Jane Austen Meets The Wizard of Oz
Rating: 3 out of 5 stars
TYPE OF AUSTENESQUE NOVEL: Young Adult, Austen-Inspired,
TIME FRAME: Modern-day
MAIN CHARACTERS: Callie, Alex the Duke of Harksbury, Emily Thornton-Hawke, the Dowager Duchess
The premise of a modern teenage girl traveling back in time to 1815 and meeting an arrogant duke sounded interesting and diverting.
The Parallels to Pride and Prejudice: This book is not intended to be a modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice. However, there are many common themes and subtle nods to Jane Austen and her characters such as: an arrogant and reserved hero, a heroine who suffers several misunderstandings, and a distinct social divide between them. As always, I enjoy searching for these small allusions to Pride and Prejudice, yet given the title I thought we might see some more.
The Parallels to The Wizard of Oz: Callie is kind of like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, she owns a pair of red shoes (brand-new Prada pumps), she hit her head, and she somehow woke up in a strange land…or in this case a strange time period – 1815. And similar to Dorothy, Callie doesn’t know how or why she arrived in this strange time period or how to get home!
The Conflict: Not only is Callie stuck in 1815 with the inability to return home, she has accidentally misled everyone into thinking she is their friend “Rebecca” (who is due to visit in four weeks) arrived early. Callie knows it is only a matter of time before the real Rebecca arrives and her lies are exposed! Having Callie mistakenly assume another person’s identity added a little bit more intensity to her predicament and I enjoyed the heightened drama and urgency it brought to the story.
Emily: The Duke’s cousin (who thinks Callie is her long-time friend, Rebecca) reminded me a little of Eleanor Tilney, in that she is the girl everyone wants to have as a best friend. Emily is sweet natured, earnest, and has a somewhat domineering patriarch. I found her to be a very likable and engaging character.
The Callie and Alex Relationship: I know! It’s a Darcy and Elizabeth relationship – mistaken pride, misunderstandings, verbal swordplay…I should love it! But alas, I did not. I guess my main issue with it is I didn’t find the romance between them to be believable. It felt like the Duke suffered from a little bit of “insta-love” and with Callie’s petulant attitude and eagerness to assume the worse in him, I do not understand what brought on his feelings for her. In fact, I found her to be a little bit unlikable and frustrating. Perhaps he is going through a rebellious stage? Choosing an untitled and outspoken American that will infuriate his mother?
Inexplicable Time Travel: I don’t mind suspending my disbelief or believing in magic, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that we never learned the how and the why of Callie’s time travel. Moreover, it kind of left the ending feeling a little unresolved.
Despite my one or two quibbles, I found Prada and Prejudice to be a fun, whimsical, and lighthearted read! It may not be my favorite Young Adult Austenesque novel, but it is a good clean novel that is perfectly suitable for young teen readers!
4 out of 30 completed!