Pride And Prejudice And Zombies Book Review

With the news that a film adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies in production, I think it is appropriate to review it’s literary origins.

Seth Grahame- Smith’s 2009 zombie mishmash of Jane Austen’s classic novel starts with the following quote “It is truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains”.  A mysterious plague has come over England and Meryton. The dead are returning to life and are hungry for new brains to eat. Elizabeth Bennet is determined to destroy the zombie horde. When she meets Mr. Darcy, she is fighting two battles. One with the undead and the other with a man she is determined to dislike.

This book is clever. While paying homage and respectful of the original novel, the insertions of the zombies fit in well into the narrative. It makes sense that Elizabeth would be as quick with a weapon as she would be with her tongue.  While other writers and publishers jumped on the bandwagon with supernatural mishmashs of other classic novels, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies stands out as the first and best of this new genre.

I recommend this book.



Sloane Hall Book Review

The mark of a classic is that we can go back to it multiple times and it’s as good as the first time. Another mark of a classic is that it can be partially turned on it’s head, while retaining the elements that keep us coming back.

Libby Sternberg’s novel, Sloane Hall, transports Charlotte Bronte’s classic novel, Jane Eyre from Victorian England to 1920’s Hollywood. She also changes the sexes of the characters, adding a very interesting twist. John Doyle is an orphan. He is learning to become a cinematographer, but a stupid mistake costs him his job.

He takes a job as a chauffeur for Pauline Sloane, a tempestuous actress with a mysterious past. Ignoring the warning signs, Johns falls in love with his employer. Their future seems bright when she returns his affections, but there are secrets and conspiracies that could force them apart.

I thoroughly enjoy this book. It’s still Jane Eyre, I can still hear Charlotte Bronte’s voice. What Ms. Sternberg does well as a writer (which many writers cannot do) is manipulate certain elements within the story to create her own, while remaining true to the original.

I highly recommend this book.

Northanger Abbey Review- I Wouldn’t Mind Visiting This Abbey

Classic novels are classic for a reason. In what they hope will be an easy book to write and have published, some writers may try to take a classic novel and bring it into the 21st century.

In the most recent cases of the modern reboots of Sense and Sensibility and The Age Of Innocence, the writers did little more than transfer the language, technology, clothing and transportation from the original time period to our time.

Thankfully, Val McDermid’s new novel,  Northanger Abbey, based upon the Jane Austen novel of the same name, does not belong in this category.

This story is the same as the original novel. Cat Moreland is 17 years old, from Piddle Valley, Dorset, England. A, sheltered, bookwormish minister’s daughter who was home schooled, Cat, is invited by her parent’s childless friends, Mr. and Mrs. Allen to Edinburgh (Bath in the original novel).

As in the original novel, she meets the brother/sister duo’s of John and Isabella Thorpe and Henry and Eleanor Tilney. I won’t give the story away (I highly recommend reading this book if you haven’t), but one sibling duo turns out to not be so trustworthy and the other does turn out to be trustworthy.

Northanger Abbey is not one of my favorite Austen novels. This original novel is very much a transition book for Austen, as a writer.  Her writing is starting to contain elements of later, more mature novels, but there are still traces of  her early Juvenalia works.  As to this modern reboot, the middle section was a little slow, but overall, it was a good read.

A Re-Imagined Classic- Not Really

Anytime a modern writer attempts to re-write a classic, they are walking a fine line. It could be interesting and open up a new audience to the classic, or it could be a writer’s easy way to write their next work without actually doing much of the work.

The Lizzie Bennett Diaries is an example of the first. Joanne Trollope’s modern reboot of Jane Austen’s classic novel, Sense and Sensibility, using the same title, is an example of the second.

Sense and Sensibility, for the uninitiated, is Jane Austen’s first published novel. The protagonists, Elinor and Marianne Dashwood are sisters. Elinor is practical and realistic, Marianne is romantic and dream filled. After the death of their father, their elder brother inherits the family home and they are forced, with their mother and youngest sister to find another place to call home.

Ms. Trollope does an admirable job of translating the novel from regency era to the modern era.  However, it doesn’t take much effort to make the necessary changes to move the novel from the 19th century to the 21st century. The only advantage of this novel, is introducing readers to Austen who otherwise might have not read her.

I picked this book up as a lark at the library.   Would I recommend it?  Yes and No.  If the reader is an Austen virgin, then yes, especially if the reader might not understand the original novel.  But to a longtime Janeite who had read original novel many times over and has seen several screen adaptations, I would say no.

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