Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
Cheryl Cory’s debut novel begins with our heroine, Sylvie O’ Rourke, fearing for her life as the plane she is on experiences extreme turbulence. Anxious and desperate, she makes a bargain with God to land the plane safely and she in turn will devote one year of her life to doing “something good.” During the turbulence, it dawns on Sylvie that she has yet to do something worthwhile or useful with her life, and that motivates her to make good on her end of the bargain and teach 10th grade English…
Sylvie O’ Rourke is a simple, romantic heroine that desires to be cherished and loved unconditionally. She admires the romance between Maria and Captain von Trapp from The Sound of Music, and the great love-story of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Pride and Prejudice. Sylvie is delightful, inspiring, and easy to identify with. I enjoyed her experiences and observations as a first-year teacher, as they mirrored some of my own and were quite true. She learns, very quickly, the pleasures and the pains of what it is to be a teacher. In addition, I enjoyed her in-depth class discussions and compassion she has for her students. Sylvie is a heroine anyone can admire and relate to.
The cast of characters found in this novel are unique, well-established, and brimming with personality. Sylvie’s two sisters and roommates, Kate and Meg, are lovable and amusing with their snack food rituals and witty banters. Elise and Ben, fellow first-year teachers at Sylvie’s school, are flirtatious and stir up a little bit a drama in the English department. Evan Danes, a fellow English teacher, makes a terrible first impression on Sylvie by requesting not to be her mentor. Sylvie feels offended and upset with Evan’s judgment and prejudice, yet she can’t help but admit that he is very easy on the eyes. . . (Evan’s unwillingness to work with Sylvie sounds a lot like Darcy’s unwillingness to dance with Elizabeth at the Meryton Assembly, doesn’t it?) However, it is not just this incident alone that causes Sylvie to dislike Evan, Sylvie perceives his contempt for her and she believes Ben’s malicious tale about Evan being an heartless womanizer. As the school year progresses, Sylvie notices that some of her colleagues have a romantic interest in each other, and she resolves to not become involved in any type of romance (especially at work) since she is devoting this year to doing something good. Despite her honorable efforts to remain single, Sylvie finds herself entwined in the drama and romance at work nonetheless.
This story is not a strict Pride and Prejudice modern adaptation because it does not follow the plot sequence exclusively or include all the characters from Pride and Prejudice. However, there are many parallels and similarities between the relationships of Sylvie/Evan and Elizabeth/Darcy. Furthermore, other characters resemble and share personality traits with Mr. Wickham, Mr. Bingley, and Caroline Bingley and many lines and references to The Sound of Music are peppered throughout the book.
I greatly enjoyed my experience reading this engaging debut novel by Cheryl Cory. I loved her stimulating and sparkling style, relaxed tone, endearing characters. It is a refreshing and original take on Pride and Prejudice, and it is a rarity to find a modern chic-lit book that is wholesome and without profanity or low morals. I emphatically recommend this book to any first-year teacher, Pride and Prejudice fan, or Sound of Music fan!