An Upbeat and Updated Version of Pride and Prejudice for YA Readers
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
If you have not yet come across this series “Jane Austen in the 21st Century,” by Rosie Rushton, it is a collection of updated versions of Jane Austen’s novels geared towards the young adult audience. This is the fourth book in the series, yet it is the first one I read. Rosie Rushton started this series in 2005 with The Dashwood Sisters’ Secret of Love(Sense and Sensibility), in 2007Summer of Secrets (Northanger Abbey) was published, 2008 saw the publishing of Secret Schemes, Daring Dreams (Emma), Love, Lies, and Lizzie (Pride and Prejudice) was published in 2009, and due to come out in 2010 is Echoes of Love (Persuasion).
In Love, Lies, and Lizzie the Bennet’s have just inherited a fortune that allows Mrs. Bennet to finally purchase her dream house in Longbourn Oakes. She is anxious to live amongst the upper set and is delighted when neighbor, Mrs. Vanessa Bingley befriends her and invites the Bennets to an outdoor party. It is at this party that the Bennet girls meet Charlie and Caroline Bingley and their friend James Darcy. Charlie and Jane of course hit off right away, and as expected Lizzie overhears an unflattering remark about herself from James Darcy. From there the story follows many of the parallels of Pride and Prejudice: their father’s godson, Drew Collins, comes to stay with them for three weeks, Lizzie meets and falls for a sexy and charming George Wickham, the Bingleys and Darcy abruptly depart from Longbourn Oakes without saying goodbye…
Love, Lies, and Lizzie is a fairly accurate and cleverly modernized portrayal of Pride and Prejudice in the 21st Century. I loved how Meredith (Mary Bennet) is a die-hard environmentalist and Drew Collins (Mr. Collins) is the hotel manager protégé of the esteemed Katrina de Burgh (Lady Catherine) of De Burgh Hotels. Some characters I felt miss the mark a little though; Lizzie, who usually is portrayed as outspoken and impudent, seemed to continuously attack James Darcy over the same argument and not let it rest. I thought she was a little too belligerent and that she seemed to have lost her light-hearted and teasing manner. The character of Katrina de Burgh was a little off too; at first she seemed to be promoting a relationship between Lizzie and James, and then her confrontation with Lizzie at the end of the book was very weak and a little disappointing.
My other small complaint is that the book seemed to start leisurely and slow paced in Part One, yet Part Two (which is significantly shorter) was wrapped up rather quickly and not as fleshed out as the beginning. In addition, I wish that James Darcy and the romantic parts of the book could have received more page time, but I noticed the author trying to stress the theme of family more than the theme of love.
Overall, I thought Love, Lies, and Lizzie an entertaining and delightful read. These books are very suitable for introducing Jane Austen to a younger audience, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be enjoyed by adults!