Author: Lara S. Ormiston
Date of Publication: 7th January 2014
I am a long term, unapologetic Austen fan. Not only of Austen’s original works (Sense and Sensibility vies for my “favourite book of all time” position) but also of every spin off and re-imagining possible – Jane Austen Book Club, Austenland, Lost in Austen…you name it, I’ve probably seen it / read it. However I have to admit – I have never read a Pride and Prejudice re-imagining quite like this.
Usually (and I use this term with only personal experience to hold to) people seem to re-imagine so that they can write Pride and Prejudice with steamy stuff thrown in. I’m not saying this is a BAD thing, simply an oft attempted one. However to see a piece of fiction which takes that fateful day at the Parsonage and turns the proposal scene on its head, for me, could only have gone one of two ways. Fortunately this book took the best possible road and created something which I found enjoyable, heart warming and interesting – yes, that’s right. Someone has written an interesting Austen re-telling. Break out the brass band!!
On a serious note; Ormiston is quite obviously a great fan of Austen and P&P. She treats the characters with respect and love, honouring their original characterisation without losing sight of her re-invented plot. Obviously there are a few moments in which modern sensibilities shine through (and a couple of phrases which broke me from an otherwise near-perfect glaze of Austen-esque reading) but, without doubt, this is the best P&P retelling I’ve encountered thus far. This fulfilled my need for more Elizabeth / Darcy interaction without falling into the “after the wedding” pit which is often used to do so.
There’s a little Mr Bennett bashing – but really, who are we kidding, he is NOT a good Father – and Lydia is twenty times as silly as she has ever been. Wickham is more overt in his dastardly ways and Jane seems to be meeker and milder than ever. However enhancing character traits which already existed didn’t offend me in any way – rather, Ormiston seemed to take strength from the material as opposed to cast it aside in favour of new. This trait, perhaps more than any other, made me fall a little in love. I cannot fix on the hour, or the look, or the words, which laid the foundation. It is too long ago. I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun.
A thoroughly enjoyable read which is sweet, respectful and real.