What a week it's been! Wherever I turned, Pride and Prejudice spin-offs have been coming at me thick and fast. I've been reading one of the most recent sequels, The Darcys & The Bingleys, which is best described as a romp, and a highly irreverant one at that. Marsha Altman has imagined the few years immediately after the marriage of the two eldest Bennet girls, and in doing so has introduced some elements which JA herself might have found somewhat shocking. The main preoccupation of Darcy and Bingley just before the wedding turns out to be how to please their wives in bed. Darcy solves this by rushing off to London to buy a copy of the Kama Sutra. Later in the novel the plot turns on the proposed marriage of Caroline Bingley to a Scottish earl who may not be what he seems. It takes a lot of chasing around the country -- Darcy Bingley and Georgiana to London, Lizzie and Mr Bennet to Scotland -- and even two attempted murders before this is all finally sorted out and Caroline ends up with the man she has secretly loved all along. Not one for the purists, then. If you can suspend your disbelief and go along with the raciness, the humour, the unexpected revelations about Darcy's and Bingley's early years at Cambridge (Darcy far too susceptible to alcohol), the frequent, and presumably deliberate, lapses into modern English, you will find this entertaining. If not -- read something else.
Or.. try Lost In Austen. As everyone probably knows by now, this is a four-part series in which Amanda Price, delightfully played by Jemima Rooper, a long-time devotee of P&P, finds herself catapulted back into the world of the novel, having changed places with Lizzie Bennett. I wasn't totally taken with the first episode last week, but still curious to see how things were going to develop. And I found myself rather enjoying this week's episode. Poor Amanda is making a terrible mess of things, though far from deliberately. Her 21st century openness and freedom of speech combined with her good looks are playing havoc with the susceptibilities of the Austen men. Having foolishly kissed the smitten Bingley in the first episode, this week she sets herself the task of encouraging him to fall in love with Jane instead. Meanwhile Mr Collins has turned up and has immediately proposed to her, much to her horror and disgust. Things go from bad to worse at the Netherfield ball, when Amanda ends up inflicting an extremely painful and extremely personal injury on Mr Collins. Darcy meanwhile has developed the most intense dislike of her, and she is appalled to realise that he falls far short of the man she has dreamed of all these years. By now she has alienated the whole Bennet family and is soon asked to leave Longbourn. The episode ends with Jane marrying Mr Collins and Charlotte Lucas deciding to go to Africa as a missionary. How will she extract herself from this mess?
Finally, if you live in the US, you can go and see a musical version of P&P on Broadway. If you don't, never mind -- you can still listen to Darcy singing 'Fine Eyes'.