My cousin, who I adore, gave me this Pride and Prejudice graphic novel, and when I told SBSarah about it she requested a review. Since my daughter also read it, at least part of it, you get two mini reviews instead of one long one. I'll go first:
I have to say that the cover is the best thing about the graphic novel. Otherwise, it is a fairly faithful retelling of the story that just happens to have a lot of art. Originally the novel was printed in installments and each installment's cover is included, all in the same style and all very funny. The non-cover art is less contemporary in style, and while it's nothing ground breaking it is rather lovely. Mr. Darcy is strangely unattractive to my eyes but the scenes in which Jane and Lizzy interact are full of warmth. I also got a kick out of the bit where Mr. Collins is pointing out the features of his home, and each feature he lists gets its own little panel.
My test for an adaptation is not how faithful or innovative it is, but whether or not the adaptation teaches me anything about the source material. The one thing I picked up from this adaptation is that Mr. Darcy really isn't around for most of the story. He is such a powerful presence that it had never actually occurred to me that he is hardly ever actually present. Otherwise, I'd say this was an entertaining diversion but nothing earth shaking.
I'd advice the reader to skip the introduction, which was irritating (RANT ALERT!). The writer, Nancy Butler, encouraged Marvel to adapt P&P as a means of appealing to female readers, because, says Nancy, Treasure Island is a “boy book”. Grrrrrrr. My daughter and I just finished Treasure Island. It's a book about a boy, but I doubt that makes it a “boy book”. I don't even know what a “boy book” is. To give more context, Nancy says, “I would always bring up something I'd noticed at the comics stores – girls stayed outside. There didn't seem to be anything to lure them inside”. OK, first of all, I don't believe that's even true these days. Certainly my daughter and I read comics avidly. We are lured in by strong female characters like Agatha Heterodyne of Girl Genius and we are lured in by interesting male characters like Tintin and ensembles like The Avengers. The inclusion of more female authors in the Illustrated Classics line (which admittedly, is overwhelmingly dominated by male authors) would be awesome. Telling me its necessary because I won't read a “boy book” is insulting. Nancy has a legitimate point to make but it's couched in condescending language and that's too bad, because we really do need more female authors and artists in the comics world.
Now for my daughter's review. She is nine, and very into comics, so of course she picked this one up and started reading it. Here's her short review:
I didn't think it was good. It gave me a headache. The only part I liked was when Jane says, “Whatever could she have meant?” and Lizzy says, “We'll know soon enough. Mama has never yet kept a secret” and Lydia says, “Oh dear, I hope she hasn't learned that the regiment is leaving Meryton” and Kitty says “I doubt it, remember she said, 'delightful news'”, and Mary says, “Why you two waste all your time with those silly officers is beyond me”. I like that part because it's funny. Lydia and Kitty are boy crazy!
So there you have it. The covers are great, the art is nice, it will appeal to adults but not to nine year olds, and Lydia and Kitty are boy crazy.
Honestly, there's not much else to say about it. Did the world desperately require a Pride and Prejudice graphic novel? Judging from this, I'd say no – but it was fun, the art is quite nice, and I can see this being a lovely Valentine's present for your favorite Jane Austen fan. I certainly got a kick out of it, not counting the introduction, which you can merrily skip over. And the covers are frame-worthy delights!