Wednesday, 12 October 2011


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  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!

Giveaway 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?  


BeckyC said...

You have me intrigued!! It would make a wonderful addition to my kindle.


Wendi said...

Wow, this sounds so interesting and unique! I'd love a copy for my kindle. My email is
wendi50 at gmail dot com

Literary Chanteuse said...

This is a very interesting take on P&P. I have always love Ivanhoe for it's view but not too many novels of that era have this topic in their content. I would love to read this! Kindle for me thanks!


Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading your posting. I like the word picture 'a Gainsborough into a Picasso'. I enjoy a wide range in taste for Austen fanfiction and am intrigued by this twist on the Bennet family back ground.
Thank you for the opportunity for the giveaway. If I were to win, please send me the Kindle version.

Mystica said...

As I do not have a nook or a kindle this is to just say its an interesting version!


Tara Finlay said...

What an excellent and interesting idea. I am intrigued to say the least. I am so grateful for all of you who are writing adaptations and diversions. I've read almost nothing for two years except Jane spin offs and I need that slow, narcotic Austen drip to stay steady :) I have a Kindle with lots of friends for your book to play with. Either way, I look forward to reading it!
@tarafin on Twitter

Phoebe's Sisters said...

I found your post of great interest, because it reminded me a lot of my own relationship with my favourite authors.

As a fellow Jew, it'd be extremely interesting and informative for me to read your book, because it's the subject that I've often reflected upon within the context of Jane Austen's novels - a kind of "What if..." question.

Alas, I have neither a Kindle or a Nook :-))

Unknown said...

I'm very curious!!! I try!
And if I'll be very very lucky, well, I prefer Kindle edition! Thank you!

Lev Raphael said...

Thanks to everyone interested so far!

Farida, an ebook reader can change your life--it doesn't mean you have to give up physical books, but it takes the strain off a home library. My shelves are filled 3-4,000 books; my little iPad can hold 2,000.

Tara, the writers we love really do hypnotize us, don't they?

Sophia Rose, I'm glad you enjoyed that metaphor. I confess I liked it myself. :-)

Margaret, Jews were a small but fascinating presence in Regency England and the more I read about them, the more convinced I was to do this very different kind of mash-up.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lev,

I'd love to win this story! (I'm an ebook person).

Best regards,
Theresa de Valence

Maria Grazia said...

Dear Theresa,
I hope you read this message. I need an e-mail address to contact you in case you're the winner. So, if you don't provide one, you can't enter this contest. Add it to a new comment, please!

Anonymous said...

I love Lev's mysteries, so am looking forward to reading this. I have a Kindle - hope I win!

helenajustina at

haley said...

I would love to read this take. I have a kindle.

Anonymous said...

The novel sounds well researched and fun y. I can't wait to read it. I have a nook and I can be reached at

Bonnie Carlson said...

Can't wait to read this one! Kindle please!

Terry Odell said...

Would love a Nook version. This might actually get me to read the original, which I shamefacedly admit I've never done. Past page 30, anyway.
Terry's Place
Romance with a Twist--of Mystery

Coco Ihle said...

Such an interesting concept, Lev. Knowing your thorough research, I'd say this will be quite successful and definitely food for thought. I don't have an e-reader either, but I wish you the very best in this endeavor.

Unknown said...

This book sounds like an interesting variation! You have me very much interested in your book, thanks!
jakki36 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Carmen said...

Hi! I was very struck with Lev Raphael's words! I've never read a mash-up, but this time it is clear that the author really loves Jane Austen's novels, and that his additions will not corrupt P&P atmosphere...

Rachel said...

Hello dear Grazia! It's marvelous having chances to open our minds with so many kinds of reading of different authors.Thanks a lot! But, dear, excuse me but I don't know exactly what "editions Nook or Kindle" means...I'd love to participate but I don't know what to write. God bless and have a wonderful time! Rachel :D
Follower's name: Rachel Berault

Faith Hope and Cherrytea said...

sounds exquisite!
blstef1 at mts dot net
would love this read {kindle for me} thanks! ;)

Lev Raphael said...

Hi, Rachel: the book is an original ebook, so it's available for Nook or for Kindle. Which book reader do you have?

Thanks, Carmen, that was exactly my aim!

And thanks to everyone else who's interested. :-)

andre chevalier said...

I have written several articles about Jane Austen's rare books. You can check them out at
I believe that we can cooperate on this and exchange ideas.
keep up the good work