Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice is one of the most beloved novels in the English language. So much so that it has been rewritten, riffed on, and reimagined hundreds of times. If you are not familiar with the story, the five Bennett daughters, with much prompting (one might say, hectoring) from their mother, are looking for husbands to improve the diminished family fortunes. The story primarily deals with Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, a standoffish type, who misunderstand each other but are united in the end. This blog post deals with retellings of this acclaimed novel set in the present day.
The latest version of Pride and Prejudice is Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal. Set in Pakistan, it manages Austen's trick of providing scathing social commentary that will make you laugh out loud. Alysba Binat and her sisters confound traditional mores to hilarious effect (and in some great t-shirts) and Austenites will find some metaliterary discussions to chew on. Darsee is definitely swoon-worthy, and even those familiar with the plot will be engaged.
Soon-to-be-released Ayesha At Last by Uzma Jalaludin takes place in the Muslim community in Toronto. Traditional Khalid is disdainful of outspoken Ayesha, and the feeling is mutual. Too bad he can't get her out of his head and that they keep running into each other. It's going to take a wrestling life coach, a villain more scandalous than Wickham, and multiple applications of Timmy Ho's to get the two together where they belong.
Sonali Dev's Pride, Prejudice, and Other Flavors is loosely based on Austen's novel, and also bends genders. Trisha Raje is a neurosurgeon well aware of her own gifts and the shortcomings of chef DJ Caine, who she refers to as "the hired help" within his earshot. They have his sister, Emma, in common as she is Trisha's patient and refusing treatment. The two have to work together to get Emma to change her mind and well, this is a romance, so you can guess how that will turn out. Wonderful descriptions of cooking and tasting make this one stand out.
The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy by Sara Angelini is a sexy retelling of Austen's tale, this time in the world of law. Darcy is a judge, so that makes it a violation of professional ethics to continue the affair with trial lawyer Elizabeth Bennett that begins at Drs. Bingley's and Bennett's country house. Much of Austen's themes of family and mutual respect are preserved, despite the modern setting and sheet-rumpling.
Finally, who says romance is only for the young? Not Paula Marantz Cohen in Jane Austen in Boca. Just imagine if the Bennett sisters were elderly Jewish friends in Florida and Mr. Darcy was a retired English professor. The plot goes much like you expect, except that instead of a meddling mother, it's a busybody daughter, but one of the particular joys of this book is the detailed examination of the social milieu of Boca Raton. Miss Austen would approve.
What is your favorite retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Tell us in the comments.