Pride and Prejudice and So Many Retellings

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single book in possession of a huge fanbase must be in want of a whole lot of retellings.

Recently, I finished reading Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev; a modern retelling of the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen and it got me thinking about one thing; sheesh there’s a lot of retellings of Pride and Prejudice out there.

So I did a little bit of research to unmask a whole lot of P&P retellings spanning across cultures, across countries, and across timelines. There’s books, movies, TV shows, YouTube series, etc. Jane Austen is constantly quoted, constantly a figure of the literary world, and unafraid to shut down a marriage proposal with a paragraph long speech about how much the guy sucks. If Jane Austen was alive today, she would probably be as rich as the Queen. She probably will go all JK Rowling and build herself a Pemberley the likes that Mr. Darcy couldn’t even afford.

And with each retelling, no one is going straight verbatim of the book. Each book I’ve read has themes and parts that relate back to the original story. Mainly they relate back to the Elizabeth/Darcy/Wickham weird love triangle that didn’t happen. The prejudice always plays a huge role and I’m pretty sure Jane Austen invented the enemies-to-lovers trope.

But I did want to highlight a few that I came across in my readings and on my shelves. I haven’t read these all, but I plan on it in the future. Here’s some notable Pride and Prejudice retellings for fans who love the original.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

This particular story isn’t a retelling. In fact, it’s literally Pride and Prejudice with the added bonus of zombies. When this book first came out, everyone was screaming because it was their favorite story with some little additions. I think a lot of people loved this novel because it’s clever. Pride and Prejudice isn’t the most fun book to read with a lot of words I’m pretty sure the English language has forgotten, but the added bonus of zombies gives this book a little kick in the pants for the newer generations.

Pride by Ibi Zoboi

This is Afro-Latinx version of Pride and Prejudice when the young and rich Darcy family moves in across the street from Zuri in her rapidly gentrifying Brooklyn neighborhood. The story is very close to Jane Austen’s story, but with diversity. I love diverse stories and I love when folks can take a story like Pride and Prejudice and relate it back to their own world. I’m also a sucker for stories that take place in Brooklyn since I lived there for eight years of my life.

I haven’t read this one yet, but I totally plan to. The modernity and diversity in this book is definitely what I love and I can just imagine the level of prejudice Zuri has for the Darcys even before meeting them just knowing that they come from money. I can most definitely relate to that.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding

While Bridget Jones may be obsessed with the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice, I don’t know if she knows she’s living in her own version of the book. The story follows Bridget Jones, a woman who is on the verge of finding herself. It’s a new year and she’s vowed to keep track of her life; less cigarettes and booze, more gym time and making meaningful friendships. But what Bridget Jones also wants is a stable relationship with a steady man. Of course that’s when she meets two men, her Darcy and Wickham, both with the potential as her future boyfriend. But when she finds out what happened to her Wickham and Darcy in the past, she most definitely makes the decision on who will be the right man for her.

I’ve read this one before and despite all the great reviews, it wasn’t a well-written story. I thought it was weird that her weight was also only 130 pounds and that’s not overweight, girl. That’s normal! But I absolutely loved this movie and think about how clever that they casted two actors that Bridget Jones literally mentions in the book (Colin Firth and Hugh Grant). It’s a laugh-out-loud story with a woman who’s scarily self-aware and just trying to live her life.

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

The most ultra modern version of Pride and Prejudice. This story follows Liz, a mid-30s magazine writer, and her family (the whole Bennett gang is represented here). They meet Chip Bingley, a wealthy doctor and recent bachelor of a famous reality dating series similar to The Bachelor. While Chip has an immediate liking to Liz’s 40-year-old sister, Jane, it’s Fitzwilliam Darcy who swoops in to tell them otherwise. This series sticks much closer to the original Pride and Prejudice story with all its supporting cast and disasters playing out.

However, after reading this one I was a little disappointed. I thought that the situations they were in were a little unrealistic and didn’t really buy the conflict. Perhaps it’s because the adaptation was too literal and not using the themes of the story to their full potential.

Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin

It wasn’t until recently that I heard Ayesha at Last is an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice. While I haven’t read this one yet, I do have a copy on my shelf and plan to make it a priority! A young Muslim-Canadian woman named Ayesha who’s focused on paying off her debts to her uncle as a poet and writer. She meets Khalid, a young conservative, and for all intents and purposes,  you assume this is Darcy. But when he turns out to be engaged to Ayesha’s younger cousin, she starts to look into Khalid and his family secrets.

While I haven’t read this one yet, it’s high on my list of reads. It sounds like Darcy’s character is a mix of Wickham and Darcy, which makes for an interesting idea. I can see a lot of that enemies-to-lovers trope in this and I think the prejudice themes are also present here. An interesting take on the story that isn’t straight up Jane Austen.

Pride and Prejudice and Other Flavors by Sonali Dev

This is the book I recently read and really ended up enjoying. It isn’t the most prolific piece of writing and there’s a few issues I had with her style, but the story here about Trisha, her family, and DJ will definitely keep you reading. It’s not a direct retelling with a gender swap on Darcy and Elizabeth and changes to the characters, you still get the sense that Pride and Prejudice is the inspiration for this story. When Julia Wickham shows up, that’s when this story really turns into a Pride and Prejudice retelling.

I loved the usage of themes here. It’s got the prejudice themes. It has some resemblances of the triangle between Wickham, Darcy, and Elizabeth, but the way it’s played out is much different than what Jane Austen did. I really liked this story because it took the elements of Pride and Prejudice and really spun it. It almost makes you question if there is a Pride and Prejudice theme within the story!

Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Similarly to Eligible, this is an almost straight retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan where the Binat family has lost a lot of face within their community. Alys is a young English teacher sharing with her students the stories of Jane Austen she’s come to love, but when she and her family are invited to the biggest wedding of the season, the story launches right into the perfect retelling of Pride and Prejudice. There’s a Bingley, Jane, a Mrs Bennett trying to marry off her daughters, and a Darcy. There’s prejudice themes, class themes, and others. I haven’t read this one, but it’s also one I’m very interested in.

What kinds of Pride and Prejudice retellings are you into? Is there any I missed on this list that you would recommend?

*Please note that this isn’t an extensive list and I carefully chose my options here. There are plenty more retellings and you can actually find the list on Goodreads.

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