Jane Austen Book Club: Pride and Prejudice

Wednesday, 7 August 2013
Welcome friends to the second installment of The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club! We started in June by reading Jane Austen's first novel, Sense and Sensibility, and will be reading another Jane Austen novel each month until November when we finish with Persuasion.

Thanks to Bonnie Rose, Gina, Holly, and Lindsay for linking up their Sense and Sensibility blog posts last month. I enjoyed reading every single one of them! General consensus of Sense and Sensibility is that while everyone enjoyed the novel, it wasn't anyone's favourite.

For July, we read Jane Austen's second and probably most beloved novel - Pride and Prejudice. Published in 1813, this novel was one of the few that received recognition in Jane Austen's lifetime and continues to be a favourite in modern times. In 2003 when the BBC conducted a poll for the UK's Best-Loved Book, Pride and Prejudice came second, only losing out on the top spot to The Lord of the Rings.

Modern interest in Pride and Prejudice has resulted in a number of adaptations, most notably the 1995 BBC television miniseries starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy and 2005 feature film starring Keira Knightly as Elizabeth Bennet. Besides adaptations, Pride and Prejudice has also inspired other works which borrow characters and/or themes from the story.

When I sat down to write this month's Jane Austen post I decided rather than giving my thoughts on the story, characters, and themes, I would do something I bit different. I decided instead to explore the lasting impact of Pride and Prejudice in the stories it has inspired. There are hundreds, if not thousands, to choose from but these are my top 5 based on popularity or ingenuity.

5. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is a modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice in a series of 2-8 minute videos on YouTube. The story enfolds in vlog (or video blog) told from the perspective of Lizzie Bennet (Ashley Clements) with appearances from most of the main characters.

It makes my list of top Pride and Prejudice-inspired stories because of its brilliant portrayal of a classic story in a modern format. Prior to beginning research for this post, I had not heard of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, but have since watched a couple of episodes and absolutely love it. It's cute and mindless, good for some lunch break viewing!

 4. Lost in Austen

Lost in Austen (Gemma Arterton, Jemima Rooper, Elliot Cowan)
Lost in Austen is the story of Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), a devoted Janeite, who finds herself transported to the world of Pride and Prejudice thanks to a portal in her bathroom. Elizabeth Bennet and Amanda switch lives, and it is up to Amanda to ensure the events of Pride and Prejudice unfold as they should.

Like The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, Lost in Austen takes a classic tale and adds modern insights to it with the added fun of a magical portal in a bathroom that will take you to the world of your favourite book. Could you imagine? My portal would definitely lead me to Wonderland, but I wouldn't mind spending some time lost in Austen!

3. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is a 2009 parody novel that combines Pride and Prejudice with elements of the modern zombie genre as popularised in films such as Shaun of the Dead. The plot is pretty similar to the original, the Bennet family live in a rural English village where their primary concerns are marrying off their five daughters and “defending themselves against wave after wave of the remorseless, relentless walking dead,” says author Seth Grahame-Smith.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

Well Seth Grahame-Smith you have my attention! Who wouldn’t want to read this literary mashup of 19th century manners and zombie horror? I’ve already added this, its sequel (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dreadfully Ever After) and Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters have all been added to my GoodReads want-to-read shelf. Perhaps next year we’ll continue The Quintessentially English Jane Austen Book Club but instead of the traditional Jane Austen, we’ll read the parody novels. Is anyone up for it?

2. Death Comes to Pemberley

Death Comes to Pemberley by P.D. James
Death Comes to Pemberley is a murder mystery novel based on Pride and Prejudice by P.D. James. The story begins six years after the plot of Jane Austen’s original novel. Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are still married and living in Pemberley when, you guessed it, a murder occurs.

I debated between Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Death Comes to Pemberley for the second spot in my list and, as you can see, Death Comes to Pemberley won - the reason being that Death Comes to Pemberley does not simply add to the original plot but is a completely separate story borrowing only the characters. Death Comes to Pemberley has also been added to my alternative Jane Austen Book Club reading list.  

1. Bridget Jones's Diary


Bridget Jones’s Diary is a 2001 film based on Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name and by far the most renowned interpretation of Pride and Prejudice.  Helen Fielding based her novel on Jane Austen’s original story and 1995 adaptation. There are several allusions to the original Pride and Prejudice in Bridget Jones’s Diary; 

  1. The Darcy in both stories comes across as pompous in the beginning and almost loses the girl as a result. 
  2. Mark insults Bridget to his mother within earshot of Bridget. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy insults Elizabeth to Mr. Bingley within earshot of Elizabeth.  
  3. Daniel Cleaver lies to Bridget about a dispute between him and Mark, claiming that Mark stole his fiancĂ©e when, in fact, it was the other way around. In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Wickham attempts to run away with Georgina Darcy and then lies about Mr. Darcy and the whole affair to Elizabeth. 
  4. Bridget works at Pemberley Press, an obvious allusion to Mr. Darcy’s Pemberley. 
  5. In the film Bridget says "It is a truth universally acknowledged that as soon as one part of your life starts looking up, another part falls to pieces." This is homage to the famous opening lines of Pride and Prejudice.

When it came to cast the updated Darcy, Helen Fielding only had one man in her mind – Colin Firth, who played Mr. Darcy in the 1995 adaptation. In fact, one of the screenwriters of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Andrew Davies, also wrote the BBC adaptation.

The Pride and Prejudice veterans in the film and the multiple parallels with the original novel make this the undisputed winner of top Pride and Prejudice inspired works.

Switching gears from Pride and Prejudice, it is now August and we are currently reading Mansfield Park. You can still join in on the fun so go and pick up a copy from your local library or Quintessentially English’s Amazon Associates Store! Be sure to join the #JaneAustenBookClub  conversation on Twitter (@essentialerin) and Facebook!

 Q: What did you think of Pride and Prejudice? Can you think of any other Pride and Prejudice inspired stories that should have made the list?

Erin x


  1. A great twist on the book club this month and hurrah for Bridget Jones coming first!! I can't believe that you would want to be transported to wonderland - that is one place I have always found super scary!!!i love the look of the zombie book, but I really really would like to read 'Death comes to Pemberley', I am intrigued now as I had never heard of it before!

Post a Comment

Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment on my blog! I love receiving them, good and bad, so please don't be shy!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...