Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Happy 200th Birthday, Pride and Prejudice!

The 1894 "Peacock Edition"
of Pride and Prejudice
By Marilyn Brant

Maybe it's not this way for everyone (I'm well aware my personal circle of friends is inhabited by insatiable readers and dedicated writers), but I'm pretty sure just about everyone I know has one of these...and I'd be willing to bet most of you do, too: The Novel That Changed Your Life.

Oh, no, be assured, I'm not saying there can be only one such novel -- not for us bibliophiles -- but I think you'll know right away the very specific and remarkable kind of book I mean. The one from your childhood or young adulthood that's responsible for you knowing (perhaps even as you were reading it) that you'd stumbled upon a story that would spin your worldview forevermore in a different direction. The first time when you were actually aware that the prose of another writer -- living or dead -- had changed you. The author's words had pushed your mind outward and, like an idea whose time had come, kept your brain stretched so far that it could never return to its original dimensions.

Do you know your book? I think you do...

Mine is Pride and Prejudice. I knew really early on while reading the story that I was in the hands of a literary genius. By the time I'd reached the midpoint of the novel, that crafty Jane Austen had gotten me to look at every single person in my life with fresh eyes. She made me ponder just how similar each of them were to the memorable and masterfully drawn characters in P&P. Made me study their behavior with clearer vision. Made me think about the point of view and motivations of others long before I ever became a novelist.


Debut Novel: According to Jane,
October 2009
Even more cleverly, Austen left me little choice but to turn a more critical eye on myself and to ask, in the silent reaches of my fourteen-year-old mind, "Am I being blinded by either pride or prejudice, like Elizabeth and Darcy were, when it comes to this particular situation?" Or "Is this guy I'm talking to just trying to flatter me so I can serve as one of his social puppets, like Wickham might do?" Or, more painfully, "Could my piano playing really be as dreadful as Mary Bennet's?" These were weighty questions indeed for a high school freshman.

No matter how many times I've reread that brilliant novel in the decades since, I'll never forget -- nor will I ever stop being grateful for -- the way Austen's insights into the foibles of human behavior left its mark on my adolescent worldview and made me just a little more aware of the people surrounding me.

There was something so powerful about P&P that it almost haunted me as I left my teen years behind and became a working adult... I could very nearly hear Jane Austen's voice telling me to pay greater attention to her lessons on fairness, common sense, compassion and civility toward all. So much was I influenced by her work that I finally wrote a manuscript called According to Jane, which turned out to be my debut women's fiction book (Kensington). It's a story about a woman who has the ghost of Austen in her head, giving her dating advice.

New Release: Pride, Prejudice and the
Perfect Match, January 2013
And now, six books later, I'm returning to my writing origins with my seventh novel, just out today -- a new contemporary romance that is a digital nod to our dear Jane: Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match. It's a light, modern love story between an ER doc and a single mom, both of whom have ulterior motives for meeting on an internet dating site (Lady Catherine's Love Match Website, for those of you might appreciate the joke ;).

Why release this particular story right now? Ahhh...because The Novel That Changed My Life turns 200 years old this month (on January 28th, who else is breaking open something sparkly in Austen's honor, hmm?) and I wanted to mark the bicentennial of P&P with a special story. It's my way of celebrating the joy and wisdom my favorite author brought to me. I hope some of you will join me in raising a glass of your favorite beverage (it doesn't have to be a Regency-era drink, LOL) to the legacy Jane Austen left behind two centuries ago. Here's to Jane!!

Who else out there is an Austen fan? And, if you'd like to share, I'd love to know one of the novels that changed your life, too...

14 comments:

  1. I am a huge Austen fan! I love all her books, but the best for me are still the ones that begin with a 'P' - Pride and Prejudice, and Persuasion.

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    Replies
    1. Margay,
      I knew you were a fellow Austen lover!! It's so nice to see you here :). And I'm in agreement with you. I admired Jane's writing in every book she wrote, but P&P and Persuasion were always my favorites, too. Happy New Year!

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  2. Happy birthday, Pride and Prejudice!! And congrats on the new release. Wishing you tons and tons of sales.

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    Replies
    1. Brenda,
      Thank you!! I'm excited about the release of this new story and hope readers will like it, too...fingers crossed!

      Delete
  3. Congratulations on the new book, Marilyn! I can't wait to read it. I'm also a huge Austen fan and love love P&P. I will admit, though, that the book that changed my life was Little Women. I love me some Jo March:)

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    Replies
    1. Maria,
      Ohhh, Jo March!! What a fabulous character she was...sigh. Yeah, Little Women is wonderful. Thank you for the congrats, too ;).

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  4. Congrats on your new release, Marilyn! I'm so glad Jane and P&P impacted your life! :)
    I truly can't recall any one particular novel that changed my life. :/ Oh, well! I will gladly raise a glass of Coke Zero (pretending it is something much stronger) ;) and celebrate your novel's release along with P&P's 200th anniversary!! :)

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    Replies
    1. Jakki,
      What's not to love about Coke Zero?! I think I need some of that to wake me up today... ;) And THANK YOU -- not only for celebrating with me but for being one of my story editors. It was a joy sharing the final stages of the novel with you!

      Delete
  5. I'm teaching Pride and Prejudice this semester for a college English course. Looking forward to it, considering it has been years since I read it. Good luck with your release.

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    Replies
    1. Karin,
      Thank you! I wish I could experience reading P&P for the first time again... Your students are lucky to have you guiding them through the novel. I'd love to sit in on your class discussions :).

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  6. Congratulations on the new release, Marilyn! Can't wait to read it.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks so much, Lori!!
      I really hope you'll like it ;).

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