Book Review: Prejudice & Pride
By: Lynn Messina
Published By: Potatoworks Press
Publication Date: December 15, 2015
Page Count: 238
Buy it at Amazon
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher
Audience: Adult - Chick Lit
I love classic literature and it’s cool when people want to put a modern spin on them, especially Austen’s work. Austenland (by Shannon Hale) had me laughing out loud. I adore the movies Clueless and the Bollywood film Bride and Prejudice. So when I got the opportunity to review Lynn Messina’s gender-bending modern version of Pride and Prejudice, I totally went for it.
Lynn has created new, but still related, names for the gender-swapped characters. Elizabeth Bennett is now Bennett Bethle. Fitzwilliam Darcy is now Darcy Fitzwilliam. (I think she lucked out a bit with characters whose names were cooperative.) Instead of Lydia visiting Brighton, England, we have Lydon visiting Brighton Beach in New York. Lynn also dispensed with the Charlotte Lucas subplot, though honestly I’m not sure why—it would have fit in just fine.
Every aspect of the original is carefully translated into 21st century New York City. Characters, who in the original might remark on the food, are now Instagramming their dinners. Where the original Darcy might have written letters, now she is emailing. Mr. Collins, the parson of the original story, is now Collin Parsons the gay nephew of Catherine deBourgh. Mrs. Bennett who was obsessed with suitors who had considerable money becomes Mr. Meryton who is constantly trying to find wealthy heiresses to donate funding for the Longbourn museum.
As far as the gender-bending went in Prejudice & Pride, I was impressed. I’ve read a couple of other gender-bent adaptations of novels with far less successful results. Lynn was able to change the genders of most of the characters and still stay true to the sentiments of the original novel. But she wasn’t a slave to the gender swapping; she tweaked things enough for it to make sense without emasculating the male characters or making the now-powerful women too mannish.
The only thing that I didn’t care for was the narration. The style of narration throughout the novel was more telling what was happening than showing it, and it had a very 18th century vibe, which felt a bit disjointed. I’m curious why Lynn made this choice after so carefully updating everything else.
Prejudice & Pride is a clever update of the beloved classic that deserves your time. Lynn’s retelling will have you laughing with the Bethle brothers, cringing at Mr. Meryton, and marveling at the author’s creativity in transforming an early 19th century story into a modern novel.
You know Darcy: rich, proud, standoffish, disapproving, one of the greatest romantic heroes of all time. But you don't know this Darcy because THIS Darcy is a woman.
In PREJUDICE & PRIDE, Lynn Messina’s modern retelling with a gender-bendy twist, everything is vaguely familiar and yet wholly new. Bingley is here, in the form of Charlotte "Bingley" Bingston, an heiress staying at the Netherfield hotel on Central Park, as is Longbourn, transformed from an ancestral home into a perennially cash-strapped art museum on the edge of the city. Naturally, it employs an audacious fundraiser with an amused glint in his eye called Bennet.
All the favorite characters are present and cleverly updated: Providing the cringe-worthy bon mots is Mr. Meryton, the nerve-wracked executive director of the Longbourn who’s always on the lookout for heiresses to join his museum’s very important committees. (Universally acknowledged truth: Any woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a social committee to chair.) Collin Parsons is still in obsequious, if ironic, awe of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The wicked Georgia Wickham toils as a graphic designer at Redcoat Design by day and schemes against Darcy by night.
With her trademark wit and style, Lynn Messina takes the genres she does best—chick lit, mashups, and Regency romance—and weaves them into one delightfully entertaining tale that doubles as a fun guessing game.