Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Review)

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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith, 2009
320 pp.

Book Review by Molly Lundquist
March, 2012

Take two current crazes—our fetish for Everything-Jane and killer zombies—mash them together, and you get one of the absolute funniest send-ups ever.

Grahame-Smith channels a wonderful Jane Austen, who has written a good a quarter of his book. He uses her text, verbatim in places, then interjects his own text on zombies and the martial arts—the very practice in which Elizabeth Bennet, everyone's favorite literary heroine, excels.

All the Bennet girls, we learn, are proficient in the deadly arts. Their father has sent them to China to learn Shaolin combat—a necessary precaution these days, what with bands of zombies marauding across the countryside. Zombies are everywhere—they appear out of nowhere and attack anyone in their path.

How Grahame-Smith must have amused himself in writing this burlesque. The fun to be had is in seeing how he takes Our Dear Jane's precise words and bends them to his own end...with hilarious effect.

Take the assembly where Darcy utters his infamous put down of Elizabeth—"she is tolerable but not handome enough to tempt me." Here, Grahame-Smith presents us not with the archly composed Elizabeth of Austen's book, but with an aggrieved warrior woman. In his retelling, Jane grabs a dagger strapped to her ankle with the intent of following Darcy outside to "open his throat."

But Darcy's insult is immediately forgotten as zombies crash through the windows of the assembly hall. Mr. Bennet orders his daughters to array themselves in the Pentagon of Death. In all their finery, the Bennet girls stave off the invasion, and things settle back down fairly quickly. Indeed, "apart from the attack, the evening altogether passed off pleasantly for the whole family."

All our favorites, Lady Catherine and Mr. Collins, come in for a remake. Even Mrs. Gardiner, Elizabeth's elegant aunt, turns out to have an eye (a lusty one, at that) for the male form. How pleasing Darcy is! she exclaims to Elizabeth after that fateful visit to Pemberley. "And there is something of dignity in the way his trousers cling to those most English parts of him."

You might want to re-read the original to refresh your memory of Austen's bristling wit. Then pick up Zombies, and get ready for a delightful romp. If you're in a book club, you'll have fun comparing the two, paragraph by paragraph.

See our Reading Guide for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


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