Review: 'Prejudice and Pride' by Lynn Messina (2015)
You know Darcy: rich, proud, standoffish, disapproving, one of the greatest romantic heroes of all time. But you don't know this Darcy because THIS Darcy is a woman.
In PREJUDICE & PRIDE, Lynn Messina’s modern retelling with a gender-bendy twist, everything is vaguely familiar and yet wholly new. Bingley is here, in the form of Charlotte "Bingley" Bingston, an heiress staying at the Netherfield hotel on Central Park, as is Longbourn, transformed from an ancestral home into a perennially cash-strapped art museum on the edge of the city. Naturally, it employs an audacious fundraiser with an amused glint in his eye called Bennet.
All the favorite characters are present and cleverly updated: Providing the cringe-worthy bon mots is Mr. Meryton, the nerve-wracked executive director of the Longbourn who’s always on the lookout for heiresses to join his museum’s very important committees. (Universally acknowledged truth: Any woman in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a social committee to chair.) Collin Parsons is still in obsequious, if ironic, awe of his patroness, Lady Catherine de Bourgh. The wicked Georgia Wickham toils as a graphic designer at Redcoat Design by day and schemes against Darcy by night.
Ever since I first read 'Pride and Prejudice' when I was a teenager, I've been a big fan of Jane Austen and almost anything connected to her in one way or another. I love checking out adaptations of her novels, whatever kind they may be: modern-day retellings, from the point of view of another character, an important change of events, featuring vampires and/or zombies (yes, even those!). So, when I found Lynn Messina's 'Prejudice and Pride' on NetGalley, I straight away requested the novel and luckily got approved! I actually already read 'Little Vampire Women', the author's adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel 'Little Women', so I was really curious to see what she had decided to do with this particular classic!
Brothers Bennet and John Bethle both live in New York City and work at the Longbourn Collection, a relatively small art museum in the city. Their boss Mr. Meryton is always on the look-out for people to help fund the museum, including young and rich socialites who can organise events and help spread the word. So when heiress Charlotte Bingston, known to her friends as Bingley, comes to town, Mr. Meryton is set on John and Bennet charming her to invest some of her money in the museum. However, Charlotte's best friend Darcy Fitzwilliam isn't amused by the brothers and particularly their boss, and their acquaintance leads to quite a bit more than both parties initially expected...
As a big Jane Austen fan I was really curious to check out Lynn Messina's 'Prejudice and Pride', which is not only a modern-day retelling of Austen's classic novel set in New York City, but also one in which the genders are swapped. I loved looking for the differences and similarities with the original novel and discovering what the author had decided to change or even do completely different. We've got a male Elizabeth and a female Mr. Darcy in the form of Bennet and Darcy, which I thought was great. I also loved what the author decided to do with Mrs. Bennet in the form of Mr. Meryton, younger brother Lydon as the infamous Lydia, and Darcy's gay cousin Collin, who was quite fabulous and a great new interpretation of the character in my opinion!
I do have to admit I missed the sparks between Darcy and Bennet; the chemistry between the two of them unfortunately wasn't really there for me, which is quite an important aspect of this romance story. In some instances the author also decided to use specific Jane Austen quotes/language which just didn't really fit in with the modern-day setting and feel of the story. However, don't get me wrong, I did really enjoy this Austen adaptation and my first gender-swap retelling and definitely recommend it to any Austen fans out there. 'Prejudice and Pride' is a fascinating and original retelling of Jane Austen's most famous novel; a thoroughly enjoyable read and new take on this classic romance that fits the modern day and age.