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'Pride and Prejudice' and Wheaton: Community comes together for first ever 'Wheaton Reads' program

WHEATON – The classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” has seen an array of different treatments during its 200-year lifespan.

From the original Jane Austen text to Laurence Olivier to Keira Knightley to zombies, it has been interpreted many ways throughout the generations.

Yet the legacy of “Pride and Prejudice” remains. The Wheaton Public Library will celebrate Austen’s timelessness during October, by selecting her novel as the inaugural book for its “Wheaton Reads” community reading program.

“We discussed a lot of books trying to choose one,” said Carolyn DeAre, assistant director of the Wheaton Public Library. “We wanted a book we could do a lot of programming around and would appeal to a lot of people. And we think ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is a book worth talking about – why is this book read after 200 years?”

DeAre said she believes the story of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy holds up because of its universally appealing love, humor, satire and humanity.

“It might take a little bit to get past the language,” she said. “But once you get into the rhythm of it, it is about somebody getting off on the wrong foot and trying to get past it.”

DeAre said that the library hopes “Wheaton Reads” will become an annual program, allowing the community to share the experience of reading a book together. The Friends of the Library will donate 200 paperback copies of the book so that residents can pick up a free copy.

Additionally, the library is hosting a variety of events, book discussions and movie screenings, including a full English country dance, a tea party and a Jane Austen impersonator. DeAre said that she hopes the diversity of the events offered will draw readers young and old.

Wheaton Mayor Mike Gresk said he will make a formal announcement at the Oct. 7 City Council meeting declaring October “Wheaton Reads” month.

“I’ll repeat something Carolyn DeAre told me when we were talking – ‘Somebody will say ‘Oh, I already read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ back in 1969, I don’t need to read it again,’’” he said. “’The book hasn’t changed, but you have, one would hope.’ Isn’t that a wonderful way to look at it?”



In the Garden with Jane Austen
2 p.m. Oct. 6
An illustrated tour of English gardens.

The Art of Silhouette
7 p.m. Oct. 7
Silhouette artist Cassidy Alexander will demonstrate her craft, which was popular during Austen's era, and talk about its history.

Old Fezziwig's Band and English Country Dance
2 p.m. Oct. 13
An English country dance will teach the music and dance steps of the Austen era.

Tea Time with Chef Michael Maddox
7 p.m. Oct. 14
Learn how to make food for the "perfect tea party."

Talking Tea with Jane Austen
2 p.m. Oct. 20
Author Eileen Shafer, writer of "Royal Teas with Grace and Style," discusses proper tea etiquette and the history of tea time.

How Not to Write a Jane Austen-Inspired Novel
7 p.m. Oct. 23
Karen Doornebos, author of "Definitely Not Mr. Darcy" talks about her process in writing a book centered around Jane Austen's work.

Jane Austen Speaks
2 p.m. Nov. 3
Jane Austen impersonator Debra Miller speaks on the author's behalf about life in 1815.


Film Festival

7 p.m. Oct. 10
"Pride and Prejudice" (2005)
Free screening at Studio Movie Grill in Wheaton
Starring Keira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen

1 p.m. Oct. 15 / 7 p.m. Oct. 24
"Becoming Jane"
Anne Hathaway portrays a young Jane Austen

1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Oct. 17
"Bride and Prejudice"
The Bollywood version of the classic Austen tale

1 p.m. Oct. 24
"Pride and Prejudice" (1940)
Starring Greer Garson and Laurence Olivier


Book discussions

"Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen

Wheaton Public Library
10 a.m. Oct. 16
7 p.m. Oct. 22
12 p.m. Oct. 29 (guests encouraged to bring lunch)
7:30 p.m. Oct. 30

Wheaton Park District Leisure Center
2 p.m. Oct. 9

7 p.m. Oct. 21

"Definitely Not Mr. Darcy" by Karen Doornebos

Wheaton Public Library
7 p.m. Oct. 3
10 a.m. Oct. 8

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