Pride and Prejudice: Never Leave!
by Anastasia Tuckness
As a seventh-grader, I had pretty much exhausted our school’s library and was wandering aimlessly with no good book prospects in sight when my friend’s mom gave me a slim red volume and said, “Try this.” It turned out to be Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice,” the first adult book I ever read and one that became a lifelong favorite. Once I’d entered that world of country lanes, drawing rooms, and witty banter, I never wanted to leave. Recently I discovered some new portals into that world! Shannon Hale’s hilarious “Austenland”, both the book and DVD, feature a modern-day Jane who finds all men sadly lacking when compared to Mr. Darcy. Full of determination to get this obsession out of her system, Jane books a stay at the historical re-enactment resort called “Austenland.” She’s definitely not looking for love—or maybe she is, she’s just looking in all the wrong places! Sweet and silly, this story hits all the right notes. (Find the gothic-flavored sequel “Midnight at Austenland” as an e-book in Overdrive/Libby.)
For a book that follows the original “Pride and Prejudice” storyline closely but in a completely different format, I was very amused by “Darcy Swipes Left” by Courtney Carbone. Texts, emojis, check-ins, acronym slang and more tell the story in an updated yet accurate way, from the genteel moments to the shockers.
Jo Baker’s “Longbourn” tells the story of the Bennetts’ servants. It’s an excellent, intricate family epic of historical fiction set in the world of “Pride and Prejudice”. I loved the servants’ characters and adventures, and it was fascinating to see them weave into the familiar frame of the original characters and plotline. Realistically, the tone and content are heavier and more difficult than that of the original.
A bit further afield but no less delightful is Mary Robinette Kowal’s “Shades of Milk and Honey.” The setting and culture are very similar, with the same attention to domestic details, wily captains, and mysteriously reserved men. But--in this book, people can use "glamour" (i.e. magic) to create beautiful illusions, which adds an interesting layer; in reflecting on glamour, the book also offers a thoughtful perspective on art and artists.
Do you have a favorite book? Chances are, you can visit that world another way—and then you’ll never have to leave it!