To start with a confession, until now I picked books randomly and if I liked them enough and had time, I wrote a review but this time I was asked to do so. Needless to say I was afraid that what if I don’t like it. Thanks Heavens my worst nightmare hasn’t come true and I can only hope if I’ll ever be asked to write another review it will be at least half entertaining and well written as this.
Who knew an era which wasn’t considered to be my cup of tea can be resistless… The book is a Pride and Prejudice variation set in the 1940’s USA, but not as simple as it is. What I knew about this era is mostly from old Hollywood films. Regency and ’40’s USA has a lot in common so the story works really well in the modern setting too.
Don’t know where did the singing idea came from, but during reading I can well imagine the inspiration might have been the ’95 BBC version Pemberley scene where Elizabeth is singing.
In the beginning of the book you can hear the narrator lots of times and I love her voice: witty, sparkling, funny. “No one die in the south. People “passed” or “moved on” or, in the case of a little old ladies, “went home to Jesus.” or “…middle-aged man who had come back from the South Pacific minus one leg…”
I particulary enjoyed the little tale about Mr Collins’, who’s first name is Leland for a change. Where that came from? I can tell you with a name like that he can only be more akward and he will shock you I can gaurantee.
Beau North isn’t afraid to talk about topics that Miss Austen wasn’t allowed to approach or didn’t know about, like war, abusive husband, child abuse, homosexuality, posttraumatic stress disorder, which make the story modern but it’s still kept true to P&P.
The most heartbreaking scene (for me) was to see Elizabeth suffer. You know something is not okay with her and you are eager to know what, but you have to wait until Bingley’s birthday to find it out. At the same time watching Darcy in the depth of despair, drinking excessively and trying to cope with his worst nightmare is another treasure. Normally writers torture Darcy more and leave the girl to be blinded by her prejudice, but as much as my heart aches for her, it’s refreshing to know she has her share of torture too.
Every scene with Darcy and Elizabeth is talking, powerful, passionate, comes to life in 3D which means it’s exceptionally well written. There is more than one love story. I mean there are quite a few, but one is brave, surprising and at the same time you can suspect and I was also wondering that it is a possibility, even between the lines in Austen’s work. Some of the minor characters have their little surprises.
Usually I like Fitzwilliam as long as he is not the cause of the tangled web between Lizzy and Darcy. He has a very powerful story here, there’s a lot of war related stories, love-life and the connection with his dad and brother is very touching and as painful or upsetting it is to read, I like the twist with Fitzwilliam. I cannot decide which scene was the most dramatic and stressing to read: Elizabeth had a love life before Darcy; Fitzwilliam fighting with his demons or seeing Charlotte’s struggles with her parents and husband. Many scenes or rather the whole book is a wow factor.
I particularly enjoyed that John Lucas had a bigger role than in any other variations I’ve read so far and he is a pleasant person. Maybe it’s time to include him in canon.
Since You’ve Got Mail (Meg Ryan, Tom Hanks) I’ve always been wondering about the answer for the question they raised: “Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice? She was too proud […] Or was she too prejudiced and Mr Darcy was is too proud?” You can read an answer for that in one of the early chapters, which is interesting.
I love that the author has an eye for details and answers small questions you might have, like why is Elizabeth Lizzie and not Lizzy or some plot related things which could be forgotten after 200 pages, but she doesn’t afraid to refer back. In the beginning you can guess why is the title what it is, but it sinks into oblivion after a few chapters, just to bring it back and point out.
I don’t like when there is too much description but Beau North has found a fine balance between dialogues and descriptions. Interesting but there was a scene in the book where the narrator sort of ‘forgot herself’ and talked to the reader like sometimes they do in ballads.
Interesting to look out for the cultural references and the books the characters read. For eg. I haven’t heard about Edna St Vincent Millay before, but I was curious enough to read some of her poems, and it adds extra meaning to the characters and context. It’s also interesting to watch out for the words the author uses when she is writing about different kinds of love. Who says what…
Longbourn’s Songbird by Beau North is another book which would make a great literature thesis. The book is great, the review is not giving back its awesomeness thanks to my limited writing skills but read it! You won’t be disappointed!