I really liked this one! I’m a big fan of Pride and Prejudice, and I’ve been known to pick up a Pride and Prejudice “sequel” or two. (I’ve even gone as far as reading the fanfiction. Because I’m that person.) I tend to shy away from the “modern” retellings of the Austen tale, though. Usually because they’re poorly written. But I was pleasantly surprised with this one!
Many of the characters from the original are here, and our core cast even have the same names. Charles Bingley has become Chip, and Elizabeth is Liz for the most part. The Bennet family, the Darcy’s, even Charlotte Lucas retain their names. Some characters have changed names for no discernable reason (Louisa Hurst has somehow become Brooke?) and some characters are missing altogether. Lady Catherine and Anne make appearances somewhat in name, but not at all in character (which is nice, for a change.) And then we have Wickham.
Wickham has been divided into two characters, Jasper Wick and Ham(ilton) Ryan. Jasper is connected to Liz and Ham is connected to Lydia. Ham is an extremely decent guy (he’s certainly too good for Lydia!) There’s one fairly significant fact about himself that most of the Bennet family doesn’t know, and it causes a bit of a ruckus when it’s revealed. The asshole factor is purely placed on Jasper. And while he’s kind of a jerk, some of the blame Liz places at his feet is kind of, I don’t know, unwarranted. (Spoiler alert – It seemed kind of petty that one of the reasons she finally left him was her discovering a dumb decision he made 15 years ago, before they had even met.) To be fair, there’s plenty of other, warranted blame!
The story is placed in a modern setting, and yet it is believable. The bones of the original are there, but the author wasn’t afraid to move plot points around or remove them entirely if necessary. The characters are all flawed and have more layers than in Austen’s original work. There are financial problems and health issues and multiple motives. The “good” characters aren’t all good, and the “bad” characters aren’t all bad. Liz is a gossip who is trying to help her family as best she knows how (and of course, she knows best!) Cousin Willy (William Collins) isn’t that bad of a guy, he’s just awkward, and he’s definitely not stupid! Lydia and Kitty are extremely crass, unemployed, and obsessed with CrossFit. And Darcy, well, he’s still the same sort of character, for the most part, if not a little less proper. Caroline Bingley is also still a bitch, though.
Some things seemed a little off, though. Some plot points seemed a little contrived until you got used to them (Ham’s big secret, for one.) The level of Lydia and Kitty’s crassness seems a bit much as well. Also, sometimes Liz’s speech patterns were a little irritating. She seemed to say, “Just so you know” a lot. I’m not a runner, so maybe someone else can clarify something for me. Is it possible to have a conversation while running? Like, exercise running, not sprinting from a bear running. And that last chapter, WTF? It seemed completely out of place, and didn’t really add to the story.
For most of the book, I was listening to the audiobook. But, as a hazard of renting from a library app (3M Cloud Library for the win!) my audiobook expired before I was done listening to it. So I finished the last few chapters with my eyes instead of my ears. The most irritating part of the audiobook had to do with formatting. There are 181 chapters in the book, and the audiobook would pause for just a second too long between them. They’re more like vignettes or scenes instead of chapters, and it’s not as jarring in print as it is in audio format.