Herendeen, Ann. “Pride/Prejudice: A Novel of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and Their Forbidden Loves”, Harper. 2010.
The Questions Answered
Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is her most popular novel even though there are questions that remain after reading it. Do we know the nature of Darcy’s friendship with Charles Bingley and does that cause him to prevent the wedding between Bingley and Elizabeth’s sister Jane? How did Darcy deal with his own desire for Elizabeth while he is set upon saving his friend from the same fate? What was the nature of the relationship between Darcy and his foster brother, George Wickham? Was there anything else besides a friendship between Elizabeth and Charlotte? If you want answers, pick up Ann Herendeen’s reimagining of the story as she looks at all that was untold in the original—the secrets, the scandals, the humility of pride and the freedom from prejudice.
Herendeen’s take on the famous novel gives it a bisexual tone. She says the clues are there and she has simply brought them to the surface. In this version, Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy increase their sexual appetites by indulging in same-sex activities—Elizabeth with her sister, Charlotte, Darcy with Charles Bingley who also has to deal with the way he feels about Jane, another of Elizabeth’s sisters. These added activities convolute the text even more and it is not a question of keeping things “straight” because no one here is very straight anyway.
This new look at the story is quite audacious yet it is masterful and the novel becomes one of sexual manners as well as everything else it is purported to be. Austen’s eighteenth century characters get a new “lease on life” and what is so interesting is that everything that Herendeen has written could have actually been.
I have read the reviews that show offense at the treatment of the characters here and to those people, I say, ease up and relax. The creativity of this version more than makes up for what these readers find not to their liking. It is not as if Herendeen has rewritten the Bible and destroyed the basis of our faith. I suspect that these same readers might be afraid of someone finding out about their own hidden sexual desires. This is a book—not the Holy Grail. (On a more sarcastic note, one of the reviewers who was offended by this version could not spell the words “illicit” and “innumerable” and to that I ask if he knows what spell check is on his computer. He also remarks that Lizzy has “Huuuuge” boobs. I quote exactly as written:
“On to the Bennets. Luckily we don’t ever learn of, say, Mr. Bennets forays with other men. This would be expected, given that every one in the Regency era did that kind of thing. Whatever. Jane gets annoyed with Lizzy, she has Huuuuge boobs, Lizzy is largely nice towards the beginning. But after she and Darcy marry and she produces an offspring, she is all ‘meh’ towards her daughter, seems to cringe whenever she looks at her, says that her daughter’s wet nurse is more a mother to her than she is. Not even ruefully. Just factually. She doesn’t even want kids, because it interupts her ability to have sex with Darcy anytime, anywhere. Towards the end – literally, like ten pages from it, she nonchalantly discusses new found ways to abort unwanted pregnancies with Jane, who is shocked. I just…don’t see this from her. Ever”. [I am not pointing out the sentence fragments and other grammatical mistakes].
I say learn to spell before you criticize if you want to be taken seriously. Personally I prefer not to take you at all).