Much Ado about Much Ado

I am delighted to announce that my newest romance, Much Ado in Meryton, has been released!

I had so much fun writing this book. As much as I love Jane Austen, I love Shakespeare as well. His wit, inventiveness, and sheer snark are all but unequalled, and I could (and might) devote an entire article to his insults and come-backs. And so, when I first thought about writing a Pride and Prejudice / Much Ado About Nothing mash-up, it was no hardship at all for me to dive right in.

And what fun it was! I had read Shakespeare’s play several years ago, and have seen it performed on stage more recently, but I started my renewed exploration with a viewing of the fabulous 1993 movie. Kenneth Branagh, Emma Thompson, music by Patrick Doyle, that gorgeous Tuscan scenery… how could you go wrong? For all of Branagh’s foibles, he does theatre like this brilliantly, and this movie remains one of my favourites, just for the sheer beauty of it.

I then re-read the play, scribbling notes as I went, and indulged myself with a more modern take on the play, namely the BBC’s version for its ShakespeaRe-Told series from 2005.

This modern interpretation had some work to do, because parts of Shakespeare’s original plot – namely the storylines around Don John and Hero – don’t quite work in the modern world. This version is not perfect, but it did a really good job of recontextualizing elements of the play and it gave me a lot to think about.

Then, after one more read-through of the play and a pile of sticky notes, I started writing.

I know Pride and Prejudice really well and have read it and reread it so many times I feel I have plumbed a lot of its depths (although there is always something new in there, always something that other people discover that makes me say, “oh!”), but I really enjoyed an equally deep dive into the Shakespeare. Who were these people? Why did they react they way they did? What happened before the first scene that set Beatrice and Benedick off on their “merry war of words?” Why was Claudio both so keen to marry a girl he had hardly seen, but equally quick to distrust her even before he had said two words to her?

I do not have all of Shakespeare’s answers to these questions, but I created my own, and then set about adapting them to P&P. As I found with Teaching Eliza and Pygmalion, I was surprised at how well the two storylines fit together. There are clear echoes of Beatrice and Benedick in Lizzy and Darcy’s sparring, but I also discovered more than a thread connecting Jane and Bingley to Hero and Claudio.

Did I succeed? How will it all turn out? You will have to make up your own mind about that!

Much Ado in Meryton is now available in eBook and will soon be available in paperback at your favourite on-line bookseller.

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