Angela Parisi - Menoutis has long been an avid admirer of Jane Austen's works. The manner in which Miss Austen wrote, clearly delineated the good, bad, and the absurd in humankind, thus keeping her readers amused and totally absorbed in the characters she created. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in "Pride and Prejudice." Although the author appreciated all of Austen's books, her favorites remain "Sense and Sensibility", "Emma", "Persuasion", and, of course, "Pride & Prejudice."
In the writing of the book, "Two Different Worlds: A Dance From Pride And Prejudice", it was the author's desire to preserve the purity of Miss Austen's personalities at the same time as introduce someone new, Arianne Prescott. Initially, Miss Prescott, a 21st century chemist stepping into a fictional past, wished to preserve the integrity of the story while personally experiencing it. Therefore, some sections of the book were abridged versions of the original text. But as Arianne realized that altering the story was inevitable, there was more of a blending of Austen's writing with this author's.
The author utilized this technique principally to have the reader feel transported into the book with Arianne. The Janeites would be able to detect all the identical and modified portions of the tale as well as the nuances and time-line variations. Also, the book thus written, could still be enjoyed by those who had never read the original novel at all. And really, isn't that the goal of every Janeite ― to create others?
Although it had been far from her intention, Arianne Prescott ought to have realized from the start that the removal of Elizabeth Bennet's footprint, along with the addition of her own, would produce profound variations to the story of Pride and Prejudice. But the temptation to enter into that world was too great for her romantic soul. She, therefore, embarked upon the most whimsical adventure of a lifetime - meeting Mr. Darcy, outwitting Miss Bingley, and giving the infamous Mr. Wickham a piece of her mind. All these things we have longed to do ourselves - and through Arianne's eyes - we can
Read an excerpt
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”
To Arianne Prescott, those few words opened up a door to another world: a world of ladies who curtseyed and gentlemen who bowed, of mansion estates and balls with live orchestras, a world where she could reunite with her friends ― Elizabeth, Jane, Charlotte, and Anne ― and meet again with such gentlemen as Mr. Bingley and, of course, Mr. Darcy.
Mr. Darcy. Oh, how she loved Mr. Darcy.
You could call her a Pride and Prejudice aficionado. Although she read all of Jane Austen’s works, this one, in particular, touched her heart and sparked her imagination above the others. She was a chemist by profession, 23 years of age, single. She had no siblings, and lived with her parents. She loved to sing, enjoyed Broadway musicals, played the piano a little, and had a love for learning foreign languages. However, her single greatest pleasure was curling up in her room with a hot cup of tea reading P&P. Here she could escape into the world of Georgian England.
It was not that she was unhappy with her life, only that it was all so predictable. Her routine consisted of rising early, driving to work, and spending the rest of the day in a laboratory where she was a quality control chemist of personal care products. She enjoyed her work, to be sure, but the most excitement to be had was if a product was found to be out of specification.
Once a week, she spent an evening at church practicing with the choir for the Sunday service, but otherwise, she went straight home after work and helped her mom with dinner preparations. Suppers at the Prescott house were a time for the family to sit down together and catch up with the occurrences of the day. They would also discuss current events, as well as any upcoming family engagements.
“Your cousin, Ann Marie, is getting married,” Mrs. Prescott began.
“When?” Arianne asked.
“I don’t recall the exact date now, but it is at the end of November. Let me get the invitations.”
“The invitations? How many did we get?”
“Two, one for your father and me and one for you,” Mrs. Prescott answered.
“If it is in November,” interrupted Mr. Prescott, “I may have a conflict. You know I plan my weekend hunting trips in November and December.”
“Why on earth would I need a separate invitation for myself?” continued Arianne.
“I was mistaken. It’s on Saturday, November 8, Bill. And it’s not just for you, Arianne, it is for you and your guest,” answered Mrs. Prescott to husband and daughter at once.
“That’s just great!” father and daughter sarcastically sounded in unison.
Mr. Prescott so responded because he had to reschedule his hunting trip; his daughter, however, reacted out of the frustration of having no one special in her life.
Why couldn’t she find someone like Mr. Darcy? She had read and re-read Pride and Prejudice so many times, that she was sure to recognize him, if she ever saw him. Arianne was willing to overlook that cold, arrogant aloofness of his. She knew that hidden beneath that hard exterior was really a warm, kind, compassionate man of honor and integrity. She spent much of her leisure time researching life in his world of Georgian and Regency England, wondering what it would be like to live in that time period or meet the “real” Mr. Darcy. Reading Pride and Prejudice afforded her the closest opportunity of doing so.
It was on one such evening, as Arianne was in her room reading, that she looked up out her window and was surprised to see an unusually bright light dart from one end of the night sky to the other. She wondered if it was a shooting star ― she had never seen one of those before. What was it they said about shooting stars? Did they grant wishes?
She returned to her book and continued reading when she was startled by some rustling noises coming from her closet. Could it be mice? She quickly dismissed that idea as the noise was emanating from the top of the closet. A little frightened, and armed with a high-heeled shoe, she proceeded to the closet door. She gingerly opened it. Whose clothes were these?
“Who are you, pray?” a young woman’s voice exclaimed in the King’s English as she emerged from behind the dresses. “And how came you to be in my wardrobe?”
Arianne boldly gave her name, adamantly declaring to the young woman that this was HER closet, which was meant for HER clothes. Bewildered, the young lady stepped out of her wardrobe, through Arianne’s closet, and into Arianne’s bedroom.
“It would appear, Miss Prescott, that the door of your closet is the back of my wardrobe. But I am certain that it was not always so, for I have often times searched the back of the wardrobe for an errant ribbon or lace and have never observed this door before this day.”
Should she dare ask? Could it possibly be?
“Are you Miss Elizabeth Bennet?” asked Arianne hesitatingly.
Elizabeth curtseyed and said, “Forgive me, Miss Prescott, for not introducing myself straight away. Yes, I am Elizabeth Bennet. But how came you to know this?”
“Pinch me, Miss Bennet, because I must have fallen asleep reading my book and now I am dreaming of you. You are a fictional character in a book by Jane Austen called Pride and Prejudice. You are not an actual person.”
“Pinch me, Miss Prescott, and you will find me to be as legitimate as you are. Nevertheless, what place is this? Your speech is unfamiliar and your clothes … unusual. And what sort of candles are those that give such brilliant light with no flame?”
“You are in 21st century America, Miss Bennet. That is the answer to all your questions.”
Elizabeth went about the room awestruck, marveling at this and exclaiming over that. Arianne did her best to explain all these “wonders” ― her HDTV, cell phone, tablet ― in the “simplest” of terms possible, showing her the usage of each of them. However, Elizabeth was the most impressed with the tablet.
“Do you mean to suggest, Miss Prescott, that there are a multitude of books in this thin contrivance?”
“Absolutely, Miss Bennet, as well as music and videos.”
“Videos? What are videos?”
Arianne showed her a clip from Pride and Prejudice and then proceeded to display the e-book, itself. Elizabeth was quite fascinated at the turning of the pages.
She perused the book, shaking her head in disbelief.
“I know not how all these things have come to be, Miss Prescott, for truly, this evening I was in my wardrobe, looking for a suitable dress to wear to the dance at the assembly-room at Meryton, and now I find myself here with you. I am all astonishment!”
Just then, a voice from Elizabeth’s wardrobe called out to her.
“That is my sister, Jane. Wait here, Miss Prescott, I shall return directly.” As she walked toward the closet door, she looked back at Arianne and added, “And do keep the door open.”
Arianne could hear Elizabeth explaining to Jane that an inexplicable leap in time had opened in her wardrobe, and she was speaking to a young lady from the future. After this, she could no longer make out their conversation, as they must have moved further away from the door.
Arianne took this time to reflect. She had just been speaking with Elizabeth Bennet! There had to be a logical explanation for that, one that ― at the moment ― escaped her.
“I have a notion,” ventured Elizabeth after she returned. “Why do not we switch places? It is clear to me, that all this has come about because of your love of this story. I will write a note for you to give to my father. In it, I will tell him that I have been corresponding with you for some time, and we have hatched a scheme for me to visit America and stay in your home, and you to visit England and stay in mine. We can follow this arrangement for … a twelvemonth and then return to our proper places. You can write a similar note to your father. What think you of this, Miss Prescott?”
“How do you know we will be able to get back? This is not exactly within our control.”
“I do not know for certain, but whatever or whoever brought this about, means for us to exchange places ― there can simply be no two ways about it. I have already spoken of this to Jane. However, I have neither told her of the book nor that she is a character within it, and I think you would be in agreement with me on that head. I informed her only that you were familiar with our family events because they were of historical value to you.”
Elizabeth then pressed her once again, “Well, what say you, Miss Prescott, are you in agreement?”
Arianne took some time to think. She was a chemist ― accustomed to dealing with facts and figures. This whole situation was crazy. How could she even think of going along with this insanity? On the other hand, this was happening. Regardless of the nature of the anomaly that caused this, Elizabeth Bennet was sitting next to her. If she did not take this opportunity and seize this moment, she knew she would forever regret it.
“I will do it, Miss Bennet, but you must come downstairs with me to meet my parents. It will, I believe, be easier for them to accept the ‘reality’ of the situation if we explain it together.”
Angela Parisi - Menoutis is kindly offering a copy of her book to give away (paperback for US readers or ebook for international readers). What you have to do to get your chance to win is answering the following question:
In the canon of "Pride and Prejudice", where is there inferred evidence that Darcy, like Caroline Bingley, may have also wished his sister to marry Charles Bingley?
You must send your reply to the question to Angela Parisi - Menoutis via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. She will choose the best response andwill pick up the winner. The answers
should be sent by January 20th.