23 Sep 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies By Jane Austen and Seth Grahame -Smith.

So begins Pride And Prejudice And Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austin 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. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry. Complete with romance, heartbreak, sword fights, 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.

FIRST SENTENCE: It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.


I can't claim that I have ever read Pride And Prejudice but am assured that this version, albeit with the addition of zombies, is very true to the book.

All about manners, etiquette and, with the occasional zombie (otherwise known as unmentionables) thrown in, I found the novel extremely slow and hard work - with it's different construction of sentence and use of words, I found myself constantly translating' into today's way of writing.

Less witty than it thinks it is, there were some humorous moments but unfortunately these were few and far between. Am I now persuaded to read to read the the original? Probably not.

MY RATING: 2 out of a possible 5.


SPOILERS are necessary, but as most of you know the story that shouldn't be a problem.

"...transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.", says the blurb on the back cover, but this is too great a claim for this book. It has however made me reflect on my approach to the classics of English Literature, which have been studiously avoided since schooldays convinced me that there was nothing to be had from these historical irrelevancies.

Well over 25 years since I read Pride and Prejudice and yet I found the story here, virtually unchanged. True, the addition of zombies is certainly a new element, but even this is a minor inconvenience. The amount of gore laden description in relation to zombies is minimal and their intrusion into the story sparse. The only real effect of the zombie curse is that the Bennet sisters have all sworn blood oaths to the crown to defend the country against the afflicted and are renowned for their mastery of the deadly arts. Indeed they have all spent 6 of their formative years studying at the Shao-Lin temples in China. This as you may imagine has made Elizabeth a redoubtable young woman who extends beyond pithy badinage, into kicking seven shades out of anyone or anything that gets in her way. Mr Darcys initial proposal receives such a response and the most gory exchanges in the book are nothing to do with the zombies who seem to settle for eating the servants or the plebs from the village at best. On being tested by Lady Catherines favourite Ninjas, Elizabeth,

"...flung her Katana across the dojo, piercing the ninjas chest and pinning him against a wooden column. Elizabeth removed her blindfold and confronted her opponent, who presently clutched the sword handle, gasping for breath. She delivered a vicious blow, penetrating his rib-cage and withdrew her hand-with the ninjas still-beating heart in it. As all but Lady Catherine turned away in disgust, Elizabeth took a bite, letting the blood run down her chin and onto her sparring gown."

Now then, I think we can probably all agree that this is not what we expect of our classical young ladies. so I think that even those inclined to tales of zombies could well find this book disappointing in that the peak of violence is still the living on the living as the privileged classes are more than capable of coping with the undead.

The book does however retain a good deal of the wit and lively commentary of manners that I remembered and the characters surrounding the key protagonists are much as I recalled them. Mrs Bennet is a trifle more over zealous than in the original and would probably have taken to her bed for several months had she witnessed the above scene and Mr.Collins every inch the pathetic whimpering clergyman which I enjoy immensely. There is a peculiar delight in the use of the word 'balls' which my teenage snickering self roared at regularly throughout this book, especially at the moment which I refer to as the second proposal; " 'Your balls Mr. Darcy?'He reached out and closed her hand around them, and offered 'They belong to you, Miss Bennet.' " One might suggest that this is a pithy comment about the nature of marriage but one is far too sensible and sensitive in that department to suggest so. In the study notes at the end of the book the author challenges the reader to consider the metaphorical involvement of zombies in the story, critics having suggested that the,

"zombies represent the authors views towards marriage - an endless curse that sucks the life out of you and just won't die."

I of course could not possibly comment on that especially so hard on the heels of an anniversary. So all in all, a bit of entertainment, a spoof not terribly grand in style as it has all of its grandeur in the original. It's a giggle, a bit of fun and it has made me want to go back and read the original again, and Sense and Sensibility, and Wuthering Heights, and Vanity Fair.......



Kelly said...

This is one that doesn't really appeal to me. Perhaps because (prepare yourself for this admission) I've never read any Jane Austen! (Unbelievable, I know!)

Just for the record, I have read Wuthering Heights AND Jane Eyre.

Vivienne said...

I don't think this one would appeal to me. I want to read the original Jane Austen books and leave it at that. Good review though.

Petty Witter said...

And here was me thinking I was the only one who hadn't read Pride And Prejudice or indeed any of the other so called classics though I did do Shakespeare and Chaucer at school.

Cara Powers said...

You really MUST read Pride and Prejudice. I can't stress this enough. There's a reason there are blogs devoted entirely to Jane Austen. I don't know anyone male or female that hasn't liked it.

Jenners said...

When I heard about this book, I thought it was a joke. It just seems so ridiculous ... but at the same time, I admire the author's chutzpah at messing with such a beloved book. (And have I read P&P? Sadly no. I'm almost embarrassed to admit this. It seems like a requirement to have a book blog to have read this or some other Austen book. Ssssshhh...don't tell.)

I enjoyed your review ... and your husband's thoughts too. I heard there is yet another version now -- something about Jane Austen mixed up with sea monsters. I think it is supposed to be pretty bad.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Petty and TheMe, you put a knife in my heart with your cavalier dismissal of a novel which is one of my all-time favorites in the English language.

And I'm not talking about the vampire spoof! Alas! I don't know if I can ever forgive you.

Petty Witter said...

Speaking on behalf of us both, please try Grandmere.

themethatisme said...

Almost Austen like over-dramatisation there Grandmère. I did say it has inspired me to re-read the original.

Grandmère Mimi said...

All right then, I forgive you both. I read all of Austen's novels when I was a teenager, and they helped form me. I read them over and over and take great delight in Jane's sparkling prose.

Heather said...

just minutes ago I read a review of the same book over at My tragic Right Hip . It almost makes me want to read the book for the humor of it all.

Deanna McFadden said...

Oh! You really must read the original; it's also funny, but the humour's quite different, more reserved, than in the mash-up.

I read one review of this book where they said they wished it was written by someone who actually liked Austen, and I kind of agree. It might have made the whole thing a little more palatable.

However, Charlotte grossed me out COMPLETELY.

Sheila (bookjourney) said...

Thanks for the review of this... I am still working my way through Pride and Prejudice and just think I dont need to add zombies to the book. :)