Friday, August 7, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!


I've got enough unread books sitting my bedroom to choke a Kindle (which, by the way, those Kindles just seem kind of unnecessary to me). But I digress...

A few weeks ago, I was over at a friend's house when I spotted a book that I NEEDED to borrow: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. I haven't read the original version of Pride and Prejudice, published in 1813. My reading tastes tend to run modern day. But I enjoy a good zombie movie...why wouldn't a zombie book be as interesting?

It was published earlier this year. "The story follows the plot of Pride and Prejudice, but places the novel in an alternative universe version of 19th century England where zombies roam the countryside. The undead are generally viewed as a troublesome nuisance, albeit a deadly one, and their presence often affects the plot of the story in subtle ways — messages between houses are sometimes lost when the couriers are captured and eaten; characters openly discuss and judge the zombie-fighting abilities of others; women weigh the pros and cons of carrying a musket (it provides safety, but is considered "unladylike")." It seems that women that are skilled in the ways of killing zombies are expected to give up that once they are married. Elizabeth and her sisters were also smart enough to keep knives hidden in their boots as well.

The most interesting relationships in this version are between Elizabeth and Mr. Collins, and Mr. Collins and his wide, Charlotte (a friend of Elizabeth's). Mr. Collins, a pastor, was the cousin of Mr. Bennet (Elizabeth's father). (For reasons I just didn't understand, upon Mr. Bennet's death, Mr. Collins would inherit their house. Mrs. Bennet and their daughters would not.) Mr. Collins works for Lady Catherine de Bourgh, a woman known far and wide for her ability to kill "unmentionables."

"Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry; and in seeking a reconciliation with the Longbourn family he had a wife in view, as he meant to choose one of the daughters, if he found them as handsome and amiable as they were represented by common report" (pg. 56). So after Mr. Collins decides it was Elizabeth he wanted to marry, she turns him down. He later set his sights on Charlotte.

But somewhere between his intentions for Elizabeth and then Charlotte, Charlotte was attacked by the unmentionables. Not enough to kill her outright, but she knew she had only months left before she was done for. In those months, Charlotte hoped she could have a good Christian marriage, and then a good Christian beheading and burial by her new husband. She assumed Mr. Collins would be able to see the transformation as time went on and would be able to spare her the worst of it.

But amazingly enough, Mr. Collins doesn't seem to see that his new wife is slowly dying: she's covered in sores, stutters and stammers, drools and staggers. In fact, no one seems to see this. "It had been months since she had seen Charlotte, and kind months they had not been, for her friend's skin was now quite gray and marked with sores and her speech was appallingly laboured. That none of the others noticed this, Elizabeth attributed to their stupidity--particularly Mr. Collins, who apparently had no idea that his wife was three-quarters dead" (page 120). There were some discussion questions at the end of the book, and one of them was about Charlotte's transformation.

"Is Mr. Collins merely too fat and stupid to notice his wife's gradual transformation into a zombie, or could there be another explanation for his failure to acknowledge the problem? If so, what might that explanation be? How might his occupation (as a pastor) relate to his denial of the obvious..." (pg. 318).

My personal take on this is that his work as a pastor and for Lady Catherine just made him oblivious to Charlotte. She was his second choice for a wife anyway. Remember: "Having now a good house and a very sufficient income, he intended to marry." Mr. Collins was just so preoccupied with his work, and it was easier to just not care.

I briefly read an online review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies where the reviewer suggested a modified version of The Sound of Music, with zombies and ninjas. That would RAWK!

Quirk Publishers also "updated" another Jane Austen book: Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.

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