Flirting with Pride and Prejudice: Fresh Perspectives on the Original Chick-Lit Masterpiece - Glenn Yeffeth, Jennifer Crusie This marks the first (and hopefully only) time I have used the words “Pride and Prejudice” and “disappointment” in the same sentence.

Everything started off well enough when I first opened Flirting with Pride and Prejudice. The first few essays are entertaining, if not elucidating; I learned a little about how P&P reflects modern relationships, and how self-professed chick-lit writers see their work in the grand scheme of things. It is perhaps telling (more about me than about the quality of the collection) that my favorite essay was rooted more in the actual history of the novel than about how P&P is some sort of dummies’ how-to guide about girlie books.

There’s too much cute, there’s too little thought. I know this is supposed to be a simple collection of “dishy” essays about the “original chick-lit masterpiece” (just that subtitle alone almost made me put it back on the library shelf, and I kind of wish I had) and granted, “Jane Austen and the Masturbating Critic” was entertaining (and not like that), and “The Gold-Diggers of 1813” was interesting, but the majority are throw-away little bits of fluff.

The essays are divided into sections, like “Jane and the Movies” and “Jane and Academe,” which are all pretty self-explanatory and occasionally have interesting ideas to posit. Like the idea that the lower gentry of Austen’s novels deal with “high class problems,” much like chick-lit heroines, which is an interesting perspective and not unfair to either Austen or chick-lit. But there’s just not enough of this.

Ok, now I’ve said that I’m pretty lukewarm on the first half or so of the book (at least, I hope that’s what I said), but then we get to “Jane’s Untold Stories.” Ick. I know there is a thriving market for Jane Austen sequels and rehashes, but I am not the target audience; I have never read one I liked, as no one can capture the ironic tone that Austen so clearly masters. So, I was less than thrilled when I realized there was a whole section devoted to telling the “untold stories” of minor characters. I read one or two and then skipped the rest of the section (maybe I missed some gem of literary genius, but I’m not interested enough to find out) For example: Mary Bennet as the passionate secret lover of an Irish footman?? You’ve got to be shitting me.

The concluding sections are about on par with the beginning, so no new discoveries there.

I don’t absolutely HATE this book, but it’s a lousy start to my 2012 reading (although I technically started it in 2011). I need to find something better to be the first “officially” read book of the year, and wash this disappointment away.