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.
Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile, by Lev Raphael
eBook: Kindle & Nook
© 2007 – 2011 Lev Raphael, Austenprose
Thanks for the spotlight. I love your site (and insight).
” 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…..”
Me too Laurel Ann, me too.
Is it that people have actually exhausted reading the original novels themselves and are now bored? Or, is it more likely that they can make money? The publishing firms must find this off shoot of the Jane Austen industry, because it is an industry, most satisfyingly lucrative. If Jane became unpopular, God forbid, I suppose they would have to revert to spin offs of the Harry Potter series. Harry Potter!!! Maybe another generation, another era. Publishers probably have it earmarked for the future.
All the best,
I wasn’t bored, Tony, and I didn’t write this book for money, since I make plenty of money from my other books and write full-time. I wrote it for fun.
And I wrote it in response to “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” which I felt was a system imposed upon the book, one that radically altered it without logic (how does Lizzy’s family afford to send her to China to study martial arts, for instance?). I wanted to do something completely different, as you’d see if you read the book.
What fun! See also Jane Austen in Boca by Paula Cohen, another clever take on practically everyone’s favorite novel.
Hi Lev. I hope you don’t take all this personally. It’s not at all meant like that.
It worries me that all these “spin offs,” or different ways of interpreting Jane Austen’s original stories are a lazy way for people to engage with the novels. It’s letting others do their reading for them in a way.All readers should be able to analyse, make predictions, empathise, make suppositions on their own, surely?
Tony, I must step in here and say that on several occasions you have expressed your concerns, displeasure and or disgust with the “spinoffs.” While I honor your right to your own opinions, you have never mentioned if you have ever read one. Have you? Would you be as miffed if we were reading and talking about Shakespeare “spinoffs” or Star Trek fan fic, or is it just Jane Austen that you think is being violated?
We ask for civility and gentility here, so I would ask you to please be kind to our authors, their books and the industry in further comments.
Best regards, Laurel Ann
One could just as easily complain about the boom in memoirs, and say, “People should have their own experiences, Live their own lives, and not need to read about the lives of others.” Or decry books about spirituality and say we should be guided from within, not by publishers.
Technically, btw, my book is not a spin-off since it does not take any of the Austen characters into a different realm post-P&P. It is the book itself, re-imagined with the Bennets as a family of different religion and history.
As a non-writer and non-academic, I have become extremely interested in novels leveraging P&P (either rewrites, as Lev Raphael wrote – and I will read! or sequels). I have also been reading lots of fiction and non-fiction from the Regency period as well as travel in England to better understand this period.
It all stemmed from seeing the 2005 P&P film and reading P&P for the first time (not sure why I don’t recall reading it 30 years ago in school, but I don’t). It captured my imagination so much that I want to keep the characters and the experience alive, hence the constant search for the books being written directly based on the characters or novels from the time period.
A comment on spin offs: I read them because the original characters are so well written that for me, they live. I want them to live on, nay, I need for them to live on. I realize that there are publishers out there drooling at the mouth to find another book with Jane Austen inspired theme so they can make money. But, I imagine that I’m not the only one who can’t let the characters rest.
Tony, I find your British “take” on things you perceive to be American very interesting. Bobble heads, toddler P & P, other incarnations of Austen books, these are things you find frustration with, interest me. Perhaps a gentler tone might be good but I do appreciate your POV.
I think a good question was raised: have you read any of the fanfiction or spinoffs?
Of all the people I know who love the reimaginings and sequels and spinoffs as much as I do, every single one would tell you that nothing compares to reading the original works by Austen. I think we love these other novels because we just don’t want to let go of Austen’s characters.
I think The Jewess and the Gentile sounds very unique in terms of Austen reimaginings. Is it going to be released as a print book as well?
Hi, Anna, thanks for asking. There are no plans for a print version at this time, given the growth in ebook sales. If you’re hesitant about a book reader, so was I, until I tried one and was hooked. I have thousands of books at home, and have long since run out of shelf space. It’s delightful to have an “annex” that doesn’t take up much room, and something to travel with.
I, too, was wondering whether this book would come out in print. Since it isn’t, will it become available as a PDF download? I much prefer the tactile sensation of reading a book, flipping pages. I may come to an ereader later in life but I’m not there yet. (I’m also running out of shelf space but one of my kids will eventually move out, so…).
Karen, thank you for your reply. A great reply..
I have been thinking about Laurel Anne’.s and Lev’s obvious frustration with my bullish responses.
Why I choose this particular blog to make these comment’s on is precisely because it is the foremost review vehicle for this sort of spin off novel..
What i would love to hear are peoples,, maybe, Laurel Ann’s measured,, considered and balanced defence of these sort of novels. I would appreciate and respect that. I might even aggree Ha! ha!.Laurel Ann i know you would like me to go away and I will,
I’ve deleted your blog off my list of blogs that I follow.
Hi Tony, I don’t really think I need to defend my personal choice of reading Austenesque sequels and will not be drawn into a debate with you about it.
We all appreciate Jane Austen for different reasons Tony. I just ask you to be more tolerant of ours.
Cheers, Laurel Ann
Just one parting shot Laurel Ann. I’m off to Morocco for a holiday tomorrow. It’s 39 degrees centigrade there at the moment. Bugger!!! Will Marilyn , Emily, Abigail and myself melt? Anyway, getting back to the point of this message. Can we have a sense of humour about all this? Most of what I say and do is English humour Laurel Ann. You should come over here more often and find out what we are all about.It might help you understand Jane more too. ha! Ha!
PS It’s bloody hard writing messages on this blog now that I have deleted my link. I have to remember the name every time and Google it.!!!!!!
Have a lovely holiday with your family Tony. I hope the weather is fine. Cheers, Laurel Ann
Interesting, Laurel, that Tony deleted your blog, but had to issue a parting shot, and claimed hew as being humorous. Sorry, but I have been to England more than once and have many English friends and acquaintances and his posts didn’t read like joshing, they read like criticism. And, i might say, like low-grade trolling.
I’d like to make one point in favor of your book in print. I say while I fully enjoy my Kindle. I don’t do any Jane Austen or fanfiction or Georgian or Regency books in anyway but hard copies, as I want to physically touch them when I go back to them for more research. I know that it sounds backward but this is an area I take very seriously as well as derive great pleasure from. I started my library of all things Jane well before I received my Kindle so I made that decision then. These are just my opinions but I thought you might like to hear a different perspective.
If ebook is the way I have to go to read your book, then I’ll do it. Is it available for the Kindle? Pride and Prejudice fanfiction is my favorite guilty pleasure.