There aren’t many novels to truly compare to Jane Austen (probably none if I’m being honest). However, there are several kindred novels available for readers who love her work.
Known for her swoon-worthy romantic novels (without being too mushy), biting wit, an irony that critiques social hypocrisy, and memorable characters both male and female, Jane Austen’s literary style stands out and has influenced several writers that followed.
Two hundred years after her death, Jane still has a loyal following of Janeites. Plus, readers with an undying devotion for Mr. Darcy (though I confess an equal devotion to Captain Wentworth).
All true Janeites know that it’s rare for a novel to be as good as say Pride and Prejudice. However, there are still several other fabulous books out there if you are looking to fill that Austen void! Here are 50 suggestions.
50 Books To Read if You Love Jane Austen
(In No Particular Order)
#1: Daniel Deronda By George Eliot
Goodreads Summary: “George Eliot’s final novel and her most ambitious work, Daniel Deronda contrasts the moral laxity of the British aristocracy with the dedicated fervor of Jewish nationalists. Crushed by a loveless marriage to the cruel and arrogant Grandcourt, Gwendolen Harleth seeks salvation in the deeply spiritual and altruistic Daniel Deronda. But Deronda, profoundly affected by the discovery of his Jewish ancestry, is ultimately too committed to his own cultural awakening to save Gwendolen from despair.”
Why you should check it out: Yes, the ending drives me crazy (as does Mirah who I cannot even tolerate). However, Daniel Deronda remains a classic for a reason. It’s romantic, ironic, and from one of the greatest female writers of all time. The depth of the characterization of Gwendolen is absolutely breathtaking. Give Daniel Deronda a chance. Then do yourself a favor and watch the British mini-series starring Romola Garai, Hugh Dancy, and Hugh Bonneville.
#2: North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
Goodreads Summary: “When her father leaves the Church in a crisis of conscience, Margaret Hale is uprooted from her comfortable home in Hampshire to move with her family to the north of England. Initially repulsed by the ugliness of her new surroundings in the industrial town of Milton, Margaret becomes aware of the poverty and suffering of the local mill workers and develops a passionate sense of social justice.
This is intensified by her tempestuous relationship with the mill-owner and self-made man, John Thornton, as their fierce opposition over his treatment of his employees masks a deeper attraction. In North and South, Elizabeth Gaskell skillfully fuses individual feeling with social concern, and in Margaret Hale creates one of the most original heroines of Victorian literature.”
Why you should check it out: I have a serious question for Jane Austen lovers. Why wouldn’t you read North and South? The relationship dynamics between Margaret and Thornton are not only extremely similar to Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but Thornton is about as swoon-worthy and dashing as they come! Edited by Charles Dickens, North and South is a nice mix between Dickens and Austen. Gaskell captures both the social and the domestic with perfection. A top favorite for sure!
#3: Anne of Green Gables Series By L.M. Montgomery
Goodreads Summary: “Favorites for nearly 100 years, these classic novels follow the adventures of the spirited redhead Anne Shirley, who comes to stay at Green Gables and wins the hearts of everyone she meets.”
Why you should check it out: If Anne (spelled with an ‘e,’ obviously) hasn’t stolen your heart yet, then go read the Anne series (just in time to compare it to the new adaptation coming soon to Netflix) ASAP. Anne of Green Gables has exquisite and descriptive language as well as memorable characters that not only leap off the page but stay with you for a lifetime.
To top everything off with a nice bow, Montgomery gave us Gilbert Blythe. While a piece of my heart definitely belongs to Austen characters, my real favorite literary couple will always be Anne and Gilbert. Who knew breaking a slate over someone’s head would turn into quite the romance? Like Mr. Darcy, Gilbert also knows quite a bit about how to do the large, selfless gestures. Sigh. And if you love Anne, you don’t want to miss another of Montgomery’s amazing series: The Emily books starting with Emily of New Moon.
#4: Jane Eyre By Charlotte Bronte
Goodreads Summary: “Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead and subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed.
With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.”
Why you should check it out: Because Catherine Morland would have totally devoured every word of Jane Eyre! If you love Austen’s Romantic Heroes, chances are (if you are anything like me), you also have a thing for Heroes of the Byronic persuasion. So, enter into Jane’s intense gothic story at Thornfield Hall, and allow Bronte’s words to invite you into one of the best novels of all time. You might just fall for the mysterious and moody Mr. Rochester in the meantime…
#5: The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer
Goodreads Summary: “When the redoubtable Sir Horace Stanton-Lacy is ordered to South America on Diplomatic Business he parks his only daughter Sophy with his sister’s family, the Ombersleys, in Berkeley Square.
Upon her arrival, Sophy is bemused to see to see her cousins are in a sad tangle. The heartless and tyrannical Charles is betrothed to a pedantic bluestocking almost as tiresome as himself; Cecilia is besotted with a beautiful but quite feather-brained poet; and Hubert has fallen foul of a money-lender.
It looks like the Grand Sophy has arrived just in time to sort them out, but she hasn’t reckoned with Charles, the Ombersleys’ heir, who has only one thought – to marry her off and rid the family of her meddlesome ways.”
Why you should check it out: When Jane Austen wrote and published her now infamous novels, she clearly had no idea the momentum she gave to future writers. I mean, she basically created an entire genre of books. Because of Jane, Regency Romance is a thriving literary genre today. And Georgette Heyer writes some of the best! If you haven’t yet discovered Heyer, start with The Grand Sophy.
#6: I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
Goodreads Summary: “Through six turbulent months of 1934, 17-year-old Cassandra Mortmain keeps a journal, filling three notebooks with sharply funny yet poignant entries about her home, a ruined Suffolk castle, and her eccentric and penniless family. By the time the last diary shuts, there have been great changes in the Mortmain household, not the least of which is that Cassandra is deeply, hopelessly, in love.”
Why you should check it out: Mostly, I love this book for the way Cassandra invites me into her family’s strange little world. If you love the Bennet household, I truly believe you will love the Mortmain household as well. Just don’t go in expecting a romantic happily ever after…
#7: Austenland by Shannon Hale
Goodreads Summary: “Jane Hayes is a seemingly normal young New Yorker, but she has a secret. Her obsession with Mr. Darcy, as played by Colin Firth in the BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, is ruining her love life: no real man can compare. But when a wealthy relative bequeaths her a trip to an English resort catering to Austen-crazed women, Jane’s fantasies of meeting the perfect Regency-era gentleman suddenly become realer than she ever could have imagined.
Decked out in empire-waist gowns, Jane struggles to master Regency etiquette and flirts with gardeners and gentlemen; or maybe even, she suspects, with the actors who are playing them. It’s all a game, Jane knows. And yet the longer she stays, the more her insecurities seem to fall away, and the more she wonders: Is she about to kick the Austen obsession for good, or could all her dreams actually culminate in a Mr. Darcy of her own?”
Why you should check it out: Austenland is for us Mr. Darcy fans who just can’t get enough of Colin Firth. Basically, check out this light-hearted read if you’re a looking for a book to identify with! Imagining your own Darcy-like character in modern day doesn’t hurt either…
#8: Evelina by Fanny Burney
Goodreads Summary: Frances Burney’s first and most enduringly popular novel is a vivid, satirical, and seductive account of the pleasures and dangers of fashionable life in late eighteenth-century London.
As she describes her heroine’s entry into society, womanhood and, inevitably, love, Burney exposes the vulnerability of female innocence in an image-conscious and often cruel world where social snobbery and sexual aggression are played out in the public arenas of pleasure-gardens, theatre visits, and balls. But Evelina’s innocence also makes her a shrewd commentator on the excesses and absurdities of manners and social ambitions–as well as attracting the attention of the eminently eligible Lord Orville.
Evelina, comic and shrewd, is at once a guide to fashionable London, a satirical attack on the new consumerism, an investigation of women’s position in the late eighteenth century, and a love story.
Why you should check it out: A precursor to Jane Austen, Evelina stands out as a must-read for Janeites. Fanny Burney’s writing made a huge impact on Austen. Jane even mentioned Burney in her letters as a favorite author. And like Jane Austen, Burney had a great knack for perception and humor. If you love satire and take an interest in Austen’s literary influences, Evelina (and Burney’s other novels) should be at the top of your list.
#9: For Darkness Shows the Stars By Diana Peterfreund
Goodreads Summary: “It’s been several generations since a genetic experiment gone wrong caused the Reduction, decimating humanity and giving rise to a Luddite nobility who outlawed most technology.
Elliot North has always known her place in this world. Four years ago Elliot refused to run away with her childhood sweetheart, the servant Kai, choosing duty to her family’s estate over love. Since then the world has changed: a new class of Post-Reductionists is jumpstarting the wheel of progress, and Elliot’s estate is foundering, forcing her to rent land to the mysterious Cloud Fleet, a group of shipbuilders that includes renowned explorer Captain Malakai Wentforth–an almost unrecognizable Kai. And while Elliot wonders if this could be their second chance, Kai seems determined to show Elliot exactly what she gave up when she let him go.
But Elliot soon discovers her old friend carries a secret–one that could change their society . . . or bring it to its knees. And again, she’s faced with a choice: cling to what she’s been raised to believe, or cast her lot with the only boy she’s ever loved, even if she’s lost him forever.
Inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion, For Darkness Shows the Stars is a breathtaking romance about opening your mind to the future and your heart to the one person you know can break it.”
Why you should check it out: For Austen fans who also love everything of the YA variety, For Darkness Shows the Stars definitely stands out. A retelling of Persuasion, Diana Peterfreund cleverly alters the familiar love story with a YA post-apocalyptic twist.
#10: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Goodreads Summary: “A portrait of the residents of an English country town in the mid nineteenth century, Cranford relates the adventures of Miss Matty and Miss Deborah, two middle-aged spinster sisters striving to live with dignity in reduced circumstances. Through a series of vignettes, Elizabeth Gaskell portrays a community governed by old-fashioned habits and dominated by friendships between women.
Her wry account of rural life is undercut, however, by tragedy in its depiction of such troubling events as Matty’s bankruptcy, the violent death of Captain Brown or the unwitting cruelty of Peter Jenkyns. Written with acute observation, Cranford is by turns affectionate, moving and darkly satirical.”
Why you should check it out: The satire on society, the lovely relationship between sisters (though much older), and Gaskell’s keen observance skills mark Cranford as a lovely old-fashioned read all Jane Austen fans should enjoy.
#11: To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Goodreads Summary: “Connie Willis’ Hugo and Nebula Award-winning Doomsday Book uses time travel for a serious look at how people connect with each other. In this Hugo-winning companion to that novel, she offers a completely different kind of time travel adventure: a delightful romantic comedy that pays hilarious homage to Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat.
When too many jumps back to 1940 leave 21st century Oxford history student Ned Henry exhausted, a relaxing trip to Victorian England seems the perfect solution. But complexities like recalcitrant rowboats, missing cats, and love at first sight make Ned’s holiday anything but restful – to say nothing of the way hideous pieces of Victorian art can jeopardize the entire course of history.
Delightfully aided by the perfect comedic timing of narrator Steven Crossley, To Say Nothing of the Dog shows once again why Connie Willis is one of the most talented writers working today.”
Why you should check it out: Sometimes Austen readers need a little time travel, romance, and sci-fi to bide the time. The biting wit and humor is just the cherry on top!
#12: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies By Seth Grahame-Smith
Goodreads Summary: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”
So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she’s soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.
What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read.”
Why you should check it out: I’m not a fan of zombies. Like at all. The Walking Dead just isn’t my thing, but then Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (the film adaptation) came around and I LOVED it. I haven’t read the book yet, but it is on my list…If you don’t mind a writer twisting the words of Jane (and ignore the prior and appalling summary that ‘ahem’ implied none of us want to read classics like Pride and Prejudice), then give this one a whirl.
#13: A Room with a View By E.M. Forster
Goodreads Summary: Lucy has her rigid, middle-class life mapped out for her until she visits Florence with her uptight cousin Charlotte, and finds her neatly ordered existence thrown off balance. Her eyes are opened by the unconventional characters she meets at the Pension Bertolini: flamboyant romantic novelist Eleanor Lavish, the Cockney Signora, curious Mr. Emerson and, most of all, his passionate son George.
Lucy finds herself torn between the intensity of life in Italy and the repressed morals of Edwardian England, personified in her terminally dull fiancé Cecil Vyse. Will she ever learn to follow her own heart?
Why you should check it out: Jane Austen fans are often hopeless romantics. So, for all the hopeless romantics out there, go and read Forster’s brilliant novel, A Room with A View. It’s an intelligent, Edwardian love story that explores the hypocrisy of her time as Lucy chooses between her priggish fiancee and the man that opens her heart to true love.
#14: Rebecca By Daphne du Maurier
Goodreads Summary: “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . .
The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady’s maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives–presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave.”
Why you should check it out: Another Gothic romance Catherine Morland would read with (as Anne Shirley might say) rapturous delight. There are no words to describe how much I love this novel. If you haven’t read Rebecca yet, do it!! It’s a page-turner you won’t want to put down.
#15: The Semi-Detached House By Emily Eden
Goodreads Summary: “Emily Eden (1797-1869) was a British author. Her works include: Portaits of the People and Princes of India (1844), The Semi-Detached House (1859), The Semi- Attached Couple (1860), ‘Up the Country’: Letters Written to Her Sister from India (1866) and Letters from India (1872).”
Why you should check it out: From a more obscure Victorian author, Jane Austen readers may love Emily Eden if you want to find a more feel-good, fluffy novel to read. It’s sweet, happy, and charming. Plus, it’s fun to discover a less-known female writer.
#16: Little Women By Louisa May Alcott
Goodreads Summary: “Following the lives of four sisters on a journey out of adolescence, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women explores the difficulties associated with gender roles in a Post-Civil War America.”
Why you should check it out: While the happy ending is certainly debatable among Alcott fans (I personally fluctuate between Team Laurie & Team Jo single), what isn’t debatable is how lovable the March family is. A wonderful book to read over and over again.
#17: Lorna Doone By R.D. Blackmore
Goodreads Summary: “First published in 1869, Lorna Doone is the story of John Ridd, a farmer who finds love amid the religious and social turmoil of seventeenth-century England. He is just a boy when his father is slain by the Doones, a lawless clan inhabiting wild Exmoor on the border of Somerset and Devon. Seized by curiosity and a sense of adventure, he makes his way to the valley of the Doones, where he is discovered by the beautiful Lorna.
In time their childish fantasies blossom into mature love—a bond that will inspire John to rescue his beloved from the ravages of a stormy winter, rekindling a conflict with his archrival, Carver Doone, that climaxes in heartrending violence. Beloved for its portrait of star-crossed lovers and its surpassing descriptions of the English countryside, Lorna Doone is R. D. Blackmore’s enduring masterpiece.”
Why you should check it out: Perhaps you’ve already read Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and a few other classic British Lit authors, and now you’re ready to venture out into new territory. I say, give R.D. Blackmore and his romantic star-crossed classic a try. You may just fall in love with his masterful description of the countryside with a good romance to boot.
#18: The Heiress of Winterwood (Whispers on the Moors #1) By Sarah E. Ladd
Goodreads Summary: “Pride goes before the fall . . . but what comes after?
Darbury, England, 1814
Amelia Barrett, heiress to an ancestral estate nestled in the English moors, defies family expectations and promises to raise her dying friend’s infant baby. She’ll risk everything to keep her word—even to the point of proposing to the child’s father, Graham, a sea captain she’s never met.
Tragedy strikes when the child vanishes with little more than a sketchy ransom note hinting to her whereabouts. Fear for the child’s safety drives Amelia and Graham to test the boundaries of their love for this infant.
Amelia’s detailed plans would normally see her through any trial, but now, desperate and shaken, she examines her soul and must face her one weakness: pride.
Graham’s strength and self-control have served him well and earned him much respect, but chasing perfection has kept him a prisoner of his own discipline.
Both must learn to accept God’s sovereignty and relinquish control so they can grasp the future He has for planned for them.”
Why you should check it out: For the Christian audience seeking sweet Regency period romances, Sarah E. Ladd is a great place to start! Plus, I’m a firm believer in rewarding pretty book covers…
#19: The Pursuit of Love By Nancy Mitford
Goodreads Summary: “Few aristocratic English families of the twentieth century enjoyed the glamorous notoriety of the infamous Mitford sisters. Nancy Mitford’s most famous novel, The Pursuit of Love satirizes British aristocracy in the twenties and thirties through the amorous adventures of the Radletts, an exuberantly unconventional family closely modelled on Mitford’s own.
The Radletts of Alconleigh occupy the heights of genteel eccentricity, from terrifying Lord Alconleigh (who, like Mitford’s father, used to hunt his children with bloodhounds when foxes were not available), to his gentle wife, Sadie, their wayward daughter Linda, and the other six lively Radlett children. Mitford’s wickedly funny prose follows these characters through misguided marriages and dramatic love affairs, as the shadow of World War II begins to close in on their rapidly vanishing world.”
Why you should check it out: Are you searching for another (and somehow rare) witty author? Take a closer look at Nancy Mitford’s The Pursuit of Love first published in 1945. A fantastic Comedy of Manners you don’t want to miss.
#20: Far From the Madding Crowd By Thomas Hardy
Goodreads Summary: “Independent and spirited Bathsheba Everdene has come to Weatherbury to take up her position as a farmer on the largest estate in the area. Her bold presence draws three very different suitors: the gentleman-farmer Boldwood, soldier-seducer Sergeant Troy and the devoted shepherd Gabriel Oak. Each, in contrasting ways, unsettles her decisions and complicates her life, and tragedy ensues, threatening the stability of the whole community. The first of his works set in Wessex, Hardy’s novel of swift passion and slow courtship is imbued with his evocative descriptions of rural life and landscapes, and with unflinching honesty about sexual relationships.”
Why you should check it out: I love this book not only for Hardy’s descriptive pastoral writing but for his passionate characters. There aren’t words for how much I adore Gabriel Oak and I think you will too. I’m glad that the latest film adaptation finally gave this romantic character his due.
#21: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day By Winifred Watson
Goodreads Summary: “Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.”
Why you should check it out: While not as romantic as the film adaptation, Miss Pettigrew remains a hilarious Cinderella story about mistaken identities. Read it for the humor and fabulous characterization.
#22: Becoming Jane Austen By Jon Spence
Goodreads Summary: “Jon Spence’s fascinating biography of Jane Austen paints an intimate portrait of the much-loved novelist. Spence’s meticulous research has, perhaps most notably, uncovered evidence that Austen and the charming young Irishman Tom Lefroy fell in love at the age of twenty and that the relationship inspired Pride and Prejudice, one of the most celebrated works of fiction ever written. Becoming Jane Austen gives the fullest account we have of the romance, which was more serious and more enduring than previously believed. Seeing this love story in the context of Jane Austen’s whole life enables us to appreciate the profound effect the relationship had on her art and on subsequent choices that she made in her life.
Full of insight and with an attentive eye for detail, Spence explores Jane Austen’s emotional attachments and the personal influences that shaped her as a novelist. His elegant narrative provides a point of entry into Jane Austen’s world as she herself perceived and experienced it. It is a world familiar to us from her novels, but in Becoming Jane Austen, Austen herself is the heroine.”
Why you should check it out: I know I’m not the only fan who speculates about Jane Austen’s romance with Tom Lefroy. Spence takes a closer look at the evidence to do just that. I loved reading about the possibilities. A great read!
#23: Enthusiasm By Polly Shulman
Goodreads Summary: “Julie’s best friend, Ashleigh, is an enthusiast. Julie never knows what new obsession will catch Ashleigh’s fancy, but she does know she’s likely to be drawn into the madness.
Ashleigh’s latest craze is Julie’s own passion, Pride and Prejudice. But Ashleigh can’t just appreciate it as a great read; she insists on emulating the novel’s heroines, in speech, dress, and the most important element of all—finding True Love. And so Julie finds herself with Ashleigh, dressed in vintage frocks, sneaking into a dance at the local all-boys prep school, where they discover some likely candidates.
The problem with Ashleigh’s craze this time, however, is that there is only one Mr. Darcy. So when the girls get a part in the boys’ school musical, what follows is naturally equal parts comedy and romance, as a series of misinterpreted—and missed—signals, dating mishaps, and awkward incidents make Julie wonder if she has the heart for True Love.“
Why you should check it out: If you’re seeking YA books about Austen fanatics with a chick lit flare, Enthusiasm is for you! This is a cute contemporary and romantic read.
#24: Belinda By Maria Edgeworth
Goodreads Summary: “The lively comedy of this novel in which a young woman comes of age amid the distractions and temptations of London high society belies the challenges it poses to the conventions of courtship, the dependence of women, and the limitations of domesticity. Contending with the perils and the varied cast of characters of the marriage market, Belinda strides resolutely toward independence. Admired by her contemporary, Jane Austen, and later by Thackeray and Turgenev, Edgeworth tackles issues of gender and race in a manner at once comic and thought-provoking. The 1802 text used in this edition also confronts the difficult and fascinating issues of racism and mixed marriage, which Edgeworth toned down in later editions.”
Why you should check it out: This is your chance to read a very celebrated female author contemporary to Jane Austen. You will see wit and romance, but look out for a bit more moralizing than Jane.
#25: I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend By Cora Harrison
Goodreads Summary: “When shy Jenny Cooper goes to stay with her cousin Jane Austen, she knows nothing of the world of beautiful dresses, dances, secrets, gossip, and romance that Jane inhabits. At fifteen, Jane is already a sharp observer of the customs of courtship. So when Jenny falls utterly in love with Captain Thomas Williams, who better than Jane to help her win the heart of this dashing man?
But is that even possible? After all, Jenny’s been harboring a most desperate secret. Should it become known, it would bring scandal not only to her, but also to the wonderful Austen family. What’s a poor orphan girl to do?
In this delicious dance between truth and fiction, Cora Harrison has crafted Jenny’s secret diary by reading everything Jane Austen wrote as a child and an adult, and by researching biographies, critical studies, and family letters. Jenny’s diary makes the past spring vividly to life and provides insight into the entire Austen family—especially the beloved Jane.”
Why you should check it out: A lovely YA book about young Jane as she might have been. Very cute story based on orphan Jane Cooper who stayed with Jane in 1791 and met Captain Thomas Williams (perhaps they inspired Persuasion??). A whirlwind romance actually ensued with Jane as her bridesmaid.
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