Category Archives: Pride and Prejudice

Vanity and Vexation – Kate Fenton

Years ago I read a novel by Fenton called Lions and Liquorice and loved it. So I snapped this one up when I saw it in the Borders closing down sale. Be warned: it’s the same novel renamed for the US market. Not to worry, I didn’t own a copy and I enjoyed reading this again.

Here’s the blurb …

A clever and cunning modern day retelling of the adored Jane Austen novel

“Tall, dark, and arrogantly handsome—not to mention distinguished, powerful, and rolling in money. Mr. Darcy? No, that’s just the woman director of Pride and Prejudice,” reports Nicholas Llewellyn Bevan, impoverished novelist and occasional (reluctant) journalist, when a TV production company trundles into his sleepy North Yorkshire valley. Amusedly he watches these glamorous invaders combine the filming of Jane Austen’s romantic classic with the much less modest pursuit, off-camera, of real-life romances with the locals.

Under his very nose, his bashful handsome neighbor John is plucked out of a village dance by the famously gorgeous (and wealthy) leading actress, Candia Bingham, with whom he at once falls completely in love. Our would-be hero manages only to trip over the black-booted foot of the intimidating and imperious director, Mary Dance. So he’s amazed—and a little bit alarmed—when her steely eye seems to be straying his way.

A witty and entertaining update on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Austen fans old and new will adore Vanity and Vexation’s modern take on her sublime blueprint of the romance game complete with sex, money, and power. With an assured and respectful hand, in the context of the contemporary world, Kate Fenton has penned a riveting story with a hilarious twist.

After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that Hollywood taking an interest—better still an option—in a novelist’s work is a surefire way to propel that novelist into serious sales figures and the bestseller lists.

If you are a Pride and Prejudice  fan, then you will enjoy this modern, gender swapping version. Mr Darcy is Mary Hamilton (or Mary Dance) a successful film director and Elizabeth Bennet is Llew Bevan an aspiring novelist. This novel contains another novel where Llew (or Nick as he is known in real life) is writing a modern gender swapping version of Pride and Prejudice – confused yet? It will make sense when you read it. All of the major events of Pride and Prejudice are replicated, for example, the Lydia character (Nick’s son Chris) is rescued from Bangkok by Mary Hamilton (and her father’s private jet).

It is cleverly done and a light, entertaining read.

The story is a bit dated – quite a bit of time is spent using pay phones, finding pay phones and running out of coins for pay phones! It is a shame it didn’t get updated for it’s re-release, although whole climax might not work if everyone had a mobile phone.

This is one of my favourite Pride and Prejudice re-workings.

More reviews …

There is a whole page of reviews at



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Death Comes to Pemberly – P.D James

Look P D James is writing a mystery set at Pemberley – more information here. You can pre-order it from

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Lost in Austen – Episode 4

Episode 4 – the final episode.

In this episode Mr Darcy announces his engagement to Caroline Bingley (because she is ‘a maid’), Mrs Bennet receives a letter from Lydia informing her that she has gone off with Mr Bingley. Mrs Bennet believes they are to be married (Amanda and Jane let her think this until she reaches home) and returns to Longbourn. The Bennets and Amanda then travel to Hammersmith to find Bingley and Lydia (Wickham is already there and he helps them find Lydia). Darcy also arrives and tries to convince everyone that Lydia and Bingley have not spend the night together. Mr Bennet challenges Bingley to a dual (even though nothing has happened) in the process he cracks his head and starts copiously bleeding. Amanda bursts out of the room and finds herself in modern London (her need for Elizabeth is so great she created a portal). Her boyfriend drives her to Elizabeth (who is working as a nanny) on the way Amanda notices that Darcy has also come through the door (because he loves her). Together they catch a bus to Elizabeth. Amanda convinces Elizabeth to return to Longbourn. They all return to Amanda’s flat and through the ‘shower door’ back to Longbourn. Meanwhile, Wickham has found a nurse to stitch Mr Bennet’s head and they have also returned to Longbourn. Mr Bennet and Elizabeth are re-united. Lady Catherine arrives at Longbourn and agrees to have Jane’s marriage to Mr Collins annulled (it hasn’t been consummated) if Amanda agrees to disappear and never return. Elizabeth agrees to try to like Mr Darcy and Amanda plans to return home. At the door that leads back to he bathroom she finds a note from Darcy telling her that he remembers his experience in modern day London (i.e. that it’s not a dream) and she races of to Pemberley to be with him and Elizabeth returns to modern London.

There are some great bits in this episode …

Amanda Price: Hear that sound, George? Duh-uh-uh-uh! That’s Jane Austen spinning in her grave like a cat in a tumble-dryer.


Mr Bingley: Miss Lydia and I came yesterday and have spent our hours philosophizing. Although her father would have it, we’ve been making the beast with two backs.
Mr. Bennet:  Time to take the weapons from the wall, Mr. Bingley! Pick up your damn spear and take guard!


Amanda Price: Wickham. You are a bastard, but you are the right bastard at the right time.
Mr. Wickham:  One does one’s best.


Michael: What do you mean Darcy? Darcy’s some ponce in a book! Some todger-twitching nancy boy!
Mr. Darcy: What is this curious peron? Is it some sort of village idiot… or a clown?


Amanda: The rest of us are gonna say goodbye nicely and watch you step through all that plumbing into fictional Georgian England and that’ll be it. And then we’ll all spend the rest of our lives in therapy. It’s going to be fine.

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Lost in Austen – Episode 3

In Episode 3 Amanda is forced to leave Longbourn and she turns to Mr Wickham for help; he prepares her for society (essentially teaching her how to bluff her way) and tells her to visit Jane Collins. At Rosings she is reunited with Mr Darcy and they argue about Bingley’s and Jane’s unhappiness. Meanwhile Mrs Bennet leaves Longbourn to visit Jane taking Lydia with her. Darcy invites Amanda to visit Pemberley, which Mrs Bennet overhears and thinks was meant for her, thus Amanda, Lydia, Mrs Bennet, Jane and Mr Collins all travel to Pemberley. At Pemberley we meet Georgiana (who turns out to be a bit of a minx) and we see Mr Wickham in a whole new light. Bingley has taken to drinking and Jane tells him it is his moral duty to be happy for both of them. Darcy and Amanda fall in love but because of Caroline’s meddling he discovers that she is ‘not a maid’ and so, of course, cannot marry her. Amanda rips the pages out of her copy of Pride and Prejudice and flings it away. Darcy finds it and can’t believe her perfidy (to use their names in a novel!).

There is a fabulous scene in this episode where Mr Darcy re-enacts the famous Colin Firth diving into the lake scene.

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Lost in Austen – Episode 2

In the second episode Amanda tells Mr Bingley she is a lesbian (to avoid his advances). She entertains Mr Darcy, Mr Bingley and Miss Bingley with a rendition of Downtown – unfortunately this is edited from the DVD – you can find it at Youtube.

Returning to Netherfield they encounter Wickham when their carriage breaks down and he comes to their rescue. Mr Collins visits Longbourn, Amanda tells Miss Bingley that she has ‘£27 000’ a year, she becomes engaged to Mr Collins (to stop Jane from marrying him), Mr Wickham tells everyone she is the daughter of a fishmonger, Mr Collins breaks of the engagement, she ‘assaults’ him and Jane marries Mr Collins. It is all going horribly wrong.

Some great moments …

Amanda telling Mr Bingley she is a lesbian

Mr Bingley: I am drawn to you! I am a man.

Amanda: And I am a woman! And I am drawn … to other women.

Mr Bingley: You mean there really are ladies who… steer the punt from the Cambridge end?

After Amanda sings Downtown

Mr Bingley: Brava, Miss Price! And whenever life is gettin’ me down, I shall be sure to go ‘downtown’. Eh, Darcy?

Mr Darcy: With alacrity

I think it’s extremely clever the way the plot is spiraling out of control.

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Filed under Adaptations, Pride and Prejudice, Re-Interpretation

Lost in Austen

I think this (very loose) adaptation of Pride and Prejudice is fabulous; witty, clever, lovely to look at and well cast.

In Episode 1 Amanda Price (Jemima Rooper), a keen Janeite, finds Elizabeth Bennet in her bathroom (in Hammersmith).

She passes through the secret door in the bathroom and finds herself trapped in Longbourn. She then tries to ensure that the novel progresses as it should.

Mr Bingley (Tom Mison) visits Longbourn and admires Amanda more than Jane (Morven Christie). At the Meryton Assembly Amanda claims to be engaged by Mr Darcy (Elliot Cowan) when asked to dance by Mr Bingley. They share an extremely awkward dance. Amanda drinks too much and kisses Mr Bingley.

Mr Darcy is suitably tall, handsome and proud. Miss Bingley is nasty, Mr Bennet delightful and Mrs Bennet is scheming to get her daughters well-married (or at least married).

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Pride and Prejudice

I’ve been having my own little Pride and Prejudice festival; I’ve re-read the novel and watched Lost in Austen, the 1995 BBC version and the 2005 version (I’ll put my thoughts about the movie adaptations in another post).

Once again I am amazed by the brilliance of the writing. This time around a couple of things stuck in my mind. First, Elizabeth’s double-standard in regards to ‘prudential’ marriages. This is her reaction to Charlotte Lucas’s engagement to Mr Collins …

She had always felt that Charlotte’s opinion of matrimony was not exactly like her own, but she could not have supposed it possible that, when called into action, she would have sacrificed every better feeling to worldly advantage. Charlotte the wife of Mr. Collins, was a most humiliating picture! — And to the pang of a friend disgracing herself and sunk in her esteem, was added the distressing conviction that it was impossible for that friend to be tolerably happy in the lot she had chosen.

But when Mr Wickham pays attention to Miss King …

The sudden acquisition of ten thousand pounds was the most remarkable charm of the young lady to whom he was now rendering himself agreeable; but Elizabeth, less clear-sighted perhaps in his case than in Charlotte’s, did not quarrel with him for his wish of independence. Nothing, on the contrary, could be more natural; and while able to suppose that it cost him a few struggles to relinquish her, she was ready to allow it a wise and desirable measure for both, and could very sincerely wish him happy.

Why the difference? Is is because she knows Mr Collins to be a fool (and she knows Charlotte knows this as well) and she knows nothing objectionable about Miss King?

The other thing I noticed was Mary Bennet’s isolation. She is very silly and very vain (although I think she is just trying to get some attention) but she is also very young – she must be between 15 (Lydia’s age and 20 Lizzie’s age). What is the point of Mary’s character? One of the members of my Jane Austen group believes Mary is a portrait of Austen. I haven’t made my mind up about this yet.

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