Friday Bookblogging: Janeites Doin' It For Themselves Edition

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We’re kicking off a new feature at AustenBlog today: Friday Bookblogging, in which we hope to concentrate on new and notable books of interest to Janeites, blogging about Jane Austen’s novels, and other literary endeavors related to Jane Austen.

We’re still thrilled with our copy of Gothic Classics Volume 14, which includes a graphic novel treatment of Northanger Abbey as well as The Mysteries of Udolpho. We don’t have much to add to Heather L.’s excellent review, other than to assure our Gentle Readers that it is as delightful as we had hoped. As Catherine herself might have said, ”Oh, Mr. Tilney, how frightful! This is just like a movie! Well, what then?”

Moving on to non-graphical novels, Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter, one of the plethora of Time-Traveling Modern Chick ISO Mr. Darcy hitting the beaches this summer. We have not read this book yet, but a couple of litbloggers have shared their opinions. Jemima was a trifle put off by it.

Originally, when I heard the title to this new book by Alexandra Potter, I had a thought – Why isn’t it called ‘Mr.Darcy and I’? That’s more musical, I thought, and more polite. One doesn’t say, “Me and Darcy are going for a walk.” One says,”Darcy and I are going for a walk,” both for grammar reasons and for those of politeness. But I didn’t realize that the title was the least impolite thing about this book.

Ouch!

Jane Austen brings to mind thoughts of elegance and good taste. And one would expect a novel which derives its story, its very existence, from the writings of Austen to have in its language, in its tone, a reflection of that elegance and good taste. Not here.

Vulgarity is on practically every page. It comes in the form of lewd references and swears, and the very un-Austen-like personality of the protagonist Emily Albright, whom the reader is meant at some moments to believe is prim and proper. For the rest of the novel she’s got the mind, if not the mouth, of the proverbial sailor….Okay, that’s harsh – but it was very discordant with the idea of Austen.

The Jane Austen fandom is a pretty big tent, and the Pottymouthed Young Persons even have a corner; but Jemima understands that while Jane Austen’s novels have universal appeal, some modern takes on her novels do not. Nonetheless, she thinks the novel has a certain interest.

Ranting aside, there was, as I said before, an engaging side to ‘Me and Mr. Darcy.’ And this despite its meager 4 points perhaps, just perhaps, makes it a book worthy of reading. There is an enchanting end to one of the storylines which is charming. In the interest of not spoiling the ending for those who want to read the novel, I will not give away the ending.

In the middle of the book the protagonist Albright has a couple of occasions on which she describes certain foods as disgusting but delicious. Originally, it was a hard idea to get my mind around. But, now, I see….the same could sort of be said about this novel.

Jane of Dear Author sends a billet to the authoress.

If the reader is in the mood for a revisit to Pemberly with new characters and appearances from Darcy, this is the right book. Its very readable but simply too close to the original to make me enjoy it. It’s hard to retell a classic without bringing something new and fresh and not be compared, unfavorably, to a master. C

And if you’re curious but don’t want to spend the money, Harriet Klausner gives away the ending on Amazon, as is her custom. (Not that anyone familiar with P&P wouldn’t have guessed it anyway.)

There certainly are a lot of Janeites who can’t stay away from Pemberley…and some of them have self-published their adventures there. Like Me and Mr. Darcy, Abigail Reynolds’ Pemberley by the Sea puts the story in modern times.

Marine biologist Cassie Boulton likes her coffee with cream and her literature with happy endings. Her favorite book is Pride & Prejudice, but Cassie has no patience when a modern-day Mr. Darcy appears in her lab. Silent and aloof, Calder Westing III doesn’t seem to offer anything but a famous family name. But there is more to Calder than meets the eye, and he can’t get enough of Cassie Boulton. Especially after one passionate night by the sea. But Cassie keeps her distance. Behind the veneer of scientific accomplishment, wit, and warmth, she is determined to hide secrets from her past. That means avoiding men who want to get too close, especially tempting and dangerous ones like Calder. Frustrated by Cassie’s evasions, Calder tells her about his feelings the only way she’ll let him – by rewriting her favorite book, with the two of them in the roles of Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. But only Cassie can decide whether to risk her future by telling him the dangerous truth.

Sharon Lathan’s novel, Two Shall Become One, puts a slightly new twist on Austen fan fiction–it’s inspired by the 2005 film. Originally posted to her Web site, she has published the first chapters of the continuing “Darcy Saga” in hard copy, expanded and rewritten. It seems to be the P&P05 fans’ answer to Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife, giving readers a glimpse of the newlyweds’ married life, including the very private moments.

And now for something completely different…literary giants crash in Jane Austen’s Helter Skelter.

Chapter I — The events must be universally acknowledged. A young man has taken Spahn Ranch.

Chapter II — Sharon Tate’s neighbors surprise the L.A.P.D. by making a call.

Hee.