New book: Pride/Prejudice: A Novel of Mr. Darcy, Elizabeth Bennet, and Their Other Loves, By Ann Herendeen ’77 (HarperCollins)
The author: Herendeen has worked as a researcher for an urban planning consultant, an advertising media planner, and today as a cataloging librarian specializing in natural history. Several years ago she found her writing niche with the publication of her first novel, Phyllida and the Brotherhood of Philander, an unconventional historical romance in which one of the main characters, a gay man, falls in love with his wife before meeting his ideal male partner. In her new novel, Pride/Prejudice, she again plays with a bisexual theme — this time filling in “gaps” in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that Herendeen says Austen left unexplored.
The plot: In what Herendeen calls a “bisexual version” of a Jane Austen classic, Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy still marry, as do Darcy’s friend Charles Bingley and Elizabeth’s older sister Jane. But as Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy are matching wits, they also get involved with other lovers — he with Bingley and Elizabeth with the older Charlotte Lucas.
Opening lines: “It is a truth universally acknowledged,” Fitz said, “that a single man in possession of a good fortune is in want of a wife.”
Charles blinked and sat up. “Lord, Fitz! It’s the middle of the night. What do you expect me to make of that? Sounds like another of your epigrams.”
“I suppose it is,” Fitz said. “But its meaning does not seem particularly obscure.”
“You and Caroline going to tie the knot at last? You sly dog.”
Fitz grimaced and pulled Charles back down beside him. “My dear,” he said, “you have a tendency to levity that, like any disproportion, can be tedious in excess.”
Review: Publishers Weekly wrote: “Though Herendeen claims she’s merely unearthed the ‘hidden’ story from clues already written into the original, what unquestionably occurs in this unlikely redo is erotic, witty and as often silly as refreshing.” By Katherine Federici Greenwood