Feral Park - What if Jane Austen had had a black-sheep brother? Let's call him Chad. Chad Austen. What if Chad had always chafed at the literary preciousness of his sister Jane's mannered tales? The kind of chat-filled tales of the heart wherein characters sit in properly appointed drawing rooms with tea cups and cakes and exchange the sort of whispered confidences that in actuality took place nowhere upon this planet? And certainly not during the Regency period, known to British scholars as the seediest, most licentious and delightfully sensuous of any in the kingdom's illustrious history. Then perhaps he'd have written a book not unlike Feral Park. But with one rather large difference.
Feral Park isn't simply a parody of a Jane Austen novel, though it contains deliberately parodical elements. Feral Park is one author's attempt to tell a good many of the stories in a single novel which Austen eschewed by virtue of her own fear of over-embracing all things human. Every wart and carbuncle. And this book has its share of warts and carbuncles. But what it also has is something that didn't come to be fully employed until the days of the enterprising Victorians: a strong narrative engine working off multiple pistons. Feral Park is a well-populated place (home to animals that stand on both two legs and four - and in one case a single leg, God bless her). Feral Park is where humans go to be human even among the lace and the frills and stumbling, inelegant attempts at civility. How would our Jane feel about such a book? Having read it, would she ever speak to Chad again? You be the judge.