Lev Raphael is the author of 21 books in genres from memoir to mystery and his work has been translated into a dozen languages. He currently blogs on books for The Huffington Post and writes a column for the on-line magazine Bibliobuffet.com. A former radio talk show host, he also reviews for public radio in mid-Michigan, and has done hundreds of invited talks and readings on three different continents.
Here's my guest to tell us about his enduring love for Jane Austen and has granted to you a free copy of his Pride and Prejudice: The Jewess and the Gentile ( a kindle copy and a Nook copy)
I fell in love over and over again in college. With authors!
I was an English major and reeled from one new passion to another. Some of them feel like youthful indiscretions now. Tobias Smollett is one of those. Dreiser is another.
Other loves have lasted and deepened as I've grown older and become an author myself and made a career of it. Austen is one of my enduring loves. I've kept returning to different novels of hers over the years, finding new delights, new insights, new inspiration. The writers an author loves became an eternal flame; it may dim sometimes, but it never goes out.
As a Janeite, author, and reviewer, I've watched the Austen mash-up craze with interest. Of course I had to see what the fuss was about, and I was intrigued to read books like Pride and Prejudice with Zombies because they left me with lots of questions. Did the authors really like Austen? After all, there's a lot of contempt in parodies. Were they trying to cash in on the Austen boom? I couldn't say for sure.
Authors are always writing one book or another in their heads, and often those books take unexpected turns. Sometimes new books pop up that push their way to the head of the queue. Reading mash-ups and reading about mash-ups made me want to try one of my own. But a mash-up with a difference.
In a way, it's not complicated to superimpose something crazy on an Austen novel because you break the rules of her universe and make everything conform to your rules. Reality gets twisted almost beyond recognition. If you wanted, you could turn Fanny Price into the reincarnation of Queen Nefertiti and write The Mummy Returns to Mansfield Park.
But I didn't want to wreak havoc on Austen and wondered, what if my book didn't break the rules but kept them, with a twist? I've written a lot on Jewish themes, so what if I made Lizzie's family Anglo-Jews and the book was still Austen's novel, but re-imagined with a whole new set of prejudices and pride about very different things added to the mix?
I did my research about Jews in Regency England, reread Pride and Prejudice (all research should be this enjoyable!) and worked on Austen's novel from the inside out, carefully weaving these new threads of mine into her funny, touching, romantic tapestry.
Don't expect my book to be wildly different from the original; I haven't tried to turn a Gainsborough portrait into a Picasso. The changes I've made are often subtle: think of it as Austen's world seen through a different prism. Maintaining that balance and restraint was one of the most unusual challenges I've faced in my long career, and perhaps the most fun!
LEV RAPHAELGiveaway Time!!!
To enter this giveaway, which is open worldwide, leave a comment + your e-mail address. Winners will be announced on October 19th. Please specify which edition are you interested in, Nook or Kindle?