Austen Spinoffs: Pride and Prejudice in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen

Pride and Prejudice in Boca by Paula Marantz Cohen, released in 2003, is one of the most interesting retellings of Pride and Prejudice that I have ever read. In this story, it's not every daughter that needs to find a husband, but every widow and widower. The story is set in Boca in Florida among Jewish senior citizens. Some are still with their husbands and wives; others have been left alone. And all of them are gossipers. This story is intricately written, and the dynamics of Lizzie, Darcy, Jane and Bingley are transferred to the world of Jewish senior citizens in a surprisingly smooth, and hilarious, way. Flo, our protagonist, and her closest friend May, spend their time with their other friends at their mid-class senior village. May's daughter, the meddling Carol, takes on the role of Mrs. Bennett, and tries to find May a new, well-to-do husband in Boca. She arranges the meeting of May and Norman Grafstein, a rich man living in the upper-class area of the Bocas, and the story progresses from here. My favorite aspect of this retelling was the way that Cohen represented Flo (Elizabeth's) wit in comparison to her friends. Her and Darcy are sharp--sharper than the other seniors--and you can see their pride and prejudices matching each other. She takes care to be kind to her friends, but has no problem with lashing out at others, a trait that May, like Jane would have, reprimands kindly. Mr. Darcy, named Stan in this version, is an English professor teaching an Austen course at a nearby university who recently lost his wife. The incorporation of Jewish values and words throughout the novel by Cohen really made her world a cohesive creation. Not only were May, Carol and more Jewish, but they acted Jewish, nagging their children about all the proper things, and getting frustrated over the youths inability to follow their example. Cohen must have done extensive research, or is Jewish herself, because the details were not force, but felt very natural to the story. If a group of Jewish, senior women looking for husbands in Florida, in the plot of Jane Austen's creation and Cohen's modification doesn't sound amusing to you, well, we must have different comedic taste.

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