Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

When I first heard of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I knew I had to read it, despite the fact that my interest in zombies is generally limited. But the zombies were undoubtedly the best part of this book!

The novel is credited to Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith. While Austen’s books have stood the test of time, it is the zombies wandering around 18th century England that make this version a wonderful Monty-Python-esque romp. I couldn’t get enough of the zombies and found myself eager to see how they were next going to ingeniously appear in the story.

The premise is faithful to its original. Elizabeth Bennett is one of five sisters ranging in ages from 15 to 23 all of whom are unmarried, much to the consternation of their mother. But there is a zombie plague affecting England, and their practical father sends the girls to China to study under Master Liu of the Shaolin monks. Elizabeth becomes one of the best warriors in the country and dedicates herself to destroying “Satan’s legion”. But this is not enough to impress the handsome Mr. Darcy, who was trained by the supposedly superior ninjas in Japan, and therein lies part of the great divide between them.

The romance between Elizabeth and Darcy goes through the same ups and downs it always has, but this time with the added danger of their deadly martial arts skills. For example, the first time they see each other, Darcy’s initial dismissal now takes on a much more sinister importance:

“She is tolerable, but not handsome enough to tempt me”…
As Mr. Darcy walked off, Elizabeth felt her blood turn cold. She had never in her life been so insulted. The warrior code demanded she avenge her honour. Elizabeth reached down to her ankle, taking care not to draw attention. There, her hand met the dagger concealed beneath her dress. She meant to follow this proud Mr. Darcy outside and open his throat.
p. 13 -14

While some of the writing is lifted directly from the original novel, Grahame-Seth takes some substantial liberties in his re-telling, one of which is every character, save for Elizabeth, is reduced to a caricature of themselves. Nearly every character has a vomiting scene, (or in the case of Mrs. Bennett, several) which are vividly described. And Grahame-Seth goes for more cheap laughs by playing not too subtly on the word “balls”, which are routinely disrupted by zombies.

Mr. Bingley observed the desserts his poor servants had been attending to at the time of their demise – a delightful array of tarts, exotic fruits, and pies, sadly soiled by blood and brains, and thus unusable.

“I don’t suppose”, said Darcy, “that you would give me the honour of dispensing of this unhappy business alone. I should never forgive myself if your gown were soiled.”
p. 80

Given that Grahame-Smith is a screenwriter by trade, it should be no surprise that there is a movie version coming, and I dare say that even with all the Austen-inspired films it has to compete with, this one should not disappoint!

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