Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
In a most loverly debut, Riana Everly presents a delightful mash-up of Pride and Prejudice with George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion (which inspired the musical My Fair Lady.) In this clever composition, not only is Mr. Darcy a wealthy master of an estate, but also a renowned professor of phonetics and linguistics who tutors many pupils aspiring to better their situations. While seeking some much desired peace at his friend’s newly leased estate, Professor Darcy receives an unusual request from a country miss who wishes to take lessons to improve her accent and manners. Professor Darcy is not at all inclined to acquiesce to this young lady’s request – especially since he knows she is unable to afford the costs of his services, but his cousin, the good Colonel Fitzwilliam, comes up with an alternative means of payment that promises to be quite beneficial to all involved…
Because she has the precious opportunity to spend the London season as the guest of her aunt’s sister (and has recently been made aware how her countrified accent and manners are disdained), Elizabeth puts up with the Professor’s tyrannical and offending ways to ensure her success. However, Elizabeth is not one to take the Professor’s lack of civility and courtesy sitting down. If she is to spend all this time with the man he must treat her with respect according to her station! Can this rude and selfish Professor help Elizabeth with her goals? Can she tolerate his tempestuous manners to uphold her end of the deal? What happens when feelings start to emerge in this purely business agreement…
What an inventive idea! I have adored My Fair Lady since my childhood and could probably recite the movie by heart. You can imagine my anticipation when I discovered that Ms. Everly was writing a story that combined that beloved classic with Pride and Prejudice! I so loved finding all the clever ways Ms. Everly integrated these two stories. Her tale isn’t an exact rewrite of either, but rather a wonderfully balanced blend that is refreshing and unpredictable. It was lovely to see some quotes and scenes I recognize from both works peppered throughout the tale, and I loved how Ms. Everly often inserted a quote or exchange in a surprising and yet fitting new way. Even though I am familiar with both stories, this mash-up kept me on my toes.
In addition, I loved how Ms. Everly skillfully and satisfyingly blended characters traits together from Pride and Prejudice and Pygmalion. Professor Darcy was a little more boorish than we are used to seeing him, but that is the Henry Higgins part of his character, and I thought it worked well in this setting. I loved that Colonel Fitzwilliam was Colonel Pickering, with his gentle civility and friendly manners; and it was such a fun surprise to see who takes on the role of Freddy in this tale! Not only was it interesting to see these blended characters in their new roles, but to also see the new things that happened with them. I think readers will appreciate what happens with Colonel Fitzwilliam and take fiendish delight in what befalls George Wickham!!
I really enjoyed seeing the many facets to Darcy’s complex character in this tale and the progression of his relationship with Elizabeth. Some of my favorite moments are when he surprises her with his gentleness and consideration. I also thought it was adorable how he would become jealous of Freddy. Just like with Henry Higgins and Eliza Doolittle, my heart would swoon to see those rare moments when both seem to feel something more for each other, but don’t yet act on it. I thought Ms. Everly displayed the beginning transformations of Darcy’s and Elizabeth’s feelings for each other beautifully. However, I would have loved a little more emotional development and introspection in the second half of the story. Both seem to make some profound realizations rather quickly.
With her thoughtful and skillfully-crafted debut release, Riana Everly has created a most engaging and entertaining tale that is sure to charm ardent fans of Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice, and Pygmalion. With a fierce battles of wills, sweet moments of tenderness, decadent descriptions of fashions and scenery, and a most unconventional pact, I found myself utterly enchanted with Teaching Eliza. I highly recommend!