Jan 152016
 

Prejudice and Pride2The Heiress and The Museum Fundraiser

Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Source: Review Copy from Publisher

TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Modern-day Retelling, Gender Swap

SETTING: New York City, Present-day

MAIN CHARACTERS:

  • John and Bennet Bethle: Two brothers who work in the development department at the Longbourn Collection (a small art museum in Queens)
  • Charlotte “Bingley’ Bingston: A socialite heiress who has just rented the penthouse at the illustrious Netherfield hotel
  • Darcy Fitzwilliam: Bingley’s wealthy but proud friend
  • Mr. Meryton: John and Bennet’s boss who falls over himself to court donors and is often in a tizzy over the prospect of receiving donations and connections from the wealthy upper-crust

WHY I WANTED TO READ THIS NOVEL:

  • I’ve read and enjoyed two other Pride and Prejudice retellings that are gender swap – Vanity and Vexation and Love at First Slight, and wanted to try another!
  • Lynn Messina is a new author for me and I love stories that take place in New York City!

WHAT I LOVED:

  • 😉 I See What You Did There: I loved seeing the parallels between this story and Pride and Prejudice, many were very well thought-out and creative. Such as our two heroes work in a small, “out-of-the-way” art museum in need of funding. Having such “middle class” professions that were dependent on the generosity and support of the wealthy created the same stigma and lack of consequence as being two daughters without impressive dowries and connections in Jane Austen’s day.  I also loved the brilliant wordplay around Redcoat Designs and the descriptions of Celia’s tennis game.
  • Mr. Meryton: One of my favorite gender-swaps is Mr. Meryton (Mrs. Bennet). His garrulousness, knowledge of patrons’ net worth, and adulation of the wealthy were spot-on representations of Mrs. Bennet. What a brilliant choice! Instead of hunting wealthy gentleman to marry her daughters, Mr. Meryton is chasing wealthy heiresses to write checks for his museum.
  • Collin Parsons: Lolzzzzz! This character did not receive a gender-swap, but he did receive a personality swap. Collin is Catherine de Bourgh’s (apparently she refused to swap genders) gay nephew. Instead of a sycophant oozing obsequiousness, he is a sarcastic trust fund baby who has no choice but to follow his aunt’s orders because she administers his trust. It was hilarious to know that his veneration and flattery were more ironic than sincere.

WHAT I WASN’T TOO FOND OF:

  • Some Speeches Fit, Some Don’t: As one often sees in retellings, there are phrases and sentences borrowed from Jane Austen’s original text. I have no issues with authors doing this – it is always a fun diversion to play “spot the Jane Austen quote!” I thought there were several great instances where Ms. Messina borrowed or played with text from Pride and Prejudice – one of my favorites being: “Any young woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a committee to chair.” However, some uses of Jane Austen’s text, like during the declaration and refusal, felt a little out of place and unnatural.
  • Not Quite Men of Action: What does John do when Bingley goes to London? Nothing. What does Bennet do after receiving Darcy’s email? Nothing. While Jane and Elizabeth, restricted by their gender and the society of their day, could not pursue or initiate contact with Bingley and Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, the same limitations don’t really exist for John and Bennet. So when they both didn’t make any contact with the women they were interested in it felt a weak, passive, and was a bit of a turn-off. (Yes, making contact might be awkward, but c’mon…be a man!)

NOTE:  There is some (2-3) uses of strong language, so I’d recommend this book for Mature Audiences.

CONCLUSION:

Written with skill and creativity, this novel was a very diverting and unique read! Gender-swapping characters that lived two hundred years ago is definitely not an easy task and I thought Lynn Messina did a marvelous job navigating these complicated waters and delivering a story that is plausible, entertaining, and inventive.

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  16 Responses to “Prejudice and Pride – Lynn Messina”

  1.  

    This sounds like an entertaining read! I even like the cover!

  2.  

    I have seen this book and I couldn’t decide whether to put it on my wish list or not. I really prefer my Darcy to be male!! But after reading your review I will think about it a bit more. Thanks Meredith

  3.  

    Hi Meredith, great review! I was lucky enough to win an e-book of this so I have it ready to read. I like the idea of a gender swap version, having read a historical one I am interested to read a contemporary one. I have Vanity and Vexation on my wish list but I didn’t realise that was gender swap too.

    •  

      Oh! I look forward to seeing your thoughts, Ceri! The author did a good job preserving the distinction of rank in this book, I thought it felt very plausible.

  4.  

    Thank you for your honest review…interesting.

  5.  

    I too enjoy books that take place in New York City. The premise of this book is different and I have yet to read one that is a gender swap. The characters of Mr. Meryton and Collin Parsons sound quite hilarious. I have this book on my wishlist and I appreciate having your excellent review of it.

    •  

      I think it is quite amazing that my two favorite characters in this tale are Mr. Meryton and Collins Parsons! LOL! I love being taken to NYC anytime, it was very diverting and interesting to be hanging around the art museum crowd!

  6.  

    Sounds interesting! I always like to see how modern adaptors create parallels to the characters and situations of the original. Great line from your review about Lady Catherine: “apparently she refused to swap genders.” I gave a very unladylike snort!

    •  

      Me too, Abigail! And in this case the parallels need to have a little bit of a twist to them to make it work for the gender swap. It was very creative! LOL! I’m glad I made you laugh – I thought it an appropriate explanation of why she wasn’t Mr. de Bourgh or something! 😉

  7.  

    I enjoyed this as a good comedic modern adaption. Colin had to be my favorite character if not baby brother Lydon.

  8.  

    I’ve had problems in the past following gender swap adaptions, but it’s worth the effort for a good story. I have to create a cheat-sheet with the character in the story and who they are swapped with in the original. I suppose it’s a good workout for my 70-year-old brain.
    Good review, Meredith. I, too, love books and especially movies taking place in New York City. I’ve visited twice as a chaperon for my daughter’s drama students. Quite the experience!

    •  

      It is a little tricky to follow in situations like this – I think helps when the author uses names that are similar like John/Jane Fitzwilliam Darcy/Darcy Fitzqilliam. 🙂 Thanks for checking out my review! NYC is the best, isn’t it? We love to visit!

    •  

      Cat, you and I are the same age. And you visited NYC with your daughter so you must live in the tri-state area. I live in the Lehgh Valley in PA. So nice to read things about other readers with which I can connect. What were the drama students going to see?

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