Monday, March 7, 2011

Prom and Prejudice:A delightful modern retelling that captures the essence and feel of the original

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making? Whatever the result, Elizabeth Eulberg, author of The Lonely Hearts Club, has concocted a very funny, completely stylish delight for any season — prom or otherwise.

Book Review:
Prom and Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg
4 out of 5 stars

I have read a lot of retellings of Pride and Prejudice (one of my absolute favorite books). Some are okay; some are downright dreadful. Somewhere, Jane Austen's gotta be rolling in her grave at the sacrilege some people have committed regarding her works.

Now, let me say this: Prom and Prejudice is my new favorite retelling of the beloved classic. Elizabeth Eulberg perfectly balances the fresh and modern with the classic and original to create a surprisingly delightful tale. Predictability is often a problem with retelling well-known works, but Eulberg manages to throw in surprises and twists that smash all predictability, while staying true to the essence and feel of the original. I've got to say, I am impressed.

To demonstrate how much I enjoyed this book: I read the whole thing in one evening and turned around and read it again the next day. At 227 pages, it's a quick read, which is so refreshing after reading all of these bloated young adult books in badly need of an editor (Halo, anyone?) or books where it feels like the author is tossing in words at random to get to 350 pages. Prom and Prejudice is tight and concise in a good way with near perfect pacing, giving it that unputdownable quality I'm always craving.

Elizabeth Eulberg writes engaging characters and manages to brilliantly modernize their faults. I found myself even enjoying the parts where Eulberg veers slightly from the source material. (Dare I say it? She even made me like Collins!) Although Mrs. Bennet dishes up some hilarious lines in both the book and the movie, I'm always mortified and embarrassed on Lizzie's behalf at her mother's behavior. I'm thankful Eulberg dumped all of Mrs. Bennet's bad qualities on Lydia (whom I've always despised) and gave Lizzie a nice, normal mother instead.

How fun is it to read a modern, teenage version of Darcy? I loved it. The essence of Lizzie and Darcy and their relationship ooze from this book, and Eulberg captures the romance tension of the original in a way that I couldn't put this book down. Her explanations of how pride and prejudices are keeping these beloved literary characters apart are accessible and modernized. (My husband needs to read these explanations--I made him finally watch the BBC movie with me, and he hated it. He didn't get the whole "pride and prejudice" standing in the way, insisting Lizzie only started to like Darcy once she saw his house. I will not tolerate anyone calling Lizzie Bennet a gold digger.)

And Prom and Prejudice's ending? I didn't see that coming. Just another example of how Eulberg scatters surprises throughout to make a fresh, delightful tale that hopefully will lead readers to take on the original.

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