As voracious a reader as I am, I don’t often re-read books because I’m always onto the next thing. This has changed mostly since I’ve gotten busier (and older); I don’t have the luxury of revisiting my favorites the way I used to when I was a kid. Hanging out with those books was like hanging out with old friends- they brought me joy and were always a constant, even during the moments when my life was changing very rapidly around me.
In that sense, picking my favorite book is kind of like picking my favorite friend. If I had to choose one, though, it would be Pride and Prejudice. It’s certainly one of my oldest friends- I first read it when I was a whopping eleven years of age. I loved it so much that it was enough to turn me into a full-fledged Austenite. I read all of her books, and then I read P&P again. I’ve read it three more times since then, making it the book I have re-read those most out of all of the ones I have read.
You may think my choice is cliché, or that Austen herself is, but I hate to break it to you- she’s pretty unavoidable. P&P (as well as all of her other work) has been re-published, re-packaged and re-purposed hundreds of times over. Her writing is cliché because she’s the one who wrote it to begin with.
Here are some recent examples: ever heard of Bridget Jones’s Diary? Author Helen Fielding didn’t even bother to disguise the allegory and kept the name Mr. Darcy for one of the main characters in her popular series. And Curtis Sittenfeld’s latest, Eligible, is openly marketed as a modern day re-telling of the classic novel.
Seth Grahame-Smith actually cut and pasted from the actual text of P&P to create his own horror story, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, featuring the Bennett sisters as a troupe of corset-wearing, weapon-slinging zombie hunters trying to balance romance and saving the world. You know, the usual girl stuff. I got kind of a kick out of watching the female characters kick some serious zombie butt, but some of the original storyline gets lost in translation- for example, Elizabeth Bennett’s social status (or lack thereof) hardly seems to be an issue because she’s such a badass- but it was still a lot of fun to read. Apparently others thought so as well- the book’s rise to fame brought a slew of other copycat titles along with it, including another adaptation of Austen’s work, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters.
If your weapons of choice are more of whip and handcuff variety, you might enjoy Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, author Linda Berdoll’s erotic envisioning of what happens after the original Pride and Prejudice ends. He’s not Christian Grey, exactly, but this version of Mr. Darcy seems a lot less uptight than Austen’s version and Elizabeth Bennett is a lot more…shall we say submissive? Drama, babies, battles, heaving bosoms- this version has it all, and is perfect for die-hard romance fans.
More recently, I picked up a copy of Longbourn by Jo Baker, a re-telling of Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of the servants who scurry the halls of the Bennett family house.
Psst- wanna see which books have previously graced my bookshelves? Click here. Want even more fun reading recommendations? I’ve got some for you here. Don’t forget to find me on Goodreads so we can snoop each other’s bookshelves and dish about our favourites.