Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Source: Review Copy from Author
In a debut release that translates Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice to modern-day Seattle with millennial-aged characters, Audrey Ryan tells the story of two sisters that are reuniting to live together after college and law school, find gainful employment, and figure out their directions in life. It is an exciting/confusing/frustrating time. And with uncertainties about their chosen fields and the complications of new relationships, both Lizzie and Jane Venetidis have some difficult lessons to learn and discover about themselves…
One big reason I completely fell in love with this modernization of Pride and Prejudice is because it is modern and New Adult. Making Jane and Lizzie in their early twenties (instead of older) places them in the same time of life of Regency Jane and Elizabeth Bennet – their futures are unknown. On the brink of the next chapter and unsure which path will end up being the one they take. However, unlike Jane Austen’s characters, these modern-day counterparts have many more paths to choose from! In addition, I enjoyed how the relationships in this story represent real modern relationships – with casual hook-ups, the struggle to balance career, friends, and love, and what happens when people in a relationship aren’t on the same page/want the same things. It felt so wonderfully relevant, and it was so easy to understand and relate to each character’s experiences and feelings.
Another part of this story I enjoyed was how how Audrey Ryan found such clever ways to reinterpret and modernize elements from Pride and Prejudice. Each character has a new twist to them – Mr. and Mrs. Venetidis are divorced, Lydia is Jane’s and Lizzie’s cousin with overbearing parents, Charlotte is Lizzie’s co-worker from the coffee house, etc. All the twists and creative updates made the story feel more original and unpredictable. However, my favorite update was with Lizzie’s and Jane’s parents. It was interesting to see how the failed marriage effected both daughters, and I appreciated how both Mr. and Mrs. Veneditis shared some similarities with their Regency counterparts but were also very different. Super inventive and perceptive of Ms. Ryan to translate Jane Austen’s characters this way!
Speaking of the characters, I was quick to fall in love with Ms. Ryan’s portrayals of Darcy and Lizzie. I loved seeing Darcy fall hard for Lizzie and all the adorable little ways he reached out to her, and I just loved Lizzie, period – she is the type of character you want for a best friend. Similar to Pride and Prejudice there are several misunderstandings and mistaken assumptions between these two, but added to that is poor communication and hang-ups about relationships. It was an interesting combination and dynamic and refreshing change from a heavier focus on pride and prejudice. While I may have wanted a little something more during the “Hunsford Parsonage” confrontation, I really appreciate what happened following that event and the unique and satisfying direction Ms. Ryan steered the story.
With her authentic characterizations, innovative updates, and fresh voice Audrey Ryan delivers an intelligent and well-crafted homage to Pride and Prejudice. Readers who appreciate rewarding stories of finding oneself and discovering your own path will love this story, even if they have never read Jane Austen!
Note: I would recommend this novel for Mature Audiences. There are a few intimate scenes and some profanity.