I was an English major in college, and if there was one book that was more popular than all the others, one title that most of the English majors absolutely adored and swore by, it was Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone wanting to marry Mr. Darcy, I’d be rich! (I was always more of a Mr. Rochester fan myself, but I digress). So, this list is for all of those girls I went to college with, dreaming of becoming “Mrs. Darcy”. If you are also a Pride and Prejudice fan, consider checking out the rest of this list. I’m sure you’ll find something fun to keep you entertained.
When you last read Pride and Prejudice, did you ever think of what was going on in the background? We know all the drama and intrigue that Elizabeth and her sisters were caught up in, but what about the other members of the household? I’m talking, of course, about the servants. While discretion is obviously the name of the game, it’s not as though the “hired help” is oblivious to what’s going on around them. Hear the story of Elizabeth and Darcy from a whole new perspective, and learn about the fascinating lives of those members of the Bennet household whom no one talks about. The story follows Sarah, orphaned at a young age and sent to work at Longbourn, where she scrubs laundry and empties chamber pots for the Bennet family. When a mysterious new footman arrives, Sarah’s life and that of the other servants, is completely upended in the most unexpected ways.
For her New Year’s resolutions, Bridget Jones is going to lose weight. She’s also going to stop smoking and develop “inner poise”. And she’s going to chronicle all of this in her diary. What follows is a year’s worth of adventures and misadventures, failures, setbacks, and triumphs, as Bridget tries to better herself in the coming year. Things become complicated when she falls for her boss, Daniel Cleaver, and when she’s reintroduced to the insufferable Mark Darcy, an old childhood playmate who she now can’t stand. Through it all, Bridget writes her own story with wit and charm, as she struggles to better herself (or die trying). Will Bridget be able to find love, lose weight, stop smoking, and achieve inner peace? Or is she (as she fears) doomed to die alone? You’ll have to read Bridget Jones’s Diary to find out! And if you liked the book, consider checking out the movie, too.
It’s a truth universally acknowledged that everyone reading Pride and Prejudice felt there should be more zombies. And, so, Seth Grahame-Smith wrote us this lovely book. Wait… That’s not right? Well, whether you felt that all Austen was missing was swarming hordes of the ravenous undead or not, this just might be the book for you. Of course, if the idea of Elizabeth Bennet slaying the undead while she’s terribly distracted by the handsome and haughty Mr. Darcy, is not for you, then we have plenty of other excellent items on this list! The story essentially takes the original Austen novel and adds in extra chapters, paragraphs, and details, to include zombies. So, you get to still enjoy the classic drama and beautiful writing of Pride and Prejudice…just with a bit more blood and brains mixed in for good measure. If Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is just what you were looking for, perhaps also consider checking out the movie, or the prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls, which tells the tale of how Elizabeth became a master zombie hunter after witnessing events take a horrible turn at a local funeral.
Pride and Prejudice meets murder mystery in Death Comes to Pemberley. Elizabeth and her husband Darcy have been married for six years. They have two fine sons, a good relationship with Elizabeth’s sister Jane and her husband Bingley, and she sees her parents often. Then, Elizabeth’s disgraced sister Lydia comes careening up the drive. Lydia and her dubious husband, Wickham, have been banned from Pemberley, the estate where Elizabeth and her family lives. But, when Lydia in a near panic announces that Wickham has been murdered, all that is momentarily forgotten in place of a sudden and dangerous mystery. This is a gripping and somewhat frightening story, perfect for those Austen fans who also enjoy a good murder mystery. If you enjoyed the book, or would prefer to watch the story instead, there is also a PBS movie for you to check out as well.
Let’s wrap this list up with a Muslim retelling: Ayesha at Last. Ayesha Shamsi dreams of being a poet, but instead, she’s stuck in a teaching job to pay off her debts to her wealthy uncle. She still lives at home, with her boisterous Muslim family, who are constantly reminding her about her cousin Hafsa, who has rejected nearly 100 marriage proposals. While Ayesha doesn’t want to end up alone, she’s also sure that she doesn’t want an arranged marriage. But, then she meets Khalid, smart, handsome, and super-conservative. He’s judgmental, dresses like he’s from the seventh century…and Ayesha can’t get him out of her head. When a surprise engagement is announced between Khalid and Hafsa, Ayesha is torn between her personal feelings for him and the unsettling rumors she’s been hearing. As she looks into the truth of the matter, she finds that she’ll have to deal with not only what she discovers about Khalid, but what she discovers about herself, as well.