Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Death Comes to Pemberley

If you know anything about me, you probably already know that I detest so-called "fan fiction" in almost any of its many forms.  There is a lot of fanfic out there, and most of it is bad.  Really bad.  Really, really bad. I also consider these "sequels" to classic literature to be fanfic of a kind.  I take my Victorian literature rather seriously, to a point.  I think I also have a lingering, if somewhat irrational fear, that the (probably legitimate) fanfic-sequel will taint or ruin my memories and knowledge of the original, similar to when your memory starts to conflate both the book and the film version of a thing.  That, of course, only applies to these "somewhat legitimate" published versions.  The rest of the fanfic I don't touch because bad writing hurts my soul.  (And do not get me started on the abomination that is anything Seth Grahame-Smith has ever touched!)

It is with such trepidation that I slowly approached Death Comes to Pemberley by J.D. James.  I only heard of it because they're making it into a film featuring Jenna Coleman of Doctor Who fame.  I did a little bit of research, and what can I say?  I'm more apt to believe an older woman with a professed "lifelong passion for Austen" than I am some twenty-something "ironic" hipster who claims he "took an English class once."

I've only read the "Prologue" so far, and I just have two words:

Thank you.

Thank you, P.D. James.  She has effectively captured some of the Victorian style and syntax while also retaining that spark of Austen's wit and (actual) ironic touch without being outright sarcastic or mean.  I actually chuckled out loud a couple of passages today whilst reading over lunch, like this one:
"Elizabeth had never been popular, indeed the more perceptive of the Meryton ladies occasionally suspected that Miss Lizzy was privately laughing at them.  They also accused her of being sardonic, and although there was uncertainty about the meaning of the word, they knew that it was not a desirable quality in a woman, being one which gentlemen particularly disliked" (9).
So we're off to a rousing start!  My expectations for the rest of the book have been raised from previously.  Let's just hope they don't fuck up the movie.

P.S.  Coleman recently took a break from filming to sign some autographs (in costume!!).

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