“I declare after all there is no enjoyment like reading! How much sooner one tires of anything than of a book! — When I have a house of my own, I shall be miserable if I have not an excellent library.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
“A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony in a moment.” Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Title: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe
Author: Melissa de la Cruz
Pub date: 2017
First impressions: A fun, frothy book perfect for curling up with a hot cup a tea, comfy clothes while a fire roars and snow falls.
When it comes to Pride and Prejudice variations, it’s not so much how true to the story the author remains but rather how do the characters “sound.” Are they funny? Witty? Do their behaviors match the time period they are in? Can we see the original characters within the variations? Can the author create characters that not only resemble their origins but most of all, are the characters fun?
These are all very serious questions that take hold in my mind when I read a variation. Whether or not I like a book is not so much how the setting is placed, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies anyone?, but rather can I see the traits within the characters are they were originally written and can I or do I give a damn about them? Make no mistake, most of the variations come under the unfairly genre umbrellaed as Chick Lit which usually gets pounced on by snobby lit reviewers but as someone, that would be me, who’s spent more than half their life somehow entrenched in books professionally, I thumb my nose at these assholes because what is important is that someone is reading and not what they are reading.
A bit of a rant there.
This brings me up to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. I am not afraid to say my opinion once lost is not lost forever as variations come in all shapes and sizes. What drew me, and eventually charmed me, about Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is the following:
- Darcy Fitzwilliam is a female high powered hedge fund manager and not some simpering female character with no mind of her own
- She’s from Pemberly, Ohio. Any book where the setting is connected to the Midwest always appeals to me
- Darcy’s best friend, Bingley Charles, is gay
- Luke Bennet and his ideals and mores closely match Lizzie Bennet
- it is Darcy’s father that is the shrew and not her mother
- de la Cruz sets updates the book to current times so we easily relate to the characters
- Fitzwilliam Darcy came from money. Darcy Fitzwilliam was disinherited and made her own way in the world. This is important because Darcy does not need a man to make her happy or to save her. Her choices are very deliberate and show the expanse of the character’s emotional and mental worth.
- Darcy is not a female archetype that permeates through most of Chick Lit. You know the type: The heroine is wronged in love but she remains pure of any responsibility for her decisions and actions. One of the big reveals in these stories is the heroine suddenly “discovers” her faults and works to change them. Darcy, on the other hand, knows her faults form the get-go and her struggles are yes, the prejudices of what she is and what she is perceived to be.
- Also, Darcy says “shit” a lot which I really enjoyed.
Oh yes, the story:
Darcy Fitzwilliam is called home when she finds out her mother has cancer. Her relationship with her father is thin and much of Darcy’s interactions with her family, including her mother, have been strained for a number of years. During the family’s annual Christmas party, she comes across Luke Bennet who she has sworn to hate forever since he taunted and teased her all through school. There is one drunken night of did they or didn’t they which sets the course as Darcy and Luke battle it out over: is this the real deal, an infatuation, or some kind of revenge? There are almost marriages, break-ups, misunderstandings abound through the secondary characters. We know already where the story is heading so nothing is a big surprise here and de la Cruz is certainly not creating new ground but the book is a fun, a fast read, and enjoyable.
Even with this very positive review, I would be remiss in not mentioning the book is maligned over at Good Reads and LibraryThing even though it was given a positive review in Publisher’s Weekly which typically is a good indicator on how well a book sells.
What are the complaints?
- Bingly and his boyfriend contemplating moving in with a few days of meeting each other is “unbelievable” and “not realistic.” (Lydia and Wickham.)
- Darcy’s on and off relationship with her boyfriend since high school is also not plausible and how dare she drag him around. (No one has ever, ever been in a relationship that went off and on for years? Only me? Ok.)
- Luke’s younger brothers are terrors that destroy school property and Darcy swoops in to pay for it, and the complaint here is how DARE the principal take the money from Darcy. (Male Darcy tracking down Lydia and paying everyone off so she doesn’t lose her reputation.)
- Darcy and her dad having an acrimonious relationship for eight years? Also not believable or realistic. (My mom and I had an acrimonious relationship for most of my adult life. So why is this unrealistic again?)
- Darcy’s dad to push her to marry her high school boyfriend was also seen as “how can that really happen?” (Mrs. Bennet, anyone?)
Fans of Pride and Prejudice are the harshest critics when it comes to variations because if it is not on point, it’s worthless trash. This is frustrating because yes, it’s not Austen but it doesn’t make the story any less fun to read. I just don’t get this mentality when it comes to deviations of Austen’s work. For Pete’s sake, The Davinci Code is given nearly 4 stars and it reads as a misogynistic piece of trash written by a third grader.
Take all of that information as you will but I would give this a solid would recommend to fans of P+P variations and those looking for a fun read that won’t strain the brain too much.
P.S. The Hallmark Channel is releasing a movie of the same name for their holiday season titles. As I recall, Luke becomes a personal chef at the end of the book which doesn’t jive with his work as an award winning carpenter he’s touted to be through the book. In the movie, Luke is a personal chef who owns a restaurant so maybe a mistake in book editing is now a major plot point in the movie? Whose to say! Movie will be shown on November 23 on the Hallmark Channel.
A sample of their lyrics:
Dear Mr Darcy we don’t want to be cruel
But if we saw you on the street we’d push you into a pool
Dear Mr Darcy we don’t mean to be curt
But we only want to see you in a wet white shirt
Sense and Spontaneity is back again with another singing ode, this time to Lizzie, in Obstinate Headstrong Girl. Inspired by “Helena Kelly’s ‘Jane Austen, the Secret Radical,’ and that really great scene in the BBC P&P where Lady Catherine is super insulting, and Elizabeth Bennet owns her like a boss.”
Shy retiring spinster?
This satirical comic could put you through the ringer!
Her letters were notorious for casting shade,
And every word she wrote, she did it to get paid.
I am a big fan of perfumes, scented oils, candles, and anything else that smells good and has some kind of theme or idea attached to it. It should be no surprise, then, to discover there are quite a few perfumes, soaps, and oils that can help you feel like you’re a part of Austen’s world whether drawing from the Regency era or inspired by.
Below are some of the scents you can buy to get you in the Austen mood.
Pemberley: A Jane Austen Inspired Perfume by Immortal Perfumes ($30+)
The notes are rosewood, coriander, cedarwood, honeysuckle, hyacinth, peony, and vetiver. The scent is best described as sweet and floral.
Longbourn by Latherati Soap ($12)
The scent is best described as sweet honeysuckle & tart lemon mellowed and warmed by amber, tonka bean and musk.
The Jane Austen Solid Perfume Palette by Latherati Soap ($16)
Six samples of the following scents:
- Barton Cottage – rose, violet & lily of the valley sit on a bed of green ivy with fruity notes of juicy raspberry & sweet yellow pear grounded in patchouli, caramel, white vanilla and sandalwood
- Hartfield – ripe strawberries mingle with orchid, jasmine, muguet & violet and a touch of plum, musk & vanilla
- Longbourn – honeysuckle with green leafy grass notes smoothly blended with zesty lemon and herbal undertones immersed in tonka bean and musk
- Mansfield – a cup of red clover tea marbled with sweet baby roses and earthy sandalwood
- The Abbey – soothing lavender floating on a base of cedarwood, rosewood, cardamom, warm amber, vetiver and tonka bean.
- The Cobb – marine, ozone & sea spray with whispers of jasmine, freesia, lily, citrus and wood grounded by the slightest hint of musk
Latherati Soap has an extensive collection of perfumes, lotions, bath salts, and soaps inspired by Austen.
Jane Austen Perfume Collection by Wicked Good Perfume ($14.95)
Another sampler based on Austen’s six novels. Each perfume is paired with a quote from the book it is named after and is “Impeccably packaged in a commanding book cloth covered print.”
The scents are:
- Sense & Sensibility – ‘Sense will always have attractions for me’ – Scented with earl grey, vanilla and lavender.
- Pride & Prejudice – ‘Happiness of marriage is entirely a matter of chance’ – A mysterious blend of exotic, spicy pomegranate, wild bergamot, dewberry, iris, jasmine; followed by spicy notes of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, with base notes of precious woods and cedar.
- Persuasion – ‘What is right to be done cannot be done too soon’ – Frankincense, myrrh, patchouli and warm, powdery sandalwood
- Emma – ‘There is no charm equal to tenderness of heart’ – A delicate tea rose with nuances of green and powder.
- Northanger Abbey – Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothing’ – Tea at the Abbey. Berry sorbet, vanilla and lemon ice infused with Kombucha tea create an addictively refreshing impression with an Asian twist.
- Mansfield Park – ‘There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort’ – Top notes of pear and a hint of raspberry are blended with mid notes of osmanthus, vanilla, cinnamon, and clove, on a base of redwood, cedarwood, sandalwood, and light musk.
Elizabeth Bennet by The Little Book Eater
The notes are white tea, apricot, nutmeg, ginger, and gardenia. The scent is best described as sweet and floral. The Little Book Eater also has a few other scents available in the vein of Austen.
*Prices subject to change
A video production team, Papercuts (the video arm of Read It Forward, which is an imprint of Penguin Random House. Phew.), have a Facebook video series, “Kick-Ass Characters,” where they present a “kick-ass” character from literature in a stop motion video that is two minutes or less.
They also have Lizzie from Pride and Prejudice as seen below. (If the video is not rendering, you can watch it here.) This is not the story of Pride and Prejudice itself, the video is only two minutes long, but highlights of how much a kick-ass character Lizzie is. Enjoy!
According to Willow and Thatch, the Brazillian network Globo is set to broadcast a combination of Jane Austen’s novels (all six novels and Lady Susan) into a single soapy serial, Pride and Passion (Orgulho e Paixã), starting March 20th. The serial will air six episodes a week for a total of 150 episodes. In addition to merging all of Austen’s work into a single telenovela, the time period shifts from the Regency era to early 1900s.
This looks pretty awesome.
For an extensive look at the upcoming telenovela, and to find out more information on how to watch the show outside of Brazil, make sure to head over Willow and Thatch. DO also check out the 8 minute preview below. Don’t forget to make sure you turn English subtitles on which, I will warn you, does a word by word translation so the sentences may not always make sense. While Pride and Passion (Orgulho e Paixão) could qualify as a dramedy, the mistakes in translation make it slightly more hilarious.
I also wanted to mention my discovery of this new (to me) site, Willow and Thatch. I’m always on the lookout not only for blogs that match my interests but well written and consistently updated (it is surprising to me how many do not fit either criterion). A million and a half years ago, I ran a project called Put A Cravat On It, which was a fairly, at the time, extensive listing of period television series. While my project has not been updated since December of 2015, Willow and Thatch seem to pick up where I left off by not only including movies with television series but breaking them down by the period. So if you have a hankering for Regency film or something set in the Tudor era, they have you covered.
(I do have a few small quibbles in that they link directly to Amazon in their movies and I could not find the links for streaming sites though they mention in the intros that some of the shows/movies are available to stream. I can infer the linking to Amazon is to support their site, which yay for them, AND hunting down the links to all the streaming services can be a pain, I get that, I’ve been there, but with a world where we are always streaming content, not having access to those links seem a bit off. My second quibble is they list “best of” rather than making a comprehensive list. Yes, I know, that’s a lot of work but “best of” is always a matter of particular opinion.)
I mentioned on Twitter the other day I am in the process of using a subject tool to come up with relevant topics for the blog and it suggested a complementary set of keywords for “jane austen gifts” is “star wars toys.” Now, I love Star Wars as much as the next person but for a Jane Austen blog? Nah.
But of course, some searching provided delightful results. Here is a montage of Star Wars clips using monologues from Pride and Prejudice. Enjoy.
(P.S. The lip synching doesn’t quite match up but it’s entertaining none the less.)
As promised, here is part II of Crash Course: Pride and Prejudice!
Crash Course is a YouTube channel of short videos, about 10 minutes each, that gives you, well, a crash course of a topic. Run by the brothers John Green (author of The Fault in Our Stars) and Hank Green (co-creator of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries) (and collectively as the Vlog Brothers), Crash Course is intended as a supplementary guide for middle-grade and high school students on a wide variety of topics from math and science to literature and the arts. (The Green brothers found via a recent survey 60-70% of their viewers were not in education or in school.)
Last week, the Green brothers released a Crash Course on Pride and Prejudice in two parts. The first part covering the story, Jane’s biography, and a brief history of the era. Part two will cover more in-depth topics such as the socioeconomics of being young, single, and female in the Regency era. What I really enjoyed about part one is it makes the novel accessible to those unfamiliar with Austen’s work as well as provides the history behind the novel which is often missing in the discussion.
Part one is available below and I’ll post part two once it becomes available!