This is slightly off topic by nature of the fact that it’s a video as opposed to a book. But it’s fun! I first heard about Furst Impressions at a recent JASNA meeting, in conversation with author Lauren Willig, who had been speaking about Jane Austen’s afterlife in the publishing world. After nearly having a heart attack, thinking that she was about to give the same talk I was planning (she didn’t–phew!) I was eager to discuss with her my ideas in reference to adaptions for children and young adults. She mentioned Wishbone, a series I am familiar with because we have several book tie-ins at work, even though I had never actually watched it.
Unlike the Pride and Prejudice board book, which purports to be for children, this is an adaptation which genuinely attempts to reach its audience, not just wink slyly at the parents. The episode is not so much an adaptation as an attempt to highlight the plot elements which would have some relevance to middle school readers. This is illustrated by the story line involving Wishbone’s human friends, which is interwoven with his retelling of Austen’s story. Think of it as Pride and Prejudice as an After School Special, with life lessons on the importance about not judging others by their clothes, the pitfalls of listening to gossip, and the importance of a heart-felt apology.
Watching the Jack Russell Terrier Wishbone take on the role of Fitzwilliam Darcy is slightly unsettling (although his posh English accent is cute.) He’s more likely to dig up the grounds of Pemberley than preserve it. Still, if you watch the episode you will be treated to a rather good plot summary, some fine dancing scenes, multiple props for your local library, and an OTT performance by Jeanne Simpson, who plays Caroline Bingley. She really lets those Regency niceties go and plays Caroline Bingley as if she were the biggest middle school meanie around.