazy Rich Asians, by Kevin Kwan
For something similar to Pride and Prejudice that isn’t a direct spin-off, look no further than Crazy Rich Asians. Loosely inspired by the former, it focuses on the “vastly inferior relations” aspect of the Bennet-Darcy romance. Our heroine Rachel Chu is a regular American girl while her boyfriend Nick Young is a scion of one of the wealthiest families in Singapore, if not all of Asia. Worse still, the Young family is distinctly unimpressed with Rachel, particularly Nick’s fearsome and Lady Catherine de Bourgh-like mother and grandmother. As Rachel and Nick struggle to stay together, subplots revolving around other members of the extended Young clan round out the story, though you may need to keep a family tree handy to keep track of them all. There’s plenty of drama, tenderness and scandal and it’s certainly fun to observe all the excesses of the one percent. Crazy Rich Asians has been credited with bringing Asian characters and stories to western audiences, and there are two sequels to enjoy if you just can’t get enough of Singapore’s fictional “royalty.”
19. Soulless, by Gail Carriger
Technically Soulless is Steampunk rather than Regency, but respectability and etiquette are still of paramount importance in this Victorian Paranormal Romance. Our heroine is Alexia Tarabotti, who is half-Italian and on the cusp of spinsterhood. Worse still, she is soulless, a severely stigmatized and rare condition that protects her from supernatural influence. It also makes her a prime suspect for Lord Maccon, a werewolf investigating a spate of disappearing vampires on the orders of Queen Victoria. Alexia must clear her name and solve the mystery while maintaining absolutely impeccable standards of decorum. This is a world in which rigid Victorian social norms and manners coexist with vampires, werewolves, and other supernatural creatures, which makes for entertaining worldbuilding. The supernatural mystery and romance keeps the plot moving, and the belligerent sexual tension between Alexia and Maccon will definitely appeal to fans of Pride and Prejudice. Better still, Carriger’s writing is a delight, peppered with excellent bons mots. You could also try Carriger’s YA Finishing School series, which is set in the same universe and features upper class young ladies training as genteel spies and assassins.
20. Miss Austen: A Novel of the Austen Sisters, by Gill Hornby
Jane Austen’s sister Cassandra is the star of Miss Austen: A Novel of the Austen Sisters. We meet Cassandra late in life, long after the rest of her family has passed away. She sees herself as the guardian of her beloved sister’s legacy, which means she is determined to find and destroy a stash of hidden letters. But what secrets do they contain? The plot is actually based on a real historical mystery that has puzzled Austen scholars for years. The lost letters would have been a treasure trove of information about Austen’s life and inspiration, so naturally there are plenty of theories about why Cassandra burned them. Gill Hornby brings her own to the table, imagining a backstory for the sisters and a rather melancholy old age for Cassandra. Unlucky romances are explored in flashbacks, but their sisterly bond takes center stage, as well as the impact of Jane’s fame on their family. In Hornby’s hands, Cassandra is a vulnerable and sympathetic protagonist, grieving and torn between preserving mementos of Jane and protecting her reputation. Hornby brings both sisters vividly to life, making Miss Austen a real treat for any Austenite.