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Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic…

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with… (edition 2009)

by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith

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6,982351517 (3.25)1 / 418
Title:Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem!
Authors:Jane Austen
Other authors:Seth Grahame-Smith
Info:Quirk (2009), Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:zombies, humour, fiction

Work details

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith

  1. 261
    Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (fugitive)
    fugitive: Duh!
  2. 93
    Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith (Hollerama)
    Hollerama: Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a prequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.
  3. 82
    Android Karenina by Ben H. Winters (Hollerama)
    Hollerama: Another work from Quirk Classics in the same vein as P&P&Z.
  4. 93
    Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters by Ben H. Winters (sweetandsyko)
  5. 30
    Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter by A. E. Moorat (nnattie30)
  6. 31
    Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton (Emidawg)
    Emidawg: You could call this book "Pride and Prejudice and Dragons". The Dragons are the main characters in the book and live in an P&P type setting. While an original novel it can be considered another take on Austen's work.
  7. 31
    Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford (infiniteletters)
  8. 42
    Jane Slayre by Sherri Browning Erwin (bookymouse)
  9. 32
    Blameless by Gail Carriger (jlynno84)
  10. 32
    The Baum Plan for Financial Independence: and Other Stories by John Kessel (suzanney)
    suzanney: This story collection includes "Pride and Prometheus"- in which characters from Pride and Prejudice meet Frankenstein. It's available for free online.

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I will start by admitting that I LOVE ‘Pride and Prejudice’. When I’m feeling ill and grouchy, I instinctively reach for the book or, if I’m feeling really awful, the 1995 BBC adaptation, and it cheers me up to read/ hear the familiar words ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged…’ (I even chose to teach it last year and was slightly saddened that my A level students didn’t seem to be, well, quite as enthusiastic about it as I was. In fact, some of them seemed rather keen to move on to the next text we were studying – obviously something went wrong somewhere!) So when I heard that some impudent writer had decided to add zombies to the original in an attempt to ‘transform a masterpiece of world literature into something you’d actually want to read’, I was torn between horror and intrigue. Where would the zombies fit in the already crowded ballrooms? Would they have the decency not to try to eat their social superiors? Would any of the Bennet sisters escape the matrimonial trap by falling victim to the “unmentionables”? Was Austen turning in her grave? In order to answer these important questions, I felt obliged to buy the book.

The original

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large fortune must be in want of a wife.”

If you’ve never read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ (and if you haven’t, why not? It’s a classic!) then the following information will be useful to you. The novel focuses on the matrimonial hopes and adventures of three young women from a family of five sisters. As their father’s estate is entailed away from them, and there are no brothers to support them, the girls must make advantageous marriages if they are to avoid sliding lower in society. Other characters are introduced to counterpoint the main relationships and help to express the writer’s own perception of courtship and marriage. This sounds rather dull, but it really isn’t! Austen tells the story in a very skilful way and there is a neat twist in our perception of two characters half way through. The chapters are reasonably short and the story is told at a fairly brisk pace: Austen does not lose time lingering over setting or background and much of the action is conveyed through dialogue. There are some letters used to develop the plot and reveal character, as this was still a traditional device when Austen was writing. (In fact, in the story’s original incarnation, ‘First Impressions’, it was an epistolary novel, meaning that it was made entirely of letters.)

The reason I love P&P so much is not because it’s a romance with a happy ending, (in fact, I feel that Austen ultimately presents a very practical view of marriage, and one could certainly argue that Elizabeth’s affection for Darcy only begins to develop when she sees Pemberley,) but because I enjoy Austen’s gently satiric and often richly comic style. When two characters, marrying for money and social respectability rather than love, set out to meet, Austen notes that the female “instantly set out to meet him accidentally in the lane” and that everything was settled in “as short a time as [his] long speeches would allow”. Austen concisely criticises her characters in a lightly amusing way that encourages the reader to feel critical of their behaviour while recognising that it is the way of the world. In particular, Mr Bennet’s treatment of his silly wife and daughters is highly comic and is bound to provoke a smile at least.

Over the years, a great number of adaptations have been created, either for film or television, as interest in what is probably Austen’s most famous work continues to thrive. There are also a great many prequels and sequels in novel form, although I have never read any of these and cannot comment on them. (That said, I hear the majority are dreadful.) This is one of the latest additions to the burgeoning oeuvre of revisionings: a zombie ‘mash-up’ featuring Austen’s full text, adapted and expanded to incorporate zombie mayhem.

The premise

A mysterious plague is afflicting England in the form of the “unmentionables”: the dead are returning to life and eating the living! Central heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to help wipe out the zombie menace from the quiet village of Meryton, and her sisters fight beside her when required. They are all trained in the deadly arts, although the younger girls are perhaps less disciplined. Mrs Bennet wants to see her daughters married and is quite excited when a handsome young man moves into the neighbourhood, but her husband is more interested in keeping the girls alive than matching them with suitors. Gradually, Elizabeth becomes more involved with the young man’s rather haughty friend, Mr Darcy. Can they overcome their ill conceived pride and prejudice (and multiple zombie attacks) to recognise their suitability?

So it really is P&P + zombies. I was particularly intrigued regarding how the fighting would work in a society in which ladies were expected to look and act extremely demurely. I imagine it’s quite a challenge to appear lady like while slicing off a zombie’s head. Of course, the original P&P was written and set during a period when England was at war, and barely touched on the dramatic background. The presence of the militia was an excuse for flirting and partying rather than agonised accounts of death and destruction. (In fact, Austen has been criticised for this absence, but she wrote what she knew, and she did that very well.) I wondered whether the zombies would form part of the background, and half expected the odd reference to the ‘plague’ to crop up without much actual action – but I was wrong.

The mash-up

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

As you can see from the above quotation, Grahame-Smith’s style is one which takes much of the original text and tweaks it, although there are substantial additions elsewhere. The plot is largely unchanged, although the fates of some characters are understandably rather different! The major events all occur, although they frequently feature zombie intrusions, and so you can read the story easily and enjoy the added zombie mayhem.
However, one significant change that I noticed immediately was a lack of subtlety in Grahame-Smith’s amendments. As I mentioned before, it is Austen’s concise, subtle irony that makes P&P so enjoyable. In the very first chapter, the writer creates a much harsher Mr Bennet, who calls his wife a “silly woman” and instructs her to “prattle on if you must”. It may not sound like much, but it transforms the character from a quietly put upon husband to a rather rude man. It also seemed to show a lack of faith in the reader: we must be told that Mrs Bennet is silly and that her husband finds it hard to be patient with her; we may not have noticed otherwise. (Newcomers may be shaking their head at my apparent pickiness, but aficionados of the original will surely understand my own irritation.) This lack of subtlety was apparent in several places throughout the novel where Grahame-Smith adapts Austen’s text to make the implicit explicit. (Elizabeth is also crueller: rolling her eyes and yawning at Mary to show her boredom.) In doing so, I feel he really loses the true flavour of Austen’s writing and I felt that this was a shame.

Similarly, there are hints from as early as chapter four that Darcy’s cold demeanour is somewhat justified. Does the writer believe that without these clues we will write Darcy off too early? (Austen wanted the reader to learn a valuable lesson here, although there were some subtle clues along the way.) Does he believe that a modern reader has to have these large hints about what’s coming up next in order to keep reading? Once again I felt that these additions actually detracted from the original quality of the writing. (Besides, there is no evidence that Darcy was ever “a young man of merry disposition”; Austen wanted us to see Darcy change and grow in response to his love for Elizabeth and her insights. In this version, Darcy loses his complexity.)
However, my criticism of these changes aside, I initially quite enjoyed reading the story. I liked the way that the writer adjusted details in the original text to fit in the zombies (“Don’t keep coughing so, Kitty, for Heaven’s sake! You sound as if you have been stricken!” and “Within a short though perilous walk of Longbourn lived…”) and kept the references to the “unmentionables” suitably dignified for the period (“Some wore gowns so tattered as to render them scandalous”). The writer also makes use of Austen’s understated manner at times to return us to the original story: “Apart from the attack, the evening altogether passed off pleasantly for the whole family.” These neat links made me smile and I enjoyed the way that the zombie details were neatly integrated into the original plot.

The fighting scenes are described clearly and in detail, but without gore. In this sense, I feel that they are true to the original as the added scenes are recounted in a suitably formal style. Elizabeth and her sisters have almost preternatural strength, it seems, having trained in the Orient. While their abilities are perhaps rather unbelievable (“She picked him up with one arm and lowered him into the coach [from the roof]”,) it is a story with zombies in, so suspension of belief seems not only fair but rather fitting! Grahame-Smith does use the zombies at times to reveal aspects of characters that do fit with Austen’s original conception. Lydia’s carelessness, for example, is revealed by her desire to simply ignore the zombie menace unless forced directly to fight. Lady Catherine (Darcy’s formidable aunt) uses her training to try to defeat Elizabeth’s sense of self in the same way that she uses other details to dismiss and belittle her.

One interesting touch is the use of illustrations, which are included throughout the book, usually every 15-30 pages. The darkness of these pictures helps to lend a certain sense of threat to the novel – although this is by no means a scary tale. The illustrations focus on the zombie action and serve to reinforce the bravery of the humans – although, again, this is not a story of epic heroism. It seems a bit mild, but really the pictures are simply an ‘interesting touch’. I don’t feel that they were necessary to the story, but they didn’t detract from it either.

Ultimately, though, I got bored. I became frustrated with the changes that removed Austen’s subtle artistry and blared truths at the reader. I became irritated by the zombie action interrupting the well crafted story I was so familiar with, and some of the events just seemed too ridiculous. (One character spends weeks turning into a zombie…but nobody except Elizabeth seems to notice, despite the zombified woman living near the famous zombie killer that is Lady Catherine. Sorry. No. Too silly.) I found that it took me months to finish the book as I would read bits before bed, but never really ‘got into’ the storyline again. Perhaps I had simply devoured too much of the book initially and ruined my appetite for it.
The reader’s discussion guide

_Some scholars believe that the zombies were a last-minute addition to the novel, requested by the publisher in a shameless attempt to boost sales. Others argue that the hordes of living dead are integral to Jane Austen’s plot and social commentary. What do you think? Can you imagine what this novel might be like without the zombie mayhem?_

In case you hadn’t guessed, this 10 question guide is really about laughs, not about reader discussion at all. However, it is mildly entertaining and was an amusing touch since this is (originally) a ‘classic’. Some of the questions are even vaguely interesting to consider – although I’m not convinced that Austen intended Elizabeth Bennet to be “the first literary lesbian”.


Although I initially enjoyed the weaving of zombies into Austen’s rich tapestry, it is a conceit that I lost interest in about a third of the way through. Perhaps my aversion was caused by my intimate familiarity with the original; I certainly found it irritating in places where I felt that Grahame-Smith had destroyed the subtlety of the original. However, I’m not sure that I would have bothered to read this work if I hadn’t read the original P&P as I feel that a large part of the initial enjoyment does arise from seeing how the zombies are added in. If I was just reading a regency romance with zombies, I can’t imagine what I would be looking for. For this reason, I wonder whether this would have fared better if the writer had only tackled (say) the opening ten chapters. Of course, that said, there would always be some readers who would want to experience the full story once a revisioning was begun. Furthermore, I suspect that I would have found the novel as a whole more digestible if I had consumed it in smaller portions.

Overall, I would advise that you try before you buy with this one – especially if you are already a keen fan of Austen’s wit – but I do think it’s worth a go. ( )
  brokenangelkisses | Sep 10, 2015 |
It’s a lot more absurd than I thought, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s also a lot more integrated into the book itself -- which is only possible because it’s absurd. I guess I was expecting a zombie outbreak happening just sort of… in the background. Like a romance during times of war. Nope, Grahame-Smith wove it right into the story by making the Bennett girls awesome badass ninja zombie fighters.

Despite the zombie spin, the romance is alive and well -- although by necessity lacking some of the wit and subtlety -- and where it survives, the underlying social commentary is wry and absurd.

Favorites: Honestly, all of the best parts were from the original, and it just made me want to re-read Pride and Prejudice.

Least favorites: I did enjoy it, but it isn’t anything ground-breaking. Some of the action scenes were repetitive (which will work much better for the movie adaptation) and the absurd humor didn’t always hit the mark. I really hated that certain things were cut out of the original. ( )
  Andibook | Aug 6, 2015 |
Chick-Lit + Zombies = Awesome!!

This book was delightful. Having already read and liked Austen's zombie-free original I had high hopes for this book. It certainly lived up to the hype in my mind. A fun, quick little read I'm am sure to recommend to all my friends.
( )
  mkclane | Jul 31, 2015 |
Pride, prejudice, zombies…I'd rather be living a real zombie apocalypse.

I know that my review might be a tad biased, as I was never a Jane Austen fan. But of course, through countless parodies and movies and adaptations, everyone and their mother ought to know the basic premise of Jane Austen's fabulous epic, Pride and Prejudice. It's a classic tale of four sisters, and how our heroine breaks down conventional, female roles of the time. Groundbreaking, for some. Now enter Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

I love reading zombie books, from the drama-filled graphic novels of [b:The Walking Dead, Compendium 1|6465707|The Walking Dead, Compendium 1|Robert Kirkman|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1372552170s/6465707.jpg|6656179] to the history of the zombie war in [b:World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War|8908|World War Z An Oral History of the Zombie War|Max Brooks|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386328204s/8908.jpg|817], the primary focus is on the zombie, the mystery behind what started the plague, the survival, the death, and so much more. That's what I think should be the main focus of anything that really touts itself as a zombie book. [b:Pride and Prejudice and Zombies|5899779|Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, #1)|Seth Grahame-Smith|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1320449653s/5899779.jpg|6072122], on the other hand, uses the concept as simply a gimmick.

The Bennets live in a world where zombies have already been roaming England (or the world?) for over 70 years. Yet, everything else seems pretty peaceful, aside from the random zombie attacks that can happen every now and then. No worries…our lovely Bennet sisters are there to save the day. Except until they get married; then we're back to tradition. This book had a lot of potential to break from traditional roles, to perhaps steer the story in a different direction instead of just plastering some zombies on the front. I'm fine with the fact that there was very little action going on in a zombie novel, as this was a Pride and Prejudice adaptation. But there could have been so much more.

If you're looking for a book that focuses on zombies, no need to read this one. They're just an ornament, but don't really add much to the overall story. If you're looking for a good Pride and Prejudice story…then don't read this either. Just read (or reread) the original. ( )
  jms001 | Jun 14, 2015 |
I am still really unsure how I feel about this book, but a 3-star rating seems fair.

Cool idea to add zombies to a classic, although I completely disagree with the intention of "transform[ing] a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read." I think to actually enjoy this book you have to have read the original. This is a good book for people who were forced to read Pride and Prejudice for school and feel some negative feelings toward it because of their lack of choice in reading. Or if you're like me and love Pride and Prejudice as well as zombies, this is a pretty good pick.

Overall, I liked the book. At first I was worried that the zombie aspect of the book mostly consisted of one-liners thrown in, but as I got going, completely new scenes would appear centering around the zombie plot. By the end, it seemed to revolve mostly around Austen's original work (again with a few zombie scenes).

For the most part Grahame-Smith did well matching Austen's tone (Let's face it, no one can perfectly compare with her classic writing style) and adding some witty, if gruesome, additions.

As far as zombie descriptions, they were pretty tame. Not too much gore. For the most part, the zombies didn't even seem like much of a threat, but merely background inconveniences.

For those who have read Pride and Prejudice, any reference to class is pretty much replaced by some zombie-related feature of a character (Miss Bingley disapproves of Jane's until-ladylike habit of smithing zombies). There were a few disconnects in this, which were confusing (Miss Bingley disapproves of zombie slaying vs. Lady Catherine disapproves of the Bennet sisters having studied in China rather than her beloved Japan, but thinks women slaying zombies is perfectly reasonable).There were also a few instances where the additions didn't mesh with the time period (besides the idea of women fighting zombies, it's suggested that it's okay if the sisters do not find suitors because they can just be bodyguards, whereas during the time they would be looked down upon for having to actually have a job). But overall, an interesting idea.

I'd liked to read the prequel and sequel in the series to get background on the conception of the world. It is an interesting feat to rework a classical novel, but this one made a good go of it. ( )
  CareBear36 | Mar 26, 2015 |
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The success of any pastiche lies in its ability to capture the tone of that original, and in this Grahame-Smith has succeeded admirably.
P&P&Z has just too much Austen and not enough zombies. I found myself skimming, skipping larger and larger chunks of text to get to the zombie sequences, desperate to escape the claustrophobic drawing-room chatter of Austen's characters with a little beheading, disemboweling and derring-do.
added by lampbane | editBoing Boing, Cory Doctorow (Apr 1, 2009)

» Add other authors (21 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Grahame-Smith, Sethprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Austen, Janemain authorall editionsconfirmed
Hockensmith, Stevesecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kellgren, KatherineNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.
The mere stateliness of money or rank she could witness without trepidation, but the presence of a woman who had slain ninety dreadfuls with nothing more than a rain-soaked envelope was an intimidating prospect indeed.
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(From the back of the book) "It is a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains" So begins Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, an expanded edtion of the beloved Jane Austen novel featuring all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie mayhem. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton -- and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers -- and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield. Can Elizabeth vanquish the spawn of Satan? And overcome the social prejudices of the class-conscious landed gentry? Complete with romance, heartbreak, swordfights, cannibalism, and thousands of rotting corpses, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies transforms a masterpiece of world literature into something you'd actually want to read.

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A mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton--and the dead are returning to life! Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy.… (more)

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