Friday, July 16

Pride/Prejudice - Ann Herendeen

Charles always knew he'd one day need to take a wife, but he never dreamed he'd find a woman who would catch first his eye and then his heart, until he met Jane. This distresses Fitz, had never been attracted to a woman, intellectually or sexually, until he met Elizabeth. And Elizabeth enjoys her intimate romps with Charlotte more than anything she could imagine doing with a man, though glimpsing Charles and Fitz together makes her feel curiously faint and flushed.
As the title indicates, Pride/Prejudice is a slashy reworking of Jane Austen's most loved novel, that incorporates much of the original plot, characters, dialogue and events, but adds a new and significant dimension. Taking place before and between the scenes of Austen's novel, Pride/Prejudice seeks to uncover a truth universally ignored - that the two male leads of this most well read of literary classics has a clear but unseen subtext. In Herendeen's reimagining, Charles Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy are enthusiastic lovers, the latter more so than the former, who's ready to move forward into a more adult (ie heterosexual) relationship.
When Lizzie goes to Netherland Park to tend to her incapacitated sister she not only falls out with Darcy but also spies a rigorous tryst between him and her sister's love interest. The scene distresses her, for she loves Jane and wants her to be happy, an outcome Lizzie considers unlikely given Bingley's otherwise directed interest. But Lizzie is also a little captivated by what she sees...
And that's where I left Pride/Prejudice. Perhaps it was just that I read it a little to soon after Phyllida, perhaps I'm just over the obsessive love of Pride & Prejudice, or perhaps I just wasn't in the right head space for it. Whatever the reason, I had the strong sense that, like Phyllida, the action would in all senses focus on the men, that the male relationships would be more complex and rewarding that those with and between the women, and that Lizzie's main role would be to support Mr Darcy doing as he desired while she was content with the scraps of their relationship. I may well have been wrong - that, after all, is the down side to halting only part way through a book. But I'm not unhappy with my decision. - Alex

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