Review: Pride/Prejudice by Ann Herendeen

For readers who’ve loved Jane Austen’s most popular novel—the inestimable Pride and Prejudice—questions have always remained. What is the real nature of Darcy’s intense friendship with Charles Bingley, to explain why he would prevent Bingley’s marriage to Elizabeth’s beautiful and virtuous sister Jane? How can Darcy reconcile his own desire for Elizabeth with his determination to save his friend from a similar entanglement? What is the disturbing history behind Darcy’s tortured relationship with his foster brother, George Wickham? And what other intimacies, besides their cherished friendship, are exchanged between Elizabeth and Charlotte Lucas?

Review by Kalita Kasar

As the subtitle to this book says, this is a story of Elizabeth Bennet, Mister Darcy and their forbidden loves. A rewrite of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice with the added premise that both Fitzwilliam Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet are bi-sexual and have enjoyed various affairs with other characters from the original novel in the time leading up to, and even after their meeting and stumbling through a comedy of misunderstandings to the happy estate of marriage.

I first heard about this book on Lara Zeilinsky’s readings in lesbian and bi-sexual literature podcast and thought that the idea sounded somewhat intriguing. I bought the book in hopes of finding within it’s pages a lesbian story which was hinted at in the reading given from the book on the show.

I was disappointed in that hope. The relationship between Elizabeth Bennet and her bosom friend, Charlotte Lucas is barely mentioned and most of the story is spent in exploring Darcy’s relationship with Charles Bingley and as such makes for more of a standard m/m romance with a few women thrown in to facilitate the men in hiding their true natures from society.

This book was a mixed bag for me. There were times when I found myself grinning from ear to ear, delighted as the action sparkled across the pages and led me to keep avidly reading on, but this was interspersed with long–interminably– long conversations between characters which had me wanting to skim past them to get back to the real action and meat of the story–that being the romance upon which this book was originally built.

Perhaps I am too much of a “Janeite,” but I really felt that this book did the original an injustice, reducing the delightful Lizzy from a worthy match for Darcy, to a simpering, silly bride of convenience whom (though he did seem fond of her) he only married because it was the perfect way for him to continue his trysts with Bingley who, as we know, marries Jane Bennet, Lizzy’s sister.

The story is well written, but could have benefited from having at least half of the over-long conversations removed The editing was as near to pristine as any book gets these days and what small errors I noticed were not too distracting.

However, I find it difficult to ignore that my feeling on finishing this book was one of relief at having finally got to the last page, rather than the satisfaction I get from finishing a good read.


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