Review of Flirting with Pride and Prejudice

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Flirting with Pride & Prejudice

Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece

edited by Jennifer Crusie

Benbella Books, Dallas, Texas, 2005.  230 pages.

Starred Review.

Ah, tremendous fun!  This book talks about Pride and Prejudice, plays with Pride and Prejudice, and reveals that other people have their little foibles and weaknesses about Pride and Prejudice, just as I do.  (And what an amazing number of people have a crush on Colin Firth!)

The authors who contributed cover a wide range, with Chick Lit writers particularly well-represented.  Some of the essays are even written by men!  (Well, two.)

I recently bought and viewed Becoming Jane, and my sister-in-law gave me the Collector’s Edition of Pride and Prejudice (with Colin Firth) and I found myself quite taken in by the accompanying book of behind the scenes stories of making the movie.  So I was definitely in the mood for this book.

Of course, I have my own stories about my love of Jane Austen.  I did my Sophomore English Literature paper on her and ended up using the time to read every one of her books — and then wrote the paper staying up all night the night before.

I confess that I regularly reread her books.  I was recently captivated by a photo-illustrated edition of Pride and Prejudice put out by Dorling Kindersley, which I found in the library and couldn’t resist.  I’m planning to watch Becoming Jane all over again, with commentary, which isn’t something I normally do.

So — I definitely enjoyed reading other people’s musings on the subject of Jane Austen and her immortal characters.  What is it about Mr. Darcy that enchants us?  How about Elizabeth?  And do we think that Charlotte Lucas was a sell-out, or just practical-minded?

There are a wide variety of offerings here, from discussions to confessions to playful rewritings to new stories.  I liked the story Mercedes Lackey wrote about what might have happened if one of her own characters had gone to a party at Pemberley hosted by Elizabeth Darcy.  Jennifer Coburn compared Pride and Prejudice with Fiddler on the Roof.  Several discussed the implications of capturing the book on film.  I enjoyed Laura Resnick’s essay on Bollywood’s wonderful musical Bride and Prejudice, and what things translated well and what things didn’t.  Of course, there were several discussions of Mr. Darcy.  Teresa Medeiros’ title said it well:  “My Darling Mr. Darcy:  Why is the Unattainable so Irresistible?”  I also enjoyed Jill Winters’ take on the passionate secret life Mary Bennett was living behind the scenes.

I don’t need to say any more.  Those who are as enchanted with all things Austen as I am will want to read it just as soon as they find out the book exists.  Enjoy!

Thinner thighs and darker chocolate may not always be within our grasp, but thanks to Jane Austen, a brooding Englishman with an inscrutable gaze and good teeth will always remain just at our fingertips. — Teresa Medeiros

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www.sonderbooks.com/Nonfiction/flirting_with_pride_and_prejudice.html

Review of North by Northanger, by Carrie Bebris

North by Northanger

(Or, The Shades of Pemberley)

by Carrie Bebris

Reviewed July 5, 2007.
Forge, New York, 2006. 318 pages.

This is the third “Mr. and Mrs. Darcy” mystery by Carrie Bebris, extending the story begun by Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice. This one was by far my favorite. In this book, Elizabeth is expecting a child, and she finds a letter from Mr. Darcy’s mother, who died giving birth to Mr. Darcy’s sister Georgiana.

This book is well done. We get a puzzling mystery, where Mr. Darcy himself is accused of stealing diamonds. We get a perplexing experience at Northanger Abbey and even a hidden treasure. We meet again some characters from Jane Austen’s book, Northanger Abbey.

But most fascinating of all is getting to know the earlier Mrs. Darcy through her letters, especially those exchanged with Mrs. Tilney, the mother of the hero of Northanger Abbey. It’s fun to think how Elizabeth would have been affected by the reputation of her predecessor—but then to see her come to peace with that memory as she learns the heart of her husband’s mother.

This book gives you the chance to spend more time with two delightful people. You get to experience two happy people in love, facing the birth of a child at a time when giving birth could be dangerous, with perplexing difficulties to untangle as well.

The first two books in the series went a little too far with supernatural explanations of puzzling events for my taste. But this book had only a hint of such things, and they added atmosphere with the loving spirit of the former Mrs. Darcy.

Thanks to my friend Stephanie for urging me to try the third book in the series!