Books

Have you all heard about the Jane Austin zombie book? (It is so much fun to say “Jane Austen zombie book.”) My husband just finished it and agreed to write a review of it for you all. Prepare to have some fun:

My wife and I have developed a shorthand to describe certain kinds of restaurants we encounter: “It’s better than it Jane Austen zombie bookneeded to be.” That’s my hearty endorsement of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” a clever and careful reworking of the classic Jane Austen novel by Simon Grahame-Smith, “with ultraviolent zombie mayhem.” A crafty publisher came up with the concept to marry a great novel in the public domain (no copyright infringement) with a classic horror movie antagonist. Grahame-Smith takes the existing story – and all of its memorable characters, especially headstrong Elizabeth Bennet and the proud Mr. Darcy – and looses a plague of “unmentionables” onto the English countryside. From a writer’s perspective – which is the way I read most books – it’s a dazzling experiment. In lesser hands, it could have been a mess, a one-note parody that would grow tiresome after a few pages. Give a lot of credit to Austen. She wrote such a sturdy tale that it easily bears up under the weight. After all, Elizabeth Bennet is surely the literary ancestor of those strong-willed heroines who survive their cinematic battles with Jason or Freddy or the aliens. Mr. Darcy – and, yes, it’s impossible to avoid picturing Colin Firth wielding a sword as you read along – fits in nicely alongside misunderstood antiheroes like Han Solo. Austen’s story chugs along toward an inevitable happy ending as the zombie corpses pile up. After I was through, I had to go find an online copy of the original, so I could marvel at how Grahame-Smith pulled it off. Of course they’re going to make a movie of this. And of course there will be more literary mash-ups after this one was a best-seller. Sense and Sensibility and Werewolves? Cathy and Heathcliff and Dracula? Little Women and The Robots From Mars? Why not?