I have discovered (over the last several years) that life sucks. Ok, that’s melodramatic. Life does not always suck, but with the onslaught of depressing emotional outlets (war, poverty, wide-spread hunger…) on every corner I’ve noticed it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to just kick back and enjoy the ride that we like to call life. So when a opprotunity (for some much-needed comic relief) presents itself in the form of literature I am more than willing to jump on it. Even if it mocks the well-meaning beauty of my favorite book. *Looks to the left and sees Ms. Austen rolling over in her grave.*
There are tons of well-known first sentences out there:
But there is one in particular that flips the light switch on one of the most cherished love stories ever told.
So imagine the chuckle that escaped my treasonist mouth (and then immediate stomach ache for betraying Ms. Austen) when I opened D.M. Andrews P&P spoof “Pied & Prodigious” and read this:
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a man in possession of a wife, must be in want of a good fortune. However, this story is about a man, or rather two men, who are not in possession of a wife, but do own some rather large wardrobes and tall hats.”
I was hooked. I had to keep reading.
“There is much excitement in Longlawn when two men with tall hats enter the district. Mothers buy new dresses for their daughters, fathers polish up on their fencing skills, and Mr Bayonet tackles the perilous journey through the stinging nettles to call upon the new occupants of Nettlefield Park.
The ditsy Jane Bayonet soon falls for Mr Blingley with all his gold jewellery, but her sister, the ever-prodigious Lizzy, very much dislikes Mr Blingley’s friend, Mr Dicey, whose pied coat and tall hat strike fear into the local populace.
This is a story of excessive fashion, high heels, large wardrobes, tall hats – oh, and romance!”
There are a crap ton (God what an awful expression.) of P&P spoofs out there. Pride and Prejudice and Zombie probably being the most famous. But it wasn’t until I read THIS version that I was suddenly aware of how ridiculous my favorite story actually is.
Here is the thing; I don’t mind re-writes of classic literature. I actually enjoy them on a pretty regular basis. But I have a rule when it comes to them.
Under NO CIRCUMSTANCE can the author desecrate the orignal story.
I know what you are thinking… “WHAT THE HELL! HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE?”
Here is how. (I’m going to get a little wiggly here while trying to make a point, so stay with me.)
About two weeks ago I read an article that said (much to my disgust) an author was turning several classic novels (P&P, and Jane Eyre…just to name a few) into erotica. *gasp*
I was floored and ultimately insulted FOR my favorite authors.
Why? Because at the end of the day, this “ploy” is just someone trying to cash in on a literary hiccup that is now a national sensation. (Do I need to explain that further? No. Awesome.)
Here is where I get to my “rule.”
We all know (or at least I would hope all of us know *stares at everyone hoping they are up to date on their classic literature*) that Ms. Austen is all about keeping it buttoned up. She was a rogue in her era, but at the end of the day her stories were clean, complex and proved to the masses that a person can shock and awe without “shocking and awing” (if you catch my drift.)
I don’t mind if someone wants to rewrite a story, as long as the orignal intentions are the same.
This is what I loved about “Pied and Prodigious.” The skeleton of the story was the was exactly how Austen intended it to be, (same scenes, same conversations) but Mr. Andrews chose to focus on the more flamboyant aspects of the story instead of the serious ones.
P&P is 19th century literature that basically dwells on British mating rituals. And because it’s 19th century literature there is a ton of focus on money. (Oh yeah…I’m gonna snag me a rich hubby!!! Go me!!!)
In Andrews version he swaps money with clothes. (Which now means there are roughly 17 million teenage girls that can relate to this story.)
“own some rather large wardrobes and tall hats.”
Ya get me?
Andrews did not “desecrate” Austen’s beloved story (though she may disagree) he made it fun. He didn’t change to way Jane felt about Bingley, (whose name happens to be “Blingley” in the Andrews version – because he loves jewelry) He just flipped it over a little and made it laugh worthy.
He didn’t change Mrs. Bennett’s feelings towards her need to find her girls a husband.
“Oh sir, you are all silliness! Lady Locust has just been here. She has received an update from her social networking group. She came here to gloat at having discovered the information before me, no doubt. Anyways, she told me all about it: a man from north of the Watford Gap has arrived – and with a tall hat, Mr. Bayonet!”
“A tall hat, you say?” Mr. Bayonet mused.
“Yes! Do you not want to know who has taken it?”
Mr. Bayonet looked up from his ledger.
“Someone has taken his hat?”
He pulled out the ridiculous obsession of it.
In short, he took Lizzy and Darcy’s story and exaggerated it. To it’s popping point (if I’m being honest.)
It was fun. It was funny. And it accomplished something that is rarely done these days. It made me laugh out loud.
Does that mean everyone is going to love Andrew’s version of one of the most acclaimed novels of all time? Probably not. It’s going to take someone with a “strong constitution” ( you like that…that was my throwback to 19th century vernacular) and a HUGE sense of humor to take this novel for what it is: a puff piece.
A well written puff piece, but a puff piece all the same.
So here is my final thought. Austen-ites that are easily offended; beware. Those in need of a good laugh. Have at it.
Happy reading my fellow Kindle-ites and remember: It’s ok to make fun of life every once in a while.
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