Author:Angela Parisi-Menoutis

Publisher:Amazon Digital Services


Published in 1813, Jane Austen’s novel, Pride and Prejudice, has long been a fertile and durable source material for an extraordinary number of other artistic creations from feature films, at least three, TV miniseries, at least two, and other works. Perhaps no greater evidence of the novel’s popularity is that it, along with Treasure Island and Aesop’s Fables, came preloaded on my Kindle application from Amazon. The enduring popularity of the work would seem to lie in its potent theme that happiness is more a product of character than circumstance. That this theme is expressed in Georgian prose of the highest quality hardly hurts.

Although the language, settings, costumes, and other elements of the original novel have been previously modified and manipulated to a fare thee well, I would venture to say that no work has been as bold as this book by Angela Parisi-Menoutis. Here, with a pluckiness most successfully portrayed by Greer Garson in the 1940 film version of the book, the author actually kidnaps the character of Elizabeth Bennet and in meager exchange offers her own existence in modern-day Somerset, New Jersey. This time warp transfer transpires within a bedroom wardrobe, which gives entirely new meaning to “coming out of the closet.”

If all of this sounds vaguely familiar, you may be thinking of the 2006 film, The Holiday, when two women, one English and one American, exchange houses, but not identities, for the Christmas holidays. With almost mathematical equality, The Holiday portrays the experiences of each woman in her foreign environment.

Expect no such fair and balanced approach in Ms. Parisi-Menoutis’s book. Elizabeth Bennet’s life in the U.S. is given short shrift, while Ms. Parisi-Menoutis’s alter ego, Arianne Prescott, of the Somerset New Jersey Prescotts, envelopes herself completely and deeply into the times and tribulations of 19th century England, with which she is obviously besotted.

The skill with which Ms. Parisi-Menoutis captures the cadence, vocabulary, syntax, and arch style of the original novel is remarkable. At times it is difficult to believe that the original text is not being repeated rather than reworked. At other times, for example the classic confrontation between Lady Catherine (a/k/a Lady Bracknell from Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest) and Elizabeth, the reader almost wishes that Ms. Parisi-Menoutis had adhered more closely to the original rather than presenting a rather anemic confrontation, which all caps and an exclamation point do little to rescue: “IT HAS NOT!”

One certainly does not need to be a Janeite to enjoy Ms. Parisi-Meoutis’s remarkable book. Many have taken a big piece out of Pride and Prejudice. Two Different Worlds is a juicy and highly satisfying bite.

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