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Flirting With Pride And Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives On The Original Chick Lit Masterpiece (Smart Pop series) Paperback – August 11, 2005
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*Starred Review* Although Jane Austen is often acknowledged as the godmother of the Regency romance (of course, she was writing contemporary love stories at the time), the contributors to this collection intend to prove that Austen's much-loved novels, and specifically her masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, provide the prototype for today's chick-lit fiction. After romance superstar Crusie presents a crisp and witty introduction distilling the essence of Austen's appeal, an eclectic mix of popular romance authors explore a variety of topics, including Austen's social commentary, the role of history in her novels, and the adaptation of her books into film. Beth Kendrick considers how much today's woman has in common with Austen's heroines in her deliciously clever "Does This Petticoat Make Me Look Fat?" Jo Beverley's "Gold Diggers of 1813" is a discussion of why marrying for wealth mattered so much during the Regency era. Teresa Medeiros takes a fun and flirty look at the appeal of one of Austen's most famous heroes in "My Darling Mr. Darcy." Each contribution to this smart and entertaining collection is a pure delight, adding up to an unusually enjoyable work of literary criticism. John Charles
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Top Customer Reviews
Only two of the essays were really thought-provoking: Lauren Baratz-Logsted's essay on Austen's heirs in chick-lit and Karen Joy Fowler's discussion of Austen's modern audience. However, I also enjoyed Jo Beverly's interesting exploration of women's economic prospects in Austen's period, which brought Elizabeth Bennet's budget into modern terms.
Lawrence Watt-Evans' essay on war in Austen (or the absence of war in Austen) was very thorough if somewhat out-of-place.
Aside from these stand-outs, the other essays are, for the most part, musings on Austen's relevance to the authors' personal lives -- light, amusing fare. Some of them are rewritings or sequels of part of Austen's own work, and I can't evaluate these: I found them tiresome, but perhaps that's just because they weren't what I wanted from the book.
All of which said, Jo Beverley's "Gold Diggers of 1813" is first-rate work--a neat summary for beginners of the dilemma of an Austen heroine. It deserves to be reprinted in better company. Until it is, this one will stay on the shelves.
What is missing is Jennifer Crusie's input. I was looking forward to reading what this intelligent and quirky writer has to say about one of my favorite novels--and all she contributed was a brief introduction describing how busy she is and how honored she is to have been selected for the project.
I don't know when I've enjoyed a collection of essays so much. A few of the writers I've read elsewhere, but many are new to me. Not all of the twenty-five perspectives offered will appeal equally, but all are well-written, informative, and amusing. And they'll all send you back to the original, thinking.