Manga Classics: Pride and Prejudice, story adapted by Stacy King, art work by Po Tse

I must admit that Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin is one of my favorite books, so I approached this Manga with both dread and delight. While the basic plot of unrequited love, both lost and found, appeals to my romantic side, it is Austin’s way with words, through her descriptions and dialogue, which brings a smile to my lips. Although the story adaptor, Stacy King, tried to capture this essence in her Manga, even, on occasion, using some of Austin’s own dialogue, it fell short of the original. Of course, I’m holding this abbreviated version of the novel to a very high standard. If I take away my bias, I have to admit this Manga presents an appealing story. Our heroine, Elizabeth Bennett is the second daughter in a family of five girls. When Mr. Charles Bingley arrives in town, this wealthy gentleman falls in love with the beautiful eldest daughter Jane. Despite Bingley’s kindly attentions, his best friend, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, seems rude and standoffish, insulting Elizabeth. When the two men permanently leave town, Jane’s heart is broken. Both sisters spend time away from home visiting friends and family. It is on one of these visits that Darcy proclaims he can’t help loving Elizabeth despite her inadequacies. Elizabeth spurns his marriage proposal, especially when she discovers that it was his fault that Jane had been hurt by Bingley. However, all is not as it seems and through a series of misadventures, in the end, there is a satisfying resolution to all their problems. In spite of my criticisms, Stacy King was able to include the major aspects of the original novel, creating an easy-to-follow version for the reader’s enjoyment.

I did have a few problems with the illustrations by Po Tse. While some of the character’s portrayals accurately reflected their personalities, others distracted from the story. I thought the young women were, for the most part, beautifully drawn. Bingley and Wickham, two of the major male characters were also shown to advantage, However, the hero, Darcy, was too angular and sharp in his features. In trying to visually portray his haughtiness, some of the hidden aspects of his personality were lost. I also didn’t feel the father’s caricature accurately captured his humorous side, but instead made him appear too stern. Yet, Mrs Bennett, was the perfect representative of a frivolous mother, while Lady Catherine de Bourgh’s looks matched her overbearing personality. The illustration of the bootlicking, pompous cousin, Mr Collins, was off putting and did not fit in with the other drawings. I did like the way the numerous characters were labeled or referred to in the “dialogue” so the reader was not confused when figuring out who was who. So, for the most part, the intricate, detailed art work of Po was used to enhance the story.

Many teens find literature from the 1800s cumbersome to read, but might be willing to latch on to a condensed version of the classics from that time period. Who knows, they might even decide to pick up some Austin on their own after reading this Manga version. (Or more probable, read the Manga when assigned this novel in their High School English Literature class.) Three and a half stars and a thank you to Udon Entertainment and Netgalley for providing me this free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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