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Pride and Platypus : Mr. Darcy's Dreadful Secret by Jane Austen and Vera Nazarian

01/08/2012. Contributed by Sue Davies

Buy Pride and Platypus : Mr. Darcy's Dreadful Secret in the USA - or Buy Pride and Platypus : Mr. Darcy's Dreadful Secret in the UK

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pub: Curiosities/Norilana Books. 500 page small enlarged paperback. Price: 16.95 (UK), $16.95 (US). ISBN: 978-1-60762-078-5).

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It's a fact that a man in possession of a cage, handcuffs and an annual income of 10000 a year shall have no problem securing a wife or at least an article in the tabloids.

In 'Pride And Platypus', we find that every man does possess a cage because, from puberty, they are subject to monthly attacks from their own personal demon. In a neat reversal of women's condition, here it is men who must be confined when the moon rises lest they decide to shred their nearest and dearest.

Picture the scene when the lionish Mr. Bennett meets Mr. Bingley, soon to be suitor of his eldest daughter, Jane. Imagine the prowling and sniffing that might take place. As the Bingleys move into Netherfield Hall, Mrs. Bennett goes into raptures over the quality of the cages and the chance of a tigerish son-in-law but then Mr. Darcy arrives. His mysterious looming presence and the mystery surrounding the nature of his 'beast' is intriguing. Proving to be obnoxious, he is not pursued and the charms of the wolfish Mr. Wickham are considered by the Bennett's younger daughter, Elizabeth.

When their cousin Reverend Collins arrives with his own lavish cage that must be placed outside near the barn, Elizabeth is subjected to an unwelcome marriage proposal and the Bennett family discover the unusual nature of his monthly animal.

Darcy finds himself drawn to Elizabeth but his attraction is tempered by his reaction to her crude and social climbing mother and unruly coarse sisters. He is also constrained by the nature of his beastly shame.

With the rise of the comet in the sky which enhances the Moon's power and causes unwelcome transformations even during the day, normal society is almost suspended and everyone gets a little hot under the collar.

With secrets, lies and the occasional nip, the story unfolds in much the same way as the original 'Pride And Prejudice' with the addition of everyone going animal quackers.

'Pride And Platypus' also gives us the Brighton Duck to consider; a sort of duck ex machina who has the habit of appearing at crucial plot points and the footnotes which veer off into insanity on frequent occasions. There is quite a lot going on here to entertain and it certainly makes you consider the original novel in a new way.

I raced through this book, familiar with the original, I found it very entertaining. It maintains our affections for the main players whilst introducing sound reasons for our dislike of the supporting characters who try to bring our beloved characters down to the animal level. It won't be to everyone's taste but if you enjoy a literary joke there is enough variety in this to ensure you won't feel it is a one-note piece.

Sue Davies

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