Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Publisher
It is a new and exciting season at Ballet Theater of New York – Elizabeth Bennet is starting out in her newly acquired position as a corps de ballet dancer, her sister Jane Bennet is in a budding relationship with the Associate Artistic Director of BTNY Charles Bingley, and the famed prodigal son of BTNY, William Darcy, is returning this season to choreograph a new ballet. While happy to be cast in the illustrious William Darcy’s ballet, Elizabeth Bennet bristles at his practice of barking corrections at her and his cold and callous treatment to all of the dancers in general.
And at first glance, William Darcy notices everything that is technically wrong with Elizabeth Bennet – her height, her curves, her bad habits in regards to hip alignment and heels, yet he soon finds himself captivated by her passionate and expressive movements. Can William Darcy maintain his distance and “self-imposed hands-off policy” when the impertinent and defiant Elizabeth Bennet starts inspiring his choreography and invading his thoughts???
Pride and Prejudice taking place in a ballet company? What a completely brilliant and original concept!! As movies and shows like Center Stage, Black Swan, and Breaking Pointe illustrate, ballet companies are filled with emotion, hierarchy, politics, contention, and relationship drama. I applaud Jessica Evans for creating a believable and contemporary world parallel to Pride and Prejudice in the structure of a professional ballet company. It worked extremely well and I loved how she cunningly and creatively casted each character in this retelling – Caroline as the prima ballerina (yes), Charles as the gregarious, kind-to-everyone artistic director (again, yes), Catherine Boroughs as the wealthy patron who uses her power and money to get her way (umm…definitely yes!) I also loved how the small-role characters like Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Reynolds, and Sir William Lucas were cleverly updated and employed.
As you may guess by my backlog of reviews, I love me some modern retellings of Jane Austen novels. 🙂 I love the inventive premises authors create in modern world, and I love meeting modern-day Elizabeths and Darcys (which always help validate the fact that Jane Austen’s characters and plots are universal and timeless.) I greatly enjoyed our modern-day Lizzy in this tale – she had spirit and fire. But I also loved that she had a vulnerable and insecure side that wasn’t so hidden beneath the surface. Some may not like her insecurities and jealousies, but I think in this particular setting and profession they make a lot of sense. In addition, greatly enjoyed seeing her drive and determination to improve her technique, advance in the company, and achieve her goals.
Likewise, I greatly enjoyed this elitist, perfectionist dancer version of Darcy – a famous dancer turned choreographer facing some choreographer’s block, finding an unlikely and unexpected muse, and discovering how his actions and behavior are perceived by others. I only wish there was a little bit more…more about Darcy’s past, more about his decision not to drink, his knee injury, and his time working in Miami. (More of dancer Darcy in tights, please!)
Filled with passion, sparks, and arrestingly beautiful choreography, this evocative and passionate modern-day retelling of Pride and Prejudice is definitely on pointe! Take a bow, Jessica Evans! This is one magnificent debut!
Warning: Due to a few intimate scenes (not very explicit) and uses of strong language, I’d recommend this novel for Mature Audiences.