I am continually amazed by how writers are inspired by Jane Austen’s characters from Pride and Prejudice. There are so many retellings and “what if’s,” recounting and elaborating on the relationship of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet, our favorite romantic couple, that it makes my head swim — but — this may be a first! Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael has just been release in eBook. It is a literary mash-up of our favorite novel with an interesting twist! Here is the publisher’s description and an excerpt for your enjoyment.
Get ready for Pride and Prejudice with brisket! Lizzy Bennet’s an Anglo-Jew with a Jewish mother, some Jewish attitude, and lots to say about Mr. Darcy, who has some serious attitude problems of his own when it comes to “Hebrews.” When these two proud people meet, is it still love at first…slight? Will prejudice keep them from bridging the gap between Jew and Gentile? Austen’s beloved novel gains new layers of comedy and drama in this ingenious mash-up.
“Hilarious and charming, genuinely delightful. An audacious reinterpretation of the divine Miss A which has one laughing out loud from the first page.” —Lauren Henderson, author of Jane Austen’s Guide to Dating
“Lev Raphael’s version of Pride and Prejudice develops a whole new dimension and Austen’s plot neatly accommodates the Jewish elements in this mash-up hand-made by a maven.” —Rachel Brownstein, author of Why Jane Austen?
“With a sly wit and deft hand, Raphael infiltrates the world of Austen’s most popular novel and plays a game of What If? that simultaneously creates something fresh and reveals anew the genius of the original prose. Never have the human foibles of pride and prejudice been exposed in such a delightful way.” —Michael Thomas Ford, author of Jane Bites Back
It is a truth universally acknowledged, not least by a Jewish mother, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.
However little known the feelings or views of such a man may be on his first entering a neighbourhood, this truth is so well fixed in the minds of the surrounding families, that he is considered the rightful property of some one or other of their daughters.
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” said his lady to him one day, “have you heard that Netherfield Park is let at last?”
Mr. Bennet replied that he had not heard.
“But it is,” returned she; “for Mrs. Long has just been here, and she told me all about it.”
Mr. Bennet made no answer but a sigh.
“Do you not want to know who has taken it?” cried his wife impatiently, for Mrs. Bennet (née Goldsmid) was a yenteh.
Mr. Bennet shrugged with all the energy his aged shoulders could muster. “You want to tell me, and I have no objection to hearing it.”
This was invitation enough.
“Why, my dear, you must know, Mrs. Long says that Netherfield is taken by a young man of large fortune from the north of England; that he came down on Monday in a chaise and four to see the place, and was so much delighted with it, that he agreed with Mr. Morris immediately; that he is to take possession before Michaelmas, and some of his servants are to be in the house by the end of next week.”
“What is his name?”
“Is this Bingley married or single?”
“Oh! Single, my dear, to be sure! A single man of large fortune; four or five thousand a year. What a fine thing for our girls!”
“How so? How can it affect them?”
“My dear Mr. Bennet,” replied his wife, “how can you be so tiresome! You must know that I am thinking of his marrying one of them.”
“Is that his design in settling here?”
“Design! Nonsense, how can you talk so! But it is very likely that he may fall in love with one of them.”
“Indeed? Is he known to have a fondness for daughters of Israel?”
“Mr. Bennett! How could you! One should not ask such questions. We do not live in the Dark Ages.”
“But we live in Hertfordshire, and the differences are not altogether marked ones.”
“Never you mind, you must visit him as soon as he comes.” Mrs. Bennet had long despaired of Jewish husbands for her girls, given their rural situation, and seeing each girl settled with any man of means whatsoever was her deepest desire.
“I see no occasion for such a visit. You and the girls may go, or you may send them by themselves, which perhaps will be still better, for as you are as handsome as any of them, Mr. Bingley may like you the best of the party.” Mr. Bennet enjoyed kibbitzing, not least because his wife seemed ever oblivious to his meaning.
Mr. Bennet, whose grandfather was a Ben-David from Amsterdam, was so odd a mixture of quick parts, sarcastic humour, reserve, and caprice, that the experience of three-and-twenty years had been insufficient to make his wife understand his character. He was oil to his wife’s water.
Her mind was less difficult to develop. She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of her life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting, news, and kugel.
Lev Raphael is a former academic, radio talk show host, and newspaper columnist who’s published twenty books in genres from memoir to mystery with publishers like Doubleday, St. Martin’s, Faber and Walker. His fiction and creative nonfiction appears in dozens of anthologies In the US and in Great Britain, and he has taught in colleges and universities around the country.
A world traveler and lecturer, his next adventure will be his second German book tour for his memoir My Germany this fall, sponsored by the American Consulate in Frankfurt, and will also be reading from his novel Rosedale in Love at the Edith Wharton in Florence conference next June (Austen and Wharton were major influences in his career). Visit Lev at his website Lev Raphael, on Twitter as @LevRaphael, and on Facebook as Lev Raphael.
© 2007 – 2011 Lev Raphael, Austenprose