Mar 302015

The MusePride and Pas de Deux

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.

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  19 Responses to “The Muse – Jessica Evans”


    I have read alot ( ie way way too much JAFF) and all the rave reviews for this book are confusing to me. The plot concept was fun but I was very put off by the huge age gap between this Darcy and Elizabeth. I also must be one of the few who missed the magic between the 2 characters. It all just seemed too neat and tidy and force fitted into the E and D story line. I try very hard to not write anything negative (the old only say nice things policy) but all these positive reviews have me flabergasted.


      I’ve had a time or two where I’ve felt the same way regarding my thoughts and others on a particular book. I’m sorry this one wasn’t your cup of tea, Theresa.


    I just reread The Muse for the second time, and loved it just as much if not more. The dynamics of the relationships brought into the modern world worked really well for me. The new characters were clever, especially Lizzy’s Auntie from the Afro-centric dance class. And the ballet environment was great fun as the backdrop of those dynamics. I’m very picky about modern P&P variations I choose to read, and I happily recommend this one.


    I was not a fan of modern variations but in the past few months a number have been recommended to me by people I trust. This was one: thank you, Anji. I loved it and will, at some time, re-read it.

    Excellent review, Meredith. We can always trust you also.


      Great rec, Anji! I’ve always loved modern adaptations, back when Is started reading JAFF there wasn’t the onslaught of variations like there is now – it was mostly sequels and modern-day retellings. There have been some really creative and inspiring contemporary reads, like this one!


    What a beautiful version! It seems very promising. I like too the stories involving dance. It is ideal for my wishlist 😉


      I love it when authors take you into a world or profession like this – whether it is cooking, dancing, music, construction. I always find it interesting! Hope you get the chance to read this soon, Teresa!


    Love your review Meredith! I love modern adaptation of P&P. It’s amazing how authors have weaved the story line into modern day occupations that make sense and makes you love Darcy and Elizabeth even more!

    Looking forward to reading this novel!


    Lovely review, Meredith. I just ordered this one and I am so excited to read it!!


    As Sheila said, I did recommend this one to her, having enjoyed it so much myself. The heirachy of the ballet company is such a good parallel to Regency society. Caroline Bingley as the prima ballerina was particularly apt. Although I didn’t understand many of the ballet terms at first, my good friend Google soon sorted that out!

    An excellent review as always, Meredith.


    Great review! You always know how to convey the flavor of a book without giving away too much of the plot. This one is next up on my Austenesque Lovers TBR Challenge.


      Thank you, Abigail! I do try and not give away too much, but sometimes I want to talk about the surprises and twists that I loved so it is hard not too! Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


    Fantastic review, Meredith! I loved this modern adaptation, too, and I agree with you. Ms. Evans did a great job. She created a believable plot and endearing characters in a new exciting setting. 🙂


    I really liked this story! I agree entirely with your review, especially the perfectly chosen professions of the characters in the ballet world!

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