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PAGES : Can't Get Enough of Jane Austen?

August 26, 1993|HANA LESENAROVA

"Pride and Prejudice," Jane Austen's beloved 19th-Century novel about relationships in middle-class English society, is about to get competing sequels--180 years after the original story was published.

"Presumption," due out in October, was written by Santa Monica-based art writer Julia Braun Kessler and British novelist Gabrielle Donnelly, who also is living in Southern California. The pair wrote under one pen name, Julia Barrett, "since it's more British-sounding," Kessler said.

British novelist Emma Tennant has completed "Pemberley," which also will be published in October.

"Pride and Prejudice," published in 1813, is in the public domain. The 410-page novel tells the story of the middle-class Bennet family, whose five daughters experience marital troubles.

"It is the most favorite 19th-Century classic English novel--men love it and it speaks to women in a special way as well," said Eloise Hay, an English literature professor at UC Santa Barbara.

Kessler said Austen outlined a sequel plot in the last chapter of "Pride and Prejudice." Following that, "Presumption" focuses on Georgiana Darcy, sister-in-law of Elizabeth Bennet, one of the five daughters and the main character in "Pride and Prejudice."

"Pemberley" takes a different tack, further developing Elizabeth's character and exploring her life. According to Publishers Weekly, Tennant wrote the book in three months, while Kessler and Donnelly spent about 3 1/2 years working part-time on "Presumption."

"I understand that nobody could be (Austen)," Kessler said. "But if you can get as close as possible without being burned, it's great."

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