I have to say with poetry and now a graphic novel adaptation of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith (adapted by Tony Lee and illustrated by Cliff Richards) in a single week you might be wondering if Savidge Reads has been taken over by zombies. I can promise you whilst illness has be a forte for me this year it is not ‘the plague’ that has got me. I seem to just want to be trying more varied things and whilst I didn’t want to read the novel that this is based on, and I still haven’t actually read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (I know, I know), yet when my uncle got this out from the library and I saw it lying around I thought ‘well, why not?’
There is almost no point bringing up the whole storyline of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ because I think everyone on earth (I almost seriously think that) knows the story of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ don’t they? Well take that story and imagine the Hertfordshire town of Meryton is in the midst of a zombie flooded England and the Bennett sisters are being trained by their father to become warrior women who can perform the ‘pentagram of death’ at any zombie intruded ball.
Whilst Jane and Elizabeth, who is a ‘student of Shaolin, master of the seven-starred first’, enjoy their roles some of the sisters like flighty Lydia are slightly more worried about getting their dresses dirty with brains and not interesting the soldiers. Mrs Bennett is more bothered about them finding husbands and when Mr Bingley and Mr Darcy arrive in town this sets everyone in quite a stir.
You of course know what’s going to come after these two men ride into town, or do you? What Seth Grahame-Smith, and I am sure to some extent Tony Lee in his adaptation, has done is explain some of the characters actions in different ways. Why does Charlotte Lucas really accept Mr Collins hand? Why is the legendary female warrior Lady Catherine such a great slayer of zombies and such a character? Will there be a happy ever after, and what might happen to everyone else if the best slaying sister Elizabeth leaves for another shire?
I don’t always like a spin off. I almost think there is something a little unoriginal about them, why do authors not want to create something new rather than almost pilfer someone else’s story or idea’s (ironic from the man who wants to write a fictional tale of ‘Mrs Danvers’ life)? However there are times when it can work and be original. I’m thinking of ‘Wide Sargasso Sea’ by Jean Rhys or ‘Wicked’ by Gregory Maguire etc. I think this is one that works because it’s not what you would expect, it’s often quite funny, and at no point do you feel this has been done as some gimmicky piss-take/cashing in at Jane Austen’s expense. I do wish they hadn’t made Elizabeth blonde and Jane a brunette though, it really through me, I kept getting them mixed up.
As I said earlier, almost everyone knows the story of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ and I wonder if that is why I really rather enjoyed ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ all the more. It gave a story that I feel I know too well (in a nice way, I love the BBC adaptation to bits) and did something different with it, rather like the wonderful TV series ‘Lost In Austen’ only in this instance the storyline doesn’t have an avid reader disturbing it but a host of zombies instead. I’m not sure if the die hard Austen fans will like this or not but its something a bit different. I can’t say it’s made me want to rush and read ‘Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters’ but interestingly it has made me want to read some of Austen’s other work.
What are your thoughts on this Austen based twist, is it just a gimmicky cash in or a new and interesting take on her work? Who has read the book? Who is going to see the film, apparently Natalie Portman is producing it?