I first met Jane Austen when I was a freshman in high school. Pride and Prejudice was on the list of assigned reading for the course and I started the story, only to find myself bored through the first chapter. There were too many characters and the language bothered me to the point of annoyance… I had read and loved Shakespeare but this was a different beast entirely.
I stopped reading a few weeks into the class but was sure to take meticulous notes on the lectures, in case there was an exam. And then one day, with excited hands and bright eyes, my teacher described the country ball, where Elizabeth Bennet first met the likes of one very smug Fitzwilliam Darcy. She recited dialogue, acted out the scene, and lit a fire of interest that I have yet to quench.
I fell in love with Jane Austen that year. Her ability to read through people, to understand their nuances and capture them so vividly fascinated me. I couldn’t understand how she turned human flaws into I went on to read Sense and Sensibility and then promptly bought the 1995 version, starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, and Hugh Grant.
Since then, Jane Austen seems to have exploded into pop culture. The new adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, starring Keira Knightley, was a visual masterpiece and though Knightley’s Lizzie was a bit too modern for my taste, their version of Darcy was just the right mix of shy, arrogant, awkward, and wonderful. Becoming Jane (though completely historically inaccurate) had its pulse in the heart of Austen’s novels. The Jane Austen Book Club, much more adult in nature than the novels themselves, touched on the fact that there is a Lizzie, an Emma, an Elinor, in all of us.
And of course the brilliant BBC adaptations of Persuasion and Mansfield Park (which starred Billie Piper *mini Doctor Who squee*) got me hooked all over again. BBC is where it’s at, people. They’re 2006 Jane Eyre was brilliant!
Now, Austen is back in the spotlight, but not in the way you would think. The paranormal craze has touched everything, even our beloved Jane.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith
(from B&N.com) ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.’ So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edition of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. This deluxe heirloom edition includes a new preface by coauthor Seth Grahame-Smith, thirteen oil-painting illustrations by Roberto Parada, and a fascinating afterword by Dr. Allen Grove of Alfred University. Best of all, this limited special edition features an incredible 30 percent more zombies—via even more all-new scenes of carnage, corpse slaying, and cannibalism. Complete with a satin ribbon marker and a leatherette binding designed to endure for generations, this hardcover volume honors a masterpiece of classic zombie literature.
Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Austen and Ben H Winters
(from B&N.com) Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters expands the original text of the beloved Jane Austen novel with all-new scenes of giant lobsters, rampaging octopi, two-headed sea serpents, and other biological monstrosities.
As our story opens, the Dashwood sisters are evicted from their childhood home and sent to live on a mysterious island full of savage creatures and dark secrets. While sensible Elinor falls in love with Edward Ferrars, her romantic sister Marianne is courted by both the handsome Willoughby and the hideous man-monster Colonel Brandon.
Can the Dashwood sisters triumph over meddlesome matriarchs and unscrupulous rogues to find true love? Or will they fall prey to the tentacles that are forever snapping at their heels? It’s survival of the fittest and only the swiftest swimmers will find true love!
I’ll admit, I never in a million years thought that kind of combination would work. Weird, huh? Classic fiction meets horror. I’m dreadfully curious. Any of you read these yet?