Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Tony Lee and Illustrated by Cliff Richards – A Review

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, adapted by Tony Lee and Illustrated by Cliff Richards (2010)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

Who would have ever thought that adding zombies to a classic novel like Pride and Prejudice would create the literary mash-up phenomenon? It started in 2009 when Seth Grahame-Smith took Jane Austen’s original work and mashed it together with flesh eating zombies. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies has since spawned a graphic novel, a prequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls, soon to be released sequel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After, and a movie adaptation is in production.

The storyline in the graphic novel edition has been adapted by Tony Lee from the Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith original. Regency England has become overridden with zombies, or unmentionables, and Elizabeth Bennet and her four sisters have each been trained in the “deadly arts,” a combination of both ninja skills and martial arts training, to fight off the maraudring hordes. Due to their father’s previous training in the “deadly arts”, the Bennet sisters are well known for being the fiercest and bravest zombie warriors in the Meryton area.

Illustrations by Cliff Richards for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (2010)

Following the classic plot of Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Bingley, a single man in possession of a good fortune moves into the area sending the Bennet household into an uproar. Mrs. Bennet has five unmarried daughters and has designs upon him marrying one of them. Bingley is introduced along with his sisters and good friend Fitzwilliam Darcy to the Bennet family at a local Assembly ball.  Bingley dances several times with Jane Bennet, encouraging Darcy to enjoy the ball and dance with her younger sister Elizabeth. Darcy, not wanting to mix with the local gentry, tells Bingley that Elizabeth is “not handsome enough to tempt me.” Elizabeth overhears Darcy’s reaction and instantly decides that he is the most arrogant man she’s ever met and that she must kill him to revenge her honor. His life is saved only by the zombie attack that occurs at the ball. Elizabeth and her sisters save the townspeople by forming their pentagram of death and killing all of the attacking unmentionables. As Darcy sees them fighting, he notices Elizabeth’s stellar skills and begins to look at her in a different way.

Illustrations by Cliff Richards for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (2010)

Throughout the rest of their acquaintance in Meryton, Darcy continues to look at her more and more in a positive light and begins falling in love with her. This is all unbeknownst to Elizabeth who still looks upon Darcy with contempt. The plot continues to play out similarly to the original with Darcy separating Bingley from Jane due to her inappropriate family, cousin and heir to Longbourn Mr. Collins arriving, Elizabeth rejecting his proposal, Charlotte in turn accepting him, Elizabeth’s trip to Kent, and Darcy’s failed proposal to her, etc. The elements of Austen’s story are all still there, only the added in zombie-killing action sequences have been added.

While the illustrations in the graphic novel are well drawn, it was a bit confusing trying to figure out who was who. The artwork is in black and white, so in scenes with lots of dialogue, it was confusing to figure out who is saying what.  As the novel progresses however, it’s easier to follow since the character list drops to just major characters only. I would have liked to have seen color illustrations in this graphic novel edition. I think it would have brought a different element to the zombie attack scenes. The lack of color made me feel like I was reading a newspaper comic rather than a graphic novel.

Illustrations by Cliff Richards for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel (2010)

The difficulty in following the character dialogue caused me to dislike the first half of the graphic novel. Once the plot picked up, and it was easier to follow the action, I found that I actually enjoyed it more. The mashed-up plot is an incredibly creative story that is a really interesting juxtaposition between ninjas, zombies, martial arts and Regency England. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: the Graphic Novel is an imaginative way to get more people to read classic novels, albeit not in their original context. Regardless, it is still making people check out the classics, which is very exciting.

This book is definitely not for the Austen purists out there. The story is liberally changed to make Lizzy an intense warrior, Lady Catherine the foremost zombie killer in all of England, and Charlotte Lucas into an unmentionable, just to name a few. For those willing to see a creative change in Jane Austen’s classic work, check it out, but do prepared for some gory, bloody bits!

3 out of 5 Regency Stars

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith, adapted by Tony Lee and illustrated by Cliff Richards
Random House Publishing Group (2010)
Paperback (176) pages
ISBN: 978-0345520685

2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for May 2010

The Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that Jane Austen inspired books are heading our way in May, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.  

Editor’s note: This month’s selections are comprised of re-issued, re-titled and re-written selections. Shocking! Has the economic recession finally hit Austen bookland?  

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired) 

Darcy & Elizabeth: Nights and Days at Pemberley, by Linda Berdoll 

Based on sales, Linda Berdoll may be the most successful Austen sequel writer ever. Inspired by the 1995 BBC/A&E mini-series of Pride and Prejudice, her first novel Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife was published in 2004 by Sourcebooks and continues the story of Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam Darcy after the conclusion of Jane Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice. The second book in the series Darcy & Elizabeth continues the passionate story of Jane Austen’s famous romantic couple after the birth of their twins. Both books in the series have ardent fans who adore them and others who detest them. There does not seem to be any middle ground. Obviously the yays have outweighed the nays. This reissue of Elizabeth and Darcy by Fall River Press by arrangement of Sourcebooks is a beautiful new hardcover edition printed on quality paper and expertly bound. The text is identical to the Sourcebooks edition, but you can not beat the incredible quality and price at $8.95. Why they did not begin with the first book in the series is beyond comprehension. Publisher’s description: It is several years since the felicitous union of Elizabeth Bennet and the dashing Fitzwilliam Darcy at the conclusion of Austen’s novel, and the couple are settling down to a life of domestic bliss, raising their twin infants at the Pemberley estate. All should be happy at home and hearth—but dark clouds loom on the horizon of Derbyshire. On the continent, the Napoleonic Wars are raging, and Wickham, Lydia Bennet’s despicable husband, has returned miraculously from his presumed death with vengeance in his heart toward Darcy and all whom he holds dear. Meanwhile, haughty Lady Catherine de Bourgh, still stung by her nephew’s betrothal to Elizabeth, schemes scandalously to unite their families’ bloodlines. Fall River Press, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1435123908. 

The Man Who Loved Pride and Prejudice: A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist, by Abigail Reynolds 

Previously published in trade paperback in 2008 as Pemberley by the Sea, Sourcebooks is trotting out yet another re-issue and changing the title, cover and size to (what one assumes) appeal to a larger audience? This modern take on Pride and Prejudice was well received by Austen genre readers who found it by word of mouth and not by its unappealing first cover. Unfortunately there is no mention of the previous title in the publisher’s description and unsuspecting buyers will be miffed when they discover they already own the first edition. Publisher’s description: A modern love story with a Jane Austen twist. Marine biologist Cassie Boulton has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab on Cape Cod. Proud, aloof Calder Westing III is the scion of a famous political family, while Cassie’s success is hard-won in spite of a shameful family history. When their budding romance is brutally thwarted, both by his family and by hers, Calder tries to set things right by rewriting the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet from Pride & Prejudice…but will Cassie be willing to supply the happy ending? Sourcebooks Casablanca, Mass market paperback, ISBN: 978-1402237324. 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Graphic Novel, adapted from the original novel by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith by Tony Lee and illustrated by Cliff Richards 

The infectious and unexplainable unmentionable P&P&Z franchise expands to a graphic novel format for art lovers and those who really do not want to read a work of world literature. Of all of the monster mash-up’s I still favor P&P&Z,  whose claim-to-fame is that it launced the mash-up genre. The graphic illustrations are, er, graphic, and should appeal to zombie fans everywhere. Publisher’s description: The New York Times Bestseller – Now An Eye-popping Graphic Novel of Manners, Morals, and Brain-eating Mayhem! It is known as “the strange plague,” and its unfortunate victims are referred to only as “unmentionables” or “dreadfuls.” All over England, the dead are rising again, and now even the daughters of Britain’s best families must devote their lives to mastering the deadly arts. Elizabeth Bennet is a fearsome warrior whose ability with a sword is matched only by her quick wit and even sharper tongue. But she faces her most formidable foe yet in the haughty, conceited, and somehow strangely attractive Mr. Darcy. As the two lovers meet in the ballroom and on the battlefield, they’ll soon learn that nothing—not even bands of ninjas, hordes of flesh-eating zombies, or disapproving aunts—can stop true love. Del Rey, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-0345520685. 

Sense & Sensibility (Marvel Comics), adapted by Nancy Butler from the original novel by Jane Austen and illustrated by Sonny Liew. 

Last year Marvel Comics issued their version of Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice. It was a big hit. So now they are moving on to what they describe as Austen’s second most popular novel Sense and Sensibility. Butler did a great job pairing down P&P and converting it into comicese, but the illustrations were out of sync. Sonny Liew, who had created the five covers for the P&P version has taken over the interior illustrations as well which is a huge improvement visually. He is quite talented so the combo of Butler and Liew make a great team. As with P&P, the comics will be published in five issues and hopefully combined into a hardcover edition after. This is issue number one. Publisher’s description: Award-winning writer Nancy Butler, adapter of Marvel’s best-selling adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, returns to Marvel with another Jane Austen classic: Sense and Sensibility! Alongside incredible artist Sonny Liew (My Faith in Frankie, Wonderland), Butler brings to life the world of Elinor and Marianne Dashwood, two daughters without parents or means, forced to experience hardship, romance, and heartbreak, all in the hopes of achieving love and lasting happiness. Marvel Comics, available online at www.marvel.com or your local comic shop. 

Lady of Quality/Charity Girl: Two Novels in One, by Georgette Heyer 

Another re-issue of a re-issue. Regency romance Queen Georgette Heyer is hot again thanks to Sourcebooks’ dedication and commitment to reissue her classic novels originally published between, 1929 – 1975. This re-issue of Lady of Quality and Charity Girl by Fall River Press by arrangement of Sourcebooks is a beautiful new hardcover edition printed on quality paper and expertly bound. The text is identical to the Sourcebooks’ two editions, but you can not beat the incredible quality and price for two novels at $8.95. Publisher’s description: Lady of Quality is the story of Miss Annis Wychwood, a proud and independent young woman living on her own in Bath in the early nineteenth century. Bored by the few suitors who have called on her, Annis is resigned to a future of serene solitude until adventure enters her life in the person of Miss Lucilla Carleton, an heiress seeking to escape an arranged marriage. Opportunity follows in the person of Mr. Oliver Carleton, Lucilla’s guardian. Oliver is the rudest man Annis has ever met—and the only one who has ever provoked strong feelings from her. Sparks fly from the friction between them, and neither is prepared for the romance they ignite. Charity Girl is the tale of another runaway, Miss Charity Steane, who is in flight from her aunt’s household when the Viscount Desford encounters her on the road to London. Chivalry dictates that Desford help the naïve Charity, and propriety demands that he lodge her with his dear friend Henrietta Silverdale. With Charity in the picture, Henrietta’s feelings toward Desford warm, and the Viscount soon finds himself torn between two women in a gentle comedy of manners and mishaps. Full of charm and delight, Lady of Quality and Charity Girl are two jewels in the crown of the writer regarded as the Queen of Regency romance. Fall River Press, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1435123960. 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Mansfield Park (Enriched Classics), by Jane Austen 

This interesting new Enriched Classics edition by Simon & Schuster of Austen’s dark horse Mansfield Park could lift the black veil of complexity for readers looking for additional information and notes on MP. I find these expanded editions the best for new students and veterans alike. One can always learn something new by supplemental material and see a new perspective on Austen’s novels with these annotated texts. Let’s hope it sheds some light upon the misunderstood heroine Fanny Price to subdue the discordance in the Austen community about her merits. ;-) Publisher’s description: In Mansfield Park, considered Austen’s darkest and most complex novel, the wealthy Bertram family’s social and private worlds are revealed through the eyes of Fanny Price, a poor relation residing with them. This edition includes: A concise introduction that gives the reader important background information, a chronology of the author’s life and work, a timeline of significant events that provides the book’s historical context, an outline of key themes and plot points to guide the reader’s own interpretations, a detailed explanatory notes, critical analysis and modern perspectives on the work, discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction and a list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader’s experience. Simon & Schuster Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world’s finest books to their full potential. Simon & Schuster: Mass market paperback, ISBN: 978-1439169438. 

Nonfiction 

Jane Austen and her Predecessors, by Frank W. Bradbrook 

Ok, even the venerable Cambridge University is jumping on the bandwagon and re-issuing their back list. In this well-deserved reprint of the 1966 edition, readers will be enlightened by Dr. Bradcock’s critical analysis of art and culture’s influence on Austen’s writing. This is scholarly stuff, but well worth a peek from your local library edition. Kudos to Cambridge for making the price accessible at $19.99. Publisher’s description: This is a study of influences on Jane Austen’s art and views of life. She assimilated and transformed certain writings of earlier essayists and novelists; she was herself a potent influence. Dr. Bradbrook provides the literary critic with a fresh position from which to inspect the novels. He isolates several kinds of influence that had affect on Jane, which he inspects one by one. First there are the periodical essayists, the moralists in prose and the writers of conduct books. These were sources of general reflections on moral and social behaviour: and especially interesting to Jane Austen when they touched on the position of women. Dr. Bradbrook sketches her knowledge of and taste in the drama and poetry of the eighteenth century. In the second half of the book Dr. Bradbrook analyses the influence that earlier novelists had on Jane Austen. Useful appendices reproduce some of the rarer sources. Cambridge University Press, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-0521148252. 

Ephemera 

2011 Jane Austen Companion to Life mini wall calendar, by Sourcebooks 

I know. It’s hard to think about next year’s calendar in May – but here you have it. If you order it now you will not be stymied in January when you realize you forgot to buy your Jane Austen calendar and everyone is sold out. This mini-wall calendar was inspired by Sourcebooks’ new gift book Jane Austen Companion to Life and includes great quotes and Brock color illustrations. I have to hand it to Sourcebooks. Their designers are the best in the book biz. Publisher’s description: This title includes charming original four-color illustrations created by well-known illustrators of the time, Charles Edmund Brock and his brother, Henry Matthew Brock. Austen fans will adore this year-long celebration of Jane’s world. This is the only wall calendar on the market celebrating Jane Austen. Austen books constantly sell well, and fans are always looking for more. It is perfect as a gift or self purchase for this audience. It features original illustrations and font from Jane Austen’s handwriting. Sourcebooks, Inc., Mini-wall calendar, ISBN: 978-1402244308. 

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann

Zombies are multiplying: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies – The Deluxe Heirloom Edition

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies - The Deluxe Heirloom Editon (2009)Gentle Readers: 

More zombies you ask? Yup! 

Just when you thought it was safe to go back into a bookstore, Quirk Books officially announced today a Deluxe Heirloom Edition of its New York Times bestselling Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, now with 30% more zombie action – yes – that’s 30% more bone crunching and brain eating zombies populating Jane Austen’s gently refined prose. 

From our perspective, it appears that zombie fans felt slighted after the text of the first edition only included 15% gore and goo in comparison to 85% classic literature and demanded more gruesome zombie action. To compensate, co-author Seth Grahame-Smith has taken a second crack at it by expanding the story. Let’s hope that none of Austen’s text was whittled out to make room! 

In addition to the expanded zombie mayhem, the Deluxe Heirloom edition includes lots of plush additions which you can read more about it at our co-blog, Jane Austen Today .

The new edition is due out November 1st (just in time for Holiday shopping) and you can pre-order you copy today. Quirk has also invited readers to join its recently launched Quirk Classics Facebook page where on July 15, 2009 at midnight, it will be announcing the next monster lit mash-up in the Quirk Classics series. Oh dear! Who’s next? Charlotte Bronte? Shakespeare? Charles Dickens? We are all anticipation! 

Charlotte Lucas married Mr Collins in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies Deluxe Ed (2009)

One of 13 new illustrations in the new and improved Deluxe Heirloom edition of Pride and Prejuice and Zombies. Charlotte Lucas marries Mr. Collins. She would have to be a zombie to agree to that!

Catch up on the zombie bedlam by reading our review of P&P&Z. We thought it a great high concept parody, but purist Austen fans are forewarned!

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for April

Jane's Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, by Claire Harman (2009)The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in April, so keep your eyes open for these new titles. 

Nonfiction 

Jane’s Fame: How Jane Austen Conquered the World, by Claire Harman 

This highly anticipated cultural biography of Jane Austen’s rise to fame and admiration by the masses has already raised an academic kerfuffle before it has even hit book stores. *ahem* It is on the top of my to be read pile, and I can not wait to dive in. Publisher’s description: This is a story of personal struggle, family intrigue, accident, advocacy and sometimes surprising neglect as well as a history of changing public tastes and critical practices. Starting with Austen’s own experience as a beginning author (and addressing her difficulties getting published and her determination to succeed), Harman unfolds the history of how her estate was handled by her brother, sister, nieces and nephews, and goes on to explore the eruption of public interest in Austen in the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the making of her into a classic English author in the twentieth century, the critical wars that erupted as a result and, lastly, her powerful influence on contemporary phenomena such as chick-lit, romantic comedy, the heritage industry and film. Part biography and part cultural history, this book does not just tell a fascinating story – it is essential reading for anyone interested in Austen’s life, works and remarkably potent fame. Here is my previous preview post about it. 

Canongate Books Ltd, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-1847672940 

Literature and Dance in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Jane Austen to the New Woman (Cambridge Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture), by Cheryl A. Wilson (2009)Literature and Dance in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Jane Austen to the New Womanby Cheryl A. Wilson 

We all know that Henry Tilney considers “a country-dance as an emblem of marriage. Fidelity and complaisance are the principal duties of both; and those men who do not choose to dance or marry themselves, have no business with the partners or wives of their neighbours.” Enuff said. Jane Austen loved dancing herself and included many scenes in her novels with characters engaged in this important social communion. If one understands the dance and its significance in 18th and 19th century society, then you are in a fair way to understanding love. From the publishers website: Literary critics often pursue analyses of music or painting and literature as ‘sister arts’, yet this is the first full-length study of the treatment of social dance in literature. A vital part of social life and courtship with its own symbolism, dance in the nineteenth century was a natural point of interest for novelists writing about these topics; and indeed ballroom scenes could themselves be used to further courtship narratives or illustrate other significant encounters. Including analyses of works by Jane Austen, W. M. Thackeray, George Eliot, and Anthony Trollope, as well as extensive material from nineteenth-century dance manuals, Cheryl A. Wilson shows how dance provided a vehicle through which writers could convey social commentary and cultural critique on issues such as gender, social mobility, and nationalism. 

Cambridge University Press, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0521519090 

Jane Austen: An Unrequited Love, by Dr. Andrew Norman (2009)Jane Austen: An Unrequited Love, by Dr. Andrew Norman 

Well, this shall certainly raise a few eyebrows! Dr. Andrew Norman has conducted a bit of Austen romance sleuthing. Touted as “The first book to reveal the identity of the mystery lover Jane Austen met in Devon in 1802,” we have read an excerpt that did not reveal who it is, but it looked promising, at least in the light of a good mystery. From the publishers website: Jane Austen is regarded as one of the greatest novelists in the English literary canon, and recent film and television adaptations of her works have brought them to a new audience almost two hundred years after her untimely death. Yet much remains unknown about her life, and there is considerable interest in the romantic history of the creator of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy. Andrew Norman here presents a new account of her life, breaking new ground by proposing that she and her sister, Cassandra, fell out over a young clergyman, who he identities for the first time. He also suggests that, along with the Addison’s Disease that killed her, Jane Austen suffered from TB. Written by a consummate biographer, Jane Austen: an Unrequited Love is a must-read for all lovers of the author and her works. 

Hardcover, The History Press, ISBN: 978-0752448749 

Jane Austen’s Narrative Techniques: A Stylistic and Pragmatic Analysis, by Massimiliano Morini 

It is a truth universally acknowledge that Jane Austen can put a sentence together like no other, so if you are curious how she does it so eloquently, you might enjoy this scholarly treatise that delves into the linguistic and narrative techniques of her style. For serious scholars, we are quite certain that linguistics Prof Henry Higgins Churchyard, creator of the Jane Austen Information Page will be enthralled. From the publishers website: Examining a wide range of Austen texts, from her unpublished works through masterpieces like Mansfield Park and Emma, Morini discusses familiar Austen themes, using linguistic means to shed fresh light on the question of point of view in Austen and on Austen’s much-admired brilliance in creating lively and plausible dialogue. Accessibly written and informed by the latest work in linguistic and literary studies, Jane Austen’s Narrative Techniques offers Austen specialists a new avenue for understanding her narrative techniques and serves as a case study for scholars and students of pragmatics and applied linguistics. 

Ashgate Publishing, Hardcover, ISBN: 978-0754666073 

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired) 

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith (2009)Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen & Seth Grahame-Smith 

The Internet frenzy that the announcement of this novel created may have been a huge surprise to us all, including its author and publisher, but it has caught the imagination of the public, who must be hungry for this kind of fare. Get ready to experience Pride and Prejudice as you have never read it before, resplendent with bone crunching zombie mayhem and ninja warriors. Oh dear. We all know that Elizabeth Bennet does not mind a bit of mud on her petticoat, but blood and brain matter might be a bit too much for propriety to bear.  Read my previous preview post here. Publisher’s description: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen’s beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. 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 as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Complete with 20 illustrations, this insanely funny expanded edition will introduce Jane Austen’s classic novel to new legions of fans. 

Quirk Books, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1594743344 

Pemberley Manor: Darcy and Elizabeth, for better or for worse, by Kathryn L. Nelson (2009)Pemberley Manor: Darcy and Elizabeth, for better or for worse, by Kathryn L. Nelson 

In this new continuation of Pride and Prejudice after the nuptials, we are given an intimate view of Darcy and Lizzy as newlyweds at Pemberley, and a haunting discovery of skeletons in the closet. Read my review here. Publisher’s description: How does “happily ever after” really work? As marriage brings an end to a romantic tale, it begins a new story: how does “happily ever after” really work? While Jane Bennet and Charles Bingley might be expected to get on famously, Mr. and Mrs. Darcy will surely need to work on their communication skills. What forces in Darcy’s past would give such a good man so difficult a public demeanor? The author posits an imaginative family background for Darcy from which he would have inherited his sense of social superiority and duty to the family name. When Darcy reverts to type, will Elizabeth’s stubborn optimism win the day after the honeymoon is over? While they say that opposites attract, how long can Lizzy and Darcy’s fundamentally different personalities get along without friction? Can they learn to understand each other? Can their love prevail over the inevitable clashes? 

Sourcebooks Landmark, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402218521 

The Nonesuch, by Georgette Heyer (2009)The Nonesuch, by Georgette Heyer 

Sourcebooks continues on their quest to re-issue all of Georgette Heyer’s beloved novels with one of her better known Regency era romances. This engaging story presents finding love at any age as we are introduced to the mature Sir Waldo Hawkridge, whose reputation as a ‘Nonesuch’ precedes him. When an inheritance includes a property in Yorkshire, he travels there and meets Tiffany Wield, a spoiled and selfish heiress and her far more appealing older companion, Ancilla Trent. Along for the ride in this Regency era comedy of manners is Sir Waldo’s young cousin, Lord Lindeth, who is a bit of neighborhood Casanova, falling in and out of love on a whim. When Miss Wield’s bad behavior culminates in a flight to London, Miss Trent entreats Sir Waldo’s help to retrieve her wayward charge before her reputation is ruined. He in turn must convince her that it is not above her station as a governess to fall in love with him. 

Sourcebooks, Casablanca, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-1402217708   

Cotillion (Popular Classics) Naxos Audio Book, By Georgette Heyer (2009)Cotillion (Popular Classics) Naxos Audio Book, by Georgette Heyer, read by Claire Willie 

I am so encouraged that Naxos Audiobooks is venturing into Heyerland with their first audio recording of one of Georgette Heyer’s most beloved novels Cotillion, considered one of the greatest Regency romances of all time. Up until this new recording, Heyer audios could only be obtained through sources in England, at astronomical prices. This abridged audio is read by Clare Willie and contains four CD’s. Hopefully, if it sells well, they will in future bring us additional unabridged versions. Publisher’s description: Young Kitty Charing stands to inherit a vast fortune from her irascible great-uncle Matthew–provided she marries one of her cousins. Kitty is not wholly adverse to the plan, if the right nephew proposes. Unfortunately, Kitty has set her heart on Jack Westruther, a confirmed rake, who seems to have no inclination to marry her anytime soon. In an effort to make Jack jealous, and to see a little more of the world than her isolated life on her great-uncle’s estate has afforded her, Kitty devises a plan. She convinces yet another of her cousins, the honorable Freddy Standen, to pretend to be engaged to her. Her plan would bring her to London on a visit to Freddy’s family and (hopefully) render the elusive Mr. Westruther madly jealous. Thus begins Cotillion, arguably the funniest, most charming of Georgette Heyer’s many delightful Regency romances. 

Naxos Audiobooks, Abridged audio CD’s, ISBN: 978-9626348970 

Austen’s Oeuvre 

Pride and Prejudice (Naxos Young Adult Classics), by Jane Austen, read by Jenny Agutter (2009)Pride and Prejudice (Naxos Young Adult Classics), by Jane Austen, read by Jenny Agutter 

This abridged audio recording of Pride and Prejudice read by English actress Jenny Agutter also includes impressive selection of extras as a great introduction to young students. Publisher’s description: “Pride and Prejudice” is a key title for the new Naxos AudioBooks series “Young Adult Classics”. An abridged recording with music makes this Regency novel much more accessible to the 21st century young adult keen to get to grips with the classics. “Pride and Prejudice” is a leading title for “Young Adult Classics”, being one of the pillars of English Literature, and Jenny Agutter’s friendly reading bridges the gap between the films and the book. This edition includes a bonus CD-ROM which contains the abridged and unabridged texts, and Top Teacher’s Notes by high profile English teacher Francis Gilbert. 

Naxos Audiobooks, Audio CD’s, ISBN: 978-9626349571 

Austen’s Contemporaries  

Samuel Johnson: The Major Works (Oxford World's Classics) (2009)Samuel Johnson: The Major Works (Oxford World’s Classics) 

Some scholars believe that Samuel Johnson, above all other writers, had the greatest influence on Jane Austen’s writing. Her family declared in later biographies that Johnson was her “favourite author in prose.” This extensive collection of his works tops out at a whopping 880 pages, so if you are inspired to know who influenced Austen the most, I would say it is a must read. Publisher’s description: Samuel Johnson’s literary reputation rests on such a varied output that he defies easy description: poet, critic, lexicographer, travel writer, essayist, editor, and, thanks to his good friend Boswell, the subject of one of the most famous English biographies. This volume celebrates Johnson’s astonishing talent by selecting widely across the full range of his work. It includes “London” and “The Vanity of Human Wishes” among other poems, and many of his essays for the Rambler and Idler. The prefaces to his edition of Shakespeare and his famous Dictionary, together with samples from the texts, are given, as well as selections from A Journey to the Western Islands of Scotland, the Lives of the Poets, and Rasselas in its entirety. There is also a substantial representation of lesser-known prose, and of his poetry, letters, and journals. 

Oxford University Press, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-0199538331 

Mary and The Wrongs of Woman (Oxford Worlds Classics), by Mary Wollstonecraft (2009)Mary and The Wrongs of Woman (Oxford Worlds Classics) , by Mary Wollstonecraft 

Even though Jane Austen and Mary Wollstonecraft were contemporaries, we have no evidence (that I am aware of) from her letters or family memoirs that she read her works. Scholars like to think she did. I find this a bit amusing. What they do share in common is the belief that women are equal to men in many ways. This edition could shed some light of the possibility of Austen’s subliminal feminist thinking by her characters. Publisher’s description: Mary Wollstonecraft is best known for her pioneering views on the rights of women to share equal rights and opportunities with men. They are expressed here in two novels in which heroines have to rely on their own resources to establish their independence and intellectual development. Strongly autobiographical, both novels powerfully complement Wollstonecraft’s non-fictional writing, inspired by the French Revolution and the social upheavals that followed. New to this edition is a completely rewritten introduction that incorporates the latest scholarship and features a consideration of the social formation of Wollstonecraft as a Revolutionary feminist and her literary-political career, as well as a critical account of the two novels. A new bibliography includes all the latest critical writing on Wollstonecraft, while heavily revised notes link her fiction to her extensive reading, her other writings and major events and issues of the day. In addition, the text has been completely reset, making it easier on the eyes. It is by far the highest quality edition available, and a great choice for readers interested in pre-Victorian literature and feminist history. 

Oxford University Press, Trade paperback, ISBN: 978-0199538904 

Austen Ephemera & Fun 

So You Think You Know Jane Austen?: A Literary Quizbook (Oxford Worlds Classics), by John Sutherland & Deirdre Le Faye (2009)So You Think You Know Jane Austen?: A Literary Quizbook (Oxford Worlds Classics), by John Sutherland & Deirdre Le Faye 

In this fun and challenging re-issue of the ultimate Jane Austen quiz, Austen authorities Le Faye and Sutherland challenge your Austen knowledge with engaging questions on her life and works brimming facts and trivia. Publisher’s description: How well do you really know your favorite author? In this reissue of the 2005 edition, ace literary detective turned quizmaster John Sutherland and Austen buff Deirdre Le Faye challenge you to find out. Starting with easy, factual questions that test how well you remember a novel and its characters, the quiz progresses to a level of greater difficulty, demanding close reading and interpretative deduction. What really motivates the characters, and what is going on beneath the surface of the story? Designed to amuse and divert, the questions and answers take the reader on an imaginative journey into the world of Jane Austen, where hypothesis and speculation produce fascinating and unexpected insights. The questions are ingenious and fun, and the answers (located in the back of the book), in Sutherland’s inimitable style, are fascinating. Completing the book guarantees a hugely improved knowledge and appreciation of Austen. Whether you are an expert or enthusiast, So You Think You Know Jane Austen? guarantees you will know her much better after reading it. 

Oxford University Press, Trade paperback, 978-0199538997 

Until next month, happy reading! 

Laurel Ann

Austen Tattler: News and Gossip around the Blogosphere

Austen Tattler Banner
“All that she wants is gossip, and she only likes me now because I supply it.” Marianne Dashwood, Sense and Sensibility, Chapter 31

Jane Austen around the blogosphere for the week of February 1st

Hot News of the week

Definitely the upcoming release of the book Pride and Prejudice and Zombies which was taken the Internet by deathly storm prompting the publisher Quirk Books to move up the release date. You can read my first thoughts about it at Jane Austen Today, this week on the reaction, and the controversy regarding the author’s attitude toward Janeites at AustenBlog.

Noteworthy

Jane Austen in the City of Bath, England is a lovely article with beautiful photos at Quillcards Blog

Get ready for Valentine’s Day with snarky Austen themed valentines at Elegant Extracts Blog.

Sense and Sensibility (2008) is being rebroadcast on Masterpiece Classic on Sundays Feb 1st & 8th. You can catch up on the first episode by reading the synopsis of episode one at the Masterpiece offical site and read reviews at Jane Austen’s World and here at Austenprose. Tune in to PBS this Sunday for the conclusion.

The Excessively Diverting Blog Award recognizes seven writers of note on the Internet presented by the Jane Austen Today blogging team.

Over at Risky Regencies indulge in a little escapsism with Highwayman of the High Seas: The Romance of the Smugler by Julia Justiss. Everyone loves a naughty pirate, yo ho!

Of Books and Bicycles is reading Claire Tomalin’s biography Jane Austen: A Life and has some interesting thoughts on her insights.

Arti at Ripple Effects asks which Austen Heroine was Jane herself most like?

Entertainment

The Black Moth is available from GirleBooks for free. Ms Place (Vic) at Jane Austen Today and Jane Austen’s World is an ardent Heyer fan and tells us that this is one of Heyer’s first novels, and now ready for you to download and read for free from GirleBooks.

The roundup of upcoming Austen inspired books for February is available for your persual here at Austenprose

The DVD of Lost in Austen will be available for purchase in North America on April 14th.

British actress Ruby Bentall is truly an up and commer. I have recieved more hits on her name in the past month than any other Austen actress. More than Gwenyth or Kiera or Kate. No lie! You can read about her at my post Ruby Bentall – A Most Memorable Mary Bennet at Jane Austen Today.

Book Reviews

Until next week, happy Jane sighting.

Laurel Ann

Zombies and Vampires and Jane Austen, Oh My! Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is Haute!

Pride Prejudice and Zombies, by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (2009)“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.” 

And so Gentle Readers begins the altered famous line from Jane Austen’s classic novel now renamed Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance – Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem and rewrtten by Seth Grahame-Smith being published this June by Quirk Books. 

What? Whoa, wait a minute here you say! 

Yes, it’s not a joke. I’m dead serious and so are the undead Zombies. I first wrote about this new novel combining Austen’s classic novel and Zombie bedlam at my co-blog Jane Austen Today. Now it’s all over the blogosphere. Even Paris Hilton might agree that combining Jane Austen and Zombies is hot. 

Breaking News!!!  Now it’s so HAUTE that Quirk has announced today that it is moving up its publication date two months to April!

Here is the publisher’s description 

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 as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead. Can she 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. 

Here is an excerpt compliments from Bryan at Cinema Suicide who tells me he has it from a super secret source. 

“Come, Darcy,” said Mr. Bingley, “I hate to see you standing by yourself in this stupid manner. You had much better dance.” 

“I certainly shall not. You know how I detest it.” 

“I would not be as fastidious as you are for a kingdom! I never met with so many pleasant girls in my life as I have this evening; and several of them are uncommonly pretty.” 

Before Mr. Darcy could respond, a chorus of screams filled the assembly hall, immediately joined by the shattering of window panes. Unmentionables scrambled in, their movements clumsy yet swift; their burial clothing in a range of untidiness. 

Guests who had the misfortune of standing near the windows were seized and feasted on at once. Elizabeth watched Mrs. Long struggle to free herself as two female dreadfuls bit into her head, cracking her skull like a walnut, and sending a shower of dark blood spouting as high as the chandeliers. 

Double whoa! I dearly love to laugh as much as the next Janeite (maybe more), but this is the most creative way I have ever seen to entice readership of literary classics. I fear Austen and literature purist will be appalled, and new novice readers will be amazed. Everyone who was forced to read P&P in high school and hated it (a small minority I assure you ;) will have a secret smirk when they hear about this one. In addition, last June we heard about “Jane Bites Back,” Michael Thomas Ford’s new novel which 

presents an undead Jane Austen, frustrated by nearly 200 years of writer’s block and 116 rejections of an unpublished novel she finished just before turning into a vampire; she’s becoming increasingly irritated that the rest of the world seems to be getting rich and famous off of her works and her life. 

Not quite sure how all of this will settle out, but it is interesting to watch the public reaction and I am glad to see people talking about Austen. There are pros and cons to the argument on free market vs. copyright restrictions. I just hope that Darcy isn’t killed and becomes one of the undead.

More Austen Zombie mayhem around the blogosphere