'Pride and Prejudice' updates: Enough!

Yesterday, as I was rifling through the mound of galleys that publishers oh-so-kindly sent our way, I came upon a book that made me sigh. No, not Heidi and Spencer Pratt’s How to Be Famous. That book made me scream. Instead, I became immediately fatigued upon finding a copy of The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, by Sara Angelini — a 2007 novel (newly in paperback) that’s billed as Legally Blonde-meets-Pride and Prejudice.

Why, you ask? Because I completely, 100 percent supported the trend of Jane Austen mash-ups — until now. Can you say oversaturation? Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was hysterical, and wholly original. But the novelty has worn thin, with dozens of authors jumping on board to sell their updates of Austen’s work in every genre from romance to mystery to sci-fi. How many more supernatural remixes will we find (see: all those Prejudice-themed vampire books)? How many more chick-lit updates?

Because, really, there are hundreds of other identifiable, classic authors whose work could use an imaginative update. Let’s leave Austen alone for once. Why not desecrate the work of John Steinbeck, Louisa May Alcott, or, hell, even Dante? Tell me, Shelf Lifers, are you as tired of the Prejudice trend as I am? And whose work do you wish contemporary authors would update?

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  • mplanglinais

    I love “Pride and Prejudice” but agree that the market that’s been building on Austen’s shoulders has overstayed its welcome. Try the Bronte sisters or something.

    • renee k

      LOVE the idea of Bronte Sisters…it seems every other book on the sheleves these days are P&P udates.

      • Supannee

        to Anna above, I have really enjyeod what I’ve read of it so far! Must get back to it. Nancy – It’s just a fragment of an early unfinished work. It’s often bound with another couple of her unfinished ones like Sanditon, or Lady Susan but the copy I have it’s on its own in a lovely . I wished it didn’t end so soon but it was a joy to read regardless. Hesperus have a couple more by Austen that I hadn’t heard of before that I’m sure I’ll have to get too.

  • Telly B

    Stephanie Meyer’s classic books could use a new coat of paint. How about a Western version of Twilight? Or a Twilight In Outer Space book? or New Moon On Monday, Twilight set in the Eighties, with Bella being a huge Duran Duran?Culture Club/Thompson Twins fan, while Edward is a Ratt/Quiet Riot/Motley Crue kinda guy, which of course, makes their love forbidden…

    • B

      Did you honestly, without irony, suggest that Twilight is a classic?

      • Telly B

        Read my post again…

      • Connie Dobbs

        Did you honestly, without irony, not see the irony in that post?

    • JM

      LOL :-)

    • CC

      Stephenie Meyer already did. It’s called The Host.

    • Lucy


    • Dawn

      I would read it

  • Aimee

    I agree. It is only happening because they think it will automatically sell. We must quit buying them everyone! I, however, might have to check out an updated Louisa May Alcott.

    • lefty

      Seriously…could you imagine the updated March sisters??

      • Jack

        …but that’s what we’ve seen each time the book has been made into a film – let’s face it, Jo is different each time she’s been interpreted on film – whether by Kathryn Hepburn, June Allyson, or Winona Ryder (and yes, I know there have been other portrayals), the character reflects more the age when the film version was made rather than Louisa May Alcott’s time period. (and yes, I like all the versions for the different things they offer and have to say about thye times they were made!)

  • #

    It is true, these books really need to stop. A certain number of the original ones in this genre were decent, but by-in-large they seem to be a means by which sub-par authors that would never otherwise be published get their foot in the door. Not only are their characterizations off completely, overall, but they also show a complete lack of imagination by simply rehashing the storylines in the original over and over. There are only so many times that the same book can be rewritten.

  • V

    Good stuff Telly B. My only questions is are any of these books good? I’ve started PP&Z, and I intend to read the whole thing, but what about the others? Started Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife too, and have never picked it back up. I agree there can be too much of a good thing, but since you brought it up, what are the ones worth reading? I’m really having a hard time finding books I want to read lately. No gut wrenching Oprah books for me. Any suggestions?

    • steph

      Anything by Christopher Moore. Especially “Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal”…Quite possible THE funniest book I’ve ever read.

    • Lisa Simpson

      What were the last two books that you liked? It’s hard to recommend books based on what you don’t like.

      • V

        I read Outlander by Gabaldon, but the second book has not held my attention. Loved The Hunger Games and Catching Fire. I’m embarrassed to say, but I really like Young Adult books. Maybe it is because that is the time we experience all the great life stuff for the first time. Admitted Twilight, Harry Potter fan too. Tried Dead After Dark, but couldn’t take how apathetic Sookie seemed after every near death experience. Reading the Lightning Thief right now, and it is somewhat enjoyable. Feel like it is a retelling of Harry Potter with Gods instead of Wizards though. I like escapist books that have nothing to do with the 9 to 5 world. Does that help?

      • Lisa Simpson

        Hmm, our reading tastes are very different, so I’ll leave it to others to recommend something. I never cared for YA even when I was in that age demographic, but my friends who read fantasy novels like Terry Brookes and David Eddings. Sorry, I’m not much help.

    • Kayla

      I just finished Johannes Cabal the Necromancer and I really enjoyed it. Not a young adult novel, but it is definitely an escape and has a great dark comedy to it.

      • Lisa Simpson

        Great book (and the second will be coming out this summer).

    • Julia

      Try anything by Avi, Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dolphins, etc.), or Elizabeth George Speare. Also the Redwall series by Brian Jacques. I haven’t yet read the new(ish) Peter Pan series by Dave Barrie but it looks pretty good.

    • Dawn

      If you like YA novels, The Warriors are good books. They are about cats though, so if you don’t like cats, forget it :)
      You may like the Anita Blake books. She is not like Sookie.

    • Hillary

      I love the Hunger Games series too. You could also try the Uglies series by Scott Westerfeld- really hard to put down.

    • jCo

      Have you tried anything by Jasper Fforde?

  • ENC

    Ugh this book looks horrible. I actually just read P&P (original version) for the first time. Is the zombie one worth my time?

    • B

      I just finished P&P&Z and loved it, but P&P is also one of my favorite books of all time.

      • Linda L

        P&P is also one of my favorite books and just finishing up on P&P&Z. Was not sure if I was going to like it but it is clever and witty.

    • Johnification

      Yes on the Zombie one, but no on the imitators.

    • Lala

      P&P&Z is funny and entertaining. I’d recommend it for a good laugh. The only other decent P&P update that I can think of would be Bridget Jones’ Diary.

  • Telly B

    Are those classic books like P& P and The Age Of Innocence and Wuthering Heights on the public domain? Can anyone just take them and remake them so to speak?

    • Lisa Simpson

      Yes, they are in the public domain (rule of thumb: if it’s older than Mickey Mouse, it’s in the public domain).

  • Nic.

    I would LOVE to see a modern spin on Dante!

    • mbr

      Linden Hills by Gloria Naylor is sort of an updated version of Dante’s Inferno. It’s been a while since I ‘ve read it, but I’ve always liked anything by her.

  • KC

    Sorry guys, there is an active and devoted P&P fan fiction community out there, and with the ease of self-publishing these days . . .

    Sara Angelini’s book started out on a Jane Austen fan fiction board too, long before Seth Grahame-Smith got his undead paws on the classic.

    • cerie

      What does the existence of fanfiction and self-publishing have to do with what mainstream publishing does? Zero. I think publishing needs to get a new schtick — and I think the fanficcers should keep right at it. Self-publishing is a non-issue, just like the results are non-books.

      • KC

        The mainstream book being discussed here – The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, by Sara Angelini WAS originally posted on a Jane Austen fanfiction board and then self-published. It has since been picked up by a ‘real’ publisher. It’s happening more and more. So, yes, they have very much to do with each other.

  • steph

    What makes my soul die is a copy of “Wuthering Heights” with an updated cover: big red rose, Twilight-esque font, the phrase “Love Never Dies”
    and the real kicker? These words, CIRCLED: “Bella and Edward’s Favorite Book” OTL

    • Zoey

      I’m right there with you. I literally almost had a fit in Costco when I saw it. Your phrasing is on the nose; part of my soul shriveled right there knowing a classic was being defiled by the evil hands of Twilight, that the only reason teens and others are looking at P&P and WH again is because it has something to do witht Twilight.

    • Lala

      Wow, that’s awful. The two books are not similar at all beyond obsession and a love triangle…and hey, that’s only the first half of WH! Meyer wishes she could have Bronte’s talent. Any tween who reads WH expecting a Twilight rehash is going to be very confused.

      • Emily O.

        At least Twilight seems to be getting kids to read more — particularly classics like P&P or WH, which they may not have picked up otherwise.

  • Lisa Simpson

    Too many of these writers are just mining the same old stories without any original thought behind them. Reimaginings can be great (Joyce took “The Odyssey” and turned it into “Ulysses”, for example), but doing nothing more than stripping Jane Austen’s works down into bad chick lit is a trend that must stop.

  • CC

    I would love to see a reworking of Dicken’s Tale of Two cities or Orczy’s Scarlet Pimpernel. I’d also love to see a redo of Cyrano de Bergerac, with all the wit, class, poignancy, sarcasm, and pain that was missing from Roxanne.

    • Jack

      Did you really think that they were MISSING from Roxanne?! That was part of the fun of the film, for me, was to see how the wit was transformed into a contemporary setting.

  • Rebecca

    I was looking for something to read on Xmas break on my new Kindle. I saw The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy and figured that it would be a light, fun read. However, the book is nothing more than a fan fiction that got published! I have enjoyed P&P updates in the past, Bridget Jones etc…, but this was basically a romance novel (e.g.: lots of sex). It was very disappointing.

  • Candy

    I love them and I hope they write more! Especially the variations and what if stories!

  • Meg

    Although I am a devoted Jane Austen fan, I must say that the fan fiction overload is getting annoying. The original is perfect as the way it is! As for other authors, I would go with Edith Wharton, the Brontes, DEFINITELY Louisa May Alcott, Chekhov, Chandler (would LOVE to see an updated Philip Marlowe), etc…

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