Book Review Club: Pride and Prejudice… and Zombies?

P&P and Zombies coverPride and Prejudice and Zombies
By Seth Grahame-Smith and Jane Austen
Published October 1st 2009 by Quirk Books

I tried to resist this book, but when the movie was on TV last fall, I recorded it. Then when my readers group decided to do Books into Films as a topic, I checked out the library e-book and read it. I have to say, I found the book to be kind of weird, mostly Jane Austen but with the zombie stuff and martial arts thrown in. I didn’t think the author did a good job of really making the zombies seem an integral part of the story, but I did kind of like the idea of Lizzy and her sisters as kick-ass martial artists and zombie killers. The class distinctions were played up by the aristocrats, like Darcy and Lady Catherine de Burgh, preferring Japanese martial arts, and looking down on the Bennett girls, who were trained by “Chinese peasants”.

In the final analysis, I enjoyed reading P&P again, and I chuckled at many of Grahame-Smith’s insertions.It’s pretty hard to improve upon Jane Austen. Impossible really.

A friend who is in graduate school told me that zombies, which are so popular nowadays, are “a metaphor for modernization or modernity, at least that is the way literary scholars are interpreting the book, where life increasing eats people up and turns them into walking dead…”

I have to say, I really didn’t get that from the book, and honestly, I don’t think that was Grahame-Smith’s reason for writing the book. I think he was looking for a high concept read that would sell lots of books and land him a movie deal, which is what happened. But color me cynical.

DVD coverAfter reading the book, I watched the film. The movie script, which actually changed Jane Austen’s plot, made more sense to me as a zombie movie. They really upped the stakes and made the zombie threat seem credible and menacing. I liked the actress who played Elizabeth, but I wasn’t as crazy about the actor who played Darcy. But then, I hold Colin Firth up as the model for the perfect Darcy, so that’s a high standard to meet. 😉

It’s very unusual of me to say a movie was better than the book it was based on, but this is one of those exceptions.

I’d love to know what others thought of the book and/or movie, so leave a comment. And click on the graphic below for more great reviews in Barrie Summy’s Book Review Club.

Linda

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Book Review Club: The Monuments Men Book & Movie #amreading

Monuments Men book coverThe Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter
NY: Center Street, 2009

(Click here for to read about the paintings on the book cover.)

Last year, Monuments Men was available as a Kindle Daily Deal for $1.99 so I grabbed a copy, but didn’t read it until this year. I found the book fascinating. What the monuments men did was remarkable, as no army in history had ever been convinced to even attempt to protect artwork and monuments. (And sadly, this has never been done again.) Fortunately, Roosevelt, Eisenhower and Churchill realized that preserving European culture was important. Eisenhower issued an order that buildings designated as monuments could only be destroyed in situations of military necessity, not military convenience.

Madonna of Bruges

BRUGES, BELGIUM – JULY 30, 2014 : Madonna of Bruges by Michelangelo in church of Our Lady Bruges, July 30, 2014, in Bruges, Belgium

The monuments men were drawn from the museum and artistic community, and most of them were at least forty. This hits home even more in the movie when we see middle-aged men being recruited into the army. (Of course, many of the actors were far older than the characters they portrayed.) The men worked mostly alone, without a lot of resources. After the D-Day landings, they learned how much art had been looted by the Nazis. So the mission wasn’t just about protecting monuments from further destruction, it was also the greatest treasure hunt in history.

Neuschwanstein Castle

Neuschwanstein castle in Germany – bottom view

One woman played a huge part: Rose Valland of the Louvre. She was a witness to the Nazi looting, and she risked her life to document what they had stolen and where they were shipping it. Without her help, much of the art might never have been found. I recommend the book unreservedly.

Had I watched the movie first, I might have liked it. I really wanted to like it, but I had read the book first. The movie changed the names of the people involved, which I found confusing and a little disrespectful, and created some composite characters. Some of the incidents in the book were highly dramatized for the film, and other scenes were just made up, no doubt for dramatic effect. Instead of enjoying it, I found myself mumbling things like, “that’s not what happened” and “that’s not the way it happened” etc.

My advice is: Read the book and skip the movie!

Linda

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