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P&P & Zombies revisted

I was going to write a post about all the things I’m grateful for. It is Thanksgiving after all. But who wants to be a follower?

It’s been a few days since I finished reading (listening to) Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (PP&Z). Time to think about why this was such a fun read.

First of all–what kind of a brain even thinks about putting zombies in Austen’s world? I don’t know, but thank you Seth Grahame-Smith! (See–one thing I’m grateful for. Authors who entertain us–add Jaspar Fforde, Douglas Adams, Susan Elizabeth Phillips and many others to this gratitude list).

When I first heard about PP&Z it sounded like there was the original Pride and Prejudice with Zombies tacked on. When I heard that Elizabeth Bennet was a zombie killer my thought was–yeah, right. Sure. But that’s because I was taking the universe P&P was set in as a given. Change that universe by putting England in a decades long battle with the “strange plague” that slowly turns people into zombies and now we have a different book. (I’ve also heard there is going to be a movie. That sounds like fun as well).

I’m going to try to avoid spoliers here because I’d like you to read this book, then add a comment or e-mail me and tell me what you thought. (Another thing I’m grateful for–friends who enjoy talking about books and movies. Almost more fun than reading or watching is that chatting later).  But here is a taste of how Mr. Grahame-Smith makes this work. Take the basic story–the Bennet family with their five daughters and the problem of an entailed estate. Mrs. Bennet is still obsessed with getting her daughers well-married and we still think she is silly. The reader’s perception of Mrs. Bennet’s silliness/shallowness is amplified because of the horrible situation.

In a world in which the girls might well end up dependent on the goodwill of a relative unless they marry. Where Mrs. Bennet herself might spend her widowhood living in poverty, Mrs. B’s interest in getting the girls married makes a lot of sense. Sure she is silly and obnoxious in the way she goes about it, but her reasoning has some merit.

Now, add zombies and suddenly marriage is not all that important. All of the girls are trained warriors (having spent time in China studying the deadly arts). They are commissioned by the King to protect Hertfordshire until they marry. So their marriage actually takes protection away from the Bennet estate and the surrounding area. Elizabeth is ambivalent about getting married in this world. There is a lot to be said about making her way as a warrior. She won’t have to worry about supporting herself because she is really good with a sword. Killing zombies can be profitable and Elizabeth has enough skill to make her independent if she chooses that life over marriage. Now, all the decisions that are made have higher stakes. And the falling in love is amplified as well.

I think that’s enough for you to get the idea. If you enjoy alternate histories or alternative universes like Jaspar Fforde’s Thursday Next books and if you enjoyed Sean of the Dead, you’ll be thankful for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies too. Or listen to the wonderful audio version read by Katherine Kellgren. (And you can join me in being thankful for this free country we live in–not only freedom of speech and freedom of religion, but freedom from zombies as well).

There’s already a sequel–Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. What’s next? Can you think of another classic romance/monster mash-up. Jane Eyre and Vampires would be waaaay to easy. Northanger Abbey and Trolls?

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