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JABC #8: "Vanity and Vexation: A Novel of Pride and Prejudice" by Kate Fenton

My eighth review for the Jane Austen Bicentenary Challenge! I believe I shall review the graphic novel adaptation of P&P for September...



I happened upon this book on my last visit to the local library, and glad I am that I found it! This interesting, “modern” adaptation on everyone’s favorite Austen was a nice change of pace from Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, that’s for sure!

Vanity and Vexation is like a gender swapped P&P with the “Lizzy Bennet” character represented in the personage of Llew Bevins, a Welsh author living in a tiny, North-of-England rural town who finds himself thrust in the midst of a film-shoot for a BBC-esque adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice.” Arriving on the scene is a Miss Dance (aka Mr. Darcy) – formidable director and sometimes-bitch who keeps the entire production together. With her is the bright young actress (in the “Mr. Bingley” role) who falls in love with Llew’s best friend and brother-in-law (the “Jane” character). There are, of course, a slew of other characters that fall under the other necessary parts: a waifish, emo-type Wickham girl, an eager young lad and aspiring radio star who fills in for Lydia, and the local pub owner who makes a rather hilarious mirror for Mrs. Bennet, to name a few.

The best part of this book may be that it is actually an adaptation-of-an-adaptation that is quite aware of its parodying powers. The character of Llew often bemoans his “casting” as Lizzy Bennet opposite Mary Dance’s Darcy, and he frequently draws parallels (through third person narration) that the audience may or may not have already picked up on.

I was disappointed, later on in the novel, by the amount of sex and the power of lust in the relationship that springs up between Llew and Mary. While Llew makes a smashing Lizzy figure with his snark, self-deprecating humor, and observations of all around him, I wasn’t convinced with his attraction for Mary, nor hers for him. Their “romance” seemed far too carnal and not at all lasting – but I won’t say more, lest someone decides to give the book a read. This is not a warning that the novel is explicit: it’s really not. And I’m not against sex as an expression of love! However, when it serves as a substitute for love? I’m not a huge fan.

I certainly enjoyed the book, and I would be interested to read more of Kate Fenton’s works. I would happily give this a 4 out of 5 opossums.
Tags: jane austen bicentenary challenge 2013
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