13 November 2010


Locus Focus: Take Twenty-Seven!

Some loci are just not meant to have the foci. Remember that non-fiction setting I had in mind last week but pushed aside for another? Well, I'm still having trouble writing about it now. And having trouble with non-fiction settings in particular.

I wouldn't diagnose this as "Locus Focus Burnout" just yet, as I did have something else ready; but I think this month's theme managed to lose me completely. So what follows is not only completely fictional, but also unusually fantastic.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith

It was a handsome stone building, made to resemble the grandest palaces of Kyoto, and backed by a ridge of high, woody hills; and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into a natural defence against frontal assault, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where the natural beauty of the Orient had been so little counteracted by English taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration . . .

They descended the hill, crossed between the stone dragons on either side of the bridge, and drove to the solid jade door . . .

If I had to pick one part of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies that perfectly captures how well Austen's character-driven romance blends with Grahame-Smith's undead gimmick, it would be the chapter in which Elizabeth visits Pemberley for the first time. Yes, it's still Pemberley--the setting which both marks and triggers the turning in Elizabeth's feelings toward Mr. Darcy--but it's Pemberley as you've never seen it before. For it is the home of Darcy as you've never seen him before: one of the fiercest and most dedicated zombie slayers in England.

When I was studying Austen's original, zombie-less novel in uni, a friend and I discussed this first glimpse of Pemberley. Elizabeth is awed by the beauty of the house and grounds; and for the first time, she regrets that she didn't accept Mr. Darcy's proposal when she had the chance--however awfully he might have made it. And my friend remarked, "Doesn't she seem so shallow now?"

I had to agree, and we giggled over it for a while. We've got your number now, Lizzy Bennet.

But the zombie-slaying Elizabeth is a less embarrassing character. When she sees Mr. Darcy's estate, she is not beholding merely a luxurious home any man with ten thousand a year could boast of, but the home of a warrior whose dedication to the martial arts and disgust of the zombie scourge actually matches her own. That is, she realises that he might actually be the only man in England she could love and finally hang up her sword for. And really, how beautiful is that?

Now it's your turn!
Leave the link to your Locus Focus post in the linky
and take some time to check out and comment on those of others.
I can't wait to read what everyone has to say! =D

This week's other locus focus:

E.V. Lucas' London @ Birdie's Nest

Image Source: Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith


Lesa said...

Hmm... wondering what you thought of this book-- are you planning any more posts about it?

Kinda funny--I just read the part in Emma where she visits and admires Mr. Knightley's home-- she doesn't know she loves him yet-- but still it is another Austen house theme.

I always chuckle to myself when I read that bit in P&P too-- it is a bit shallow but perfectly normal and realistic-- who wouldn't think 'dang, I could've been mistress of THAT!!!'

DeLynne actually said something very similar a few years ago regarding an old college boyfriend who became a multi-millionaire-- still amuses me-- she is the Lizzie Bennett of the Mrs. BG blog!

Enbrethiliel said...


I'm not really planning to write more about it. (Then again, you never know . . . and neither do I! =P)

But a few months ago, Ellen requested a post about "monster mash-ups" just like this one, so they're certainly on my mind. The friend who lent me Pride and Prejudice and Zombies also let me borrow Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. The only reason I haven't started it is that I last read the original over ten years ago and need to refresh my memory first.

That's funny about Jane Austen's heroines being impressed by houses. When I reread Sense and Sensibility, I'll check to see whether Colonel Brandon has a nice home and how much of a factor it was in Marianne changing her mind about him! ;-)

Hey, did you ever watch Romy and Michelle's High School Reunion? Someone who was a really awkward geek in high school became a billionaire and arrived at the reunion in a helicopter. And of course, his high school crush decided she was willing to give him a second chance. *cynical laugh* But for me, the funniest part was when the girl who had carried a torch for him all throughout high school and past graduation, took one look at his "new and improved" self . . . and promptly dropped the torch. ROFL!!! She wasn't impressed by his polish and wealth at all.

Lesa said...

I read S&S last year but don't remember if the Col. house was mentioned in particular-- he is rich though and probably does have a impressive home.

Oh yes-- we've chatted about the Romy movie before-- that is a funny scene. And the mysterious rebel she preferred over the rich guy was a perfect match.

In case you don't write more about this book-- I read the first chapter last week at the school book fair and couldn't decide if I liked it or not-- At first, I thought I did then I wasn't so sure. Maybe my mood wasn't right..

Enbrethiliel said...


Oh, I completely forgot to tell you what I thought of it! *smacks forehead* And that was the first question you asked, too, wasn't it?

Well, I thought it was a very clever gimmick. There are no interesting changes to the story like you'd find in Lost in Austen (which I think did a great job mucking up Bingley and Jane's story before getting them back together as they should be--and a totally rotten job with Darcy and Lizzy's story); it's basically the same plot, with zombies. =P

There are fewer zombie references towards the end, when it's pretty much Austen all the way. And I actually found that a weakness! I mean, I already know what happens in Pride and Prejudice. I don't want to read it again. What I want are zombies!!! LOL! And so when the story proceeds "straight," I miss the twists and turns in the pursuit of fresh brains.

Not that the zombie jokes don't get tiresome. For they do! =( Then again, how many can one tell before they get old, right?

As for the characters . . . I actually like the Lizzy in this one more than the Lizzy in the original. (LOL!) She's much fiercer, and her tendency to judge people finds a new but still believable expression in her mercilessness toward the undead. One problem I did have was that we don't really see her make the transition from her original hardhearted state to a softer, more forgiving state. She does change, but we don't see the character arc. =(

In short, it is obviously flawed, but I still enjoyed it and am glad I read it.

Lesa said...

Thanks! Since you are a horror/zombie kind of gal but also a lover of classics, I was really curious about which way you would lean. Glad there was no betting involved because I almost thought you wouldn't like it.

I really liked the Lost in Austen miniseries-- maybe I will try the zombie or another mash-up sometime just to see. I may be more of a traditionalist than I think I am though.

Mash-ups do sound gimmicky and seem as if they would be more focused on action rather than character development.

What about the mash-up Jane Slayre? Do you plan to read it too?

Now I'm thinking that my reservations with P&P and zombies may have to do with it being one of my fave book-- don't think I'd want to read a mash-up of Anne of Green Gables, Secret Garden or GWTW either. Maybe I should try Android Karenina instead.

Enbrethiliel said...


Android Karenina?!?!?!?!?! That's one I haven't even heard of yet!!! If I didn't know better--and if we weren't surrounded by so many mash-ups--I'd say you were pulling my leg! ;-)

I've thought about it some more, and I'd compare these new "retellings" to Fan Fiction, which runs the whole spectrum in terms of quality. And something I'm usually able to tell--particularly with Terminator FF (LOL!)--is whether the author feels the same respect for the story's universe and the same love for the characters that I do. When he does, I'm happy to read his story, even if he ends up killing off one of my favourites.

But as there are some FF authors who think of the characters as a means to an end (their own!), there are some mash-up authors who are all about the gimmick and not about the source material. I think Seth Grahame-Smith falls somewhere in the middle. I wouldn't say he's a huge Jane Austen fan (though I could be wrong!), but I didn't get the sense that he was just exploiting her most beloved novel for a gimmick and a quick buck.

*takes a deep breath and hopes she hasn't completely bored everyone*

I guess the main reason I didn't like Lost in Austen was that I expected Darcy and Elizabeth to get together and Amanda and Wickham to become a couple. Lizzy and Darcy are a non-negotiable for me, I'm afraid! =P

At the moment, I'm trying to keep myself from buying more books, so unless I find another friend who has copies of other mash-ups she can lend me or I win one in a giveaway, I won't be reading anything else soon.

Enbrethiliel said...


PS--You've got me thinking . . .

I can totally see a mash-up of The Secret Garden with werewolves: Colin raving every night of the full moon, Dickon being the only one who can "tame" the monster, etc.

Not sure about Anne of Green Gables, though.

As for Gone with the Wind . . . I'd say vampires, but that's probably due to the influence of Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (or whatever the title of that one is).

Lesa said...

Yeah, fan fiction-- that makes sense--especially in respect to the quality depending on the author's love/respect of the original-- I'll start looking at mash-ups with that in mind.

haha-- I kid you not-- I see it everytime I go to the Books-a-million store on the mash-ups table-- a sci-fi mash-up.

Good idea for a Secret Garden mash-up-- I can see it too even if I might not want to read it unless the author is a Secret Garden geek!

Yes, after I typed my previous comment, it popped into my head that Scarlett would be a fierce fighter of monsters-- maybe yankee zombie soldiers.

If Karenina can be sci-fi, what about fantasy for Anne-- maybe Avonlea has rival faerie courts-- Anne may be a long lost faerie princess-- she is an orphan after all.

Ohh-- Little Princess-- Miss Minchin might be the queen of a goblin horde residing under London--- maybe Lavinia is a goblin!!!

Enbrethiliel said...


Hmmmmm. For some reason, it's easier for me to think of mash-ups for Frances Hogdson Burnett's books than for L.M. Montgomery's. I totally see Sara Crewe picking up some monster-slaying techniques in India and getting her sense of dignity from being a child warrior rather than a secret princess! I wonder what we could do with those diamond mines . . .

antiaphrodite said...

The heroine and the hero's house--I wonder if that's intentional, or something that tells more about the author than the characters?

Enbrethiliel said...


It reminds me of something spoiler-ish in Austen's Northanger Abbey: the main reason Henry Tilney falls in love with Catherine Morland is that he felt flattered when he heard she had a crush on him. He learns more about her later, of course, but if she hadn't betrayed her infatuation to his sister, he wouldn't have given her a second look. And even as Austen agrees that it's quite derogatory to a poor heroine's dignity, I think she admits that it's also the way of the world where a lot of real men and women are concerned.

A male friend I have says that most men won't approach a woman unless she sends signals his way that she'd be interested. It's hardly what we'd expect of a fictional romantic hero, but it's true.

And Lizzy's and Emma's reactions to their prospective suitors' grand houses are not what we'd expect from romantic heroines (who are supposed to be above "all that"), but it's also very realistic. Elizabeth Bennet is such a beloved Austen character that we tend to think of her as perfect, but Austen never wrote her that way. Lizzy is just as silly as any of us! =D