Today I have joined a long and illustrious line of Jane Austen imitators with my novella Prude & Prejudice, which is now available on Amazon.
When one joins the ranks of Jane Austen wannabes, you really have to ask yourself the question why this provincial writer of women's fiction is still so popular today nearly two hundred years after her demise? What is it that makes her writing relevant and copied when so many other books have disappeared without a trace? It really comes down to the universal appeal of a good story. In Pride & Prejudice Jane Austen got the ingredients just right with a smouldering romance and a good healthy dose of satire and humor that captured that social nuances of her time.
Some people believe it's lazy to piggyback on another author's work, but I think it's the greatest compliment you can pay a writer. I didn't set out to write my own mini-version of P&P until I came up with the title Prude & Prejudice. It tickled my funny bone so much that I had to use it and the story just grew from there.
My novella is set in contemporary England and although I've drawn on the original work in some ways, I've also tried to make it quite different in keeping with the times. The idea to make it about racial prejudice came from a couple of incidents caught on mobile phones last year which showed two very bitter women abusing immigrants on the tube in London (see below).
It really makes me angry when people think that because they were born in a country they somehow 'own' that country and can decide who belongs. This novella gave me a good opportunity to vent some of my spleen over these incidents and also attempt to show how easily these kinds of feelings can be exploited by the extreme right and politicians. Wrapping this up in a romance/chick lit novella based loosely on P&P was challenging and fun, and revisting my favourite book reminded me all over again of why I love Jane so much!
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a woman with a name like Prudence Higginbottom must be in need of a good shagging.
Prudence Higginbottom’s youth was marred by the cruel taunts she endured over her unfortunate name, but at the age of twenty-six she has managed to rise above it all to become the part-owner of a café and catering business with her parents and three sisters in the small town of Merryton. When the Higginbottom family are hired to cater the opening function for a new business that has just relocated from London, Prue is excited as everyone else, especially when she discovers that the two company directors, Charles Bradley and William Darling, are handsome and single.
Her excitement, however, is short-lived. The first time she encounters William Darling at the company’s opening party he mocks her name and insults her appearance. She then overhears a conversation in which he expresses some very unsavoury opinions about immigration. It becomes her mission to expose him for the prejudiced, narrow-minded man that he is and prevent him from fermenting racial intolerance in her town.
Things become complicated when Prue discovers that she is not immune from prejudice herself, and William Darling behaves in ways that seem completely out of character for him. Through a series of misunderstandings and embarrassing drunken outbursts Prue and William finally get to know one another and realise that first impressions can be very misleading.
Prude & Prejudice is a novella length romantic comedy (16,200 words).