When Bonnie Herron began to write My Courage Rises, she had been a member of the Jane Austen Society for a number of years. In Herron’s story of Fiona Gilman, references to Jane Austen fit naturally into the story. It is certainly plausible that Herron’s well-read heroine of the 1920s would have read Jane Austen’s novels, which had been published more than one hundred years earlier.
Familiarity with Austen’s works is not necessary for readers of Herron’s story to become absorbed in the trials of her heroine. Every reader will appreciate the ways that Fiona Gilman uses characters and quotes from Jane Austen, her favourite author, to make herself feel better, especially in times of trouble.
Readers that are already fans of Jane Austen will enjoy looking for references to Austen or her characters in My Courage Rises:
- Elizabeth Bennet’s words to Mr. Darcy;
- Fiona’s reference to Anne Elliot;
- Fiona’s reference to Emma Woodhouse;
- Angus MacArthur’s acknowledgement, of the importance of Jane Austen, to Fiona Gilman.
Such nods as the above to Jane Austen and her novels join many other books, movies, plays, and the ten-pound note that celebrate the genius of Jane Austen. Nobody will be surprised when a young Scottish woman of the 1920s, heroine of My Courage Rises, reads and appreciates Jane Austen’s novels.