A Searing Acquaintance by J. L. Ashton became one of my favourite modern Pride and Prejudice retelling. Set in New York, but the main premise hasn’t changed: Darcy is pride, Elizabeth is prejudiced (or vice versa). A big advantage; the author doesn’t force the original episodes (for e.g. the Wickham-line) down the readers’ throat, but creates new events which perfectly fit into this modern adaptation. The characters and actions are synchronized with the modern, 21st century demands. Elizabeth and Darcy were great, very well-developed. The tension and chemistry between the two was touchable and beautiful. Since it is a modern variation, it does contain mature content, however it is well-written. Darcy is not only suffering because of Elizabeth’s words and actions but also from past events which are haunting him, and Elizabeth has also had her fair share of family drama. I feel for her in Netherfield (first time) and every time she talks to her mom, Sylvia. Ms Ashton thrown new light upon some of the old characters like Mr Bennet and Sylvia Bennet-LaRue, who are a bit more negligent and cruel than originally – I think, and as painful it is to read their viciousness, it adds to the story. On the other hand, Lizzy’s stepmother, Barbara is a great counterpoint to those two characters.
The author followed up her storyline,* and the plot and scenes were consistent. When Elizabeth and Darcy got together, and recognized their faults -to paraphrase Heraclitus: they didn’t step twice into the same river, which means there is no unnecessary angst between the two of them in the second part of the book. There are other things to solve and unknot, but at least they talk to each other as they promised previously.
*The only thing I did not understand is: Jane Austen was mentioned twice: Darcy had her books in his library, and she is one of Elizabeth’s favourite authors. As she is mentioned, Ms Ashton should have dropped some clue about her main characters’ names. How come, that in this 21st century story we have a man called Fitzwilliam Darcy, a women called Elizabeth Bennet, they have a relationship, we know that both of them like Austen and she doesn’t explain their names? I mean if Austen is “herself” and she had Pride and Prejudice, there should have been some reference. If she is not “herself” then Ms Ashton would owe us an explanation that she is still “herself”, but without Pride and Prejudice written.
Besides Barbara, my favourite character is Catherine de Bourgh. I love when writers make her a bit more appealing than she actually is. Annabelle de Bourgh, however, is a stronger character and it was good to see her more, especially that she is interesting: a provocative, postmodern, pushing the limits, misunderstood artist. The story wouldn’t be whole without Mr Collins, who (is a nerd and Bingley’s colleague), believe it or not, gets pimped up by the end of the book and becomes almost attractive…
It’s a shame; there is no New York map with the book-locations in the appendix, as I’d love to do a “book-tour” next time I go to the Big Apple. Eat a pretzel in Central Park, walk to Strawberry field from Poets Walk, ending up at Upper West Side, etc. I’ll have to re-read it before I leave.
I think this book would make a great film! I can see a wonderfully casted couple who have the best on-screen chemistry since Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in You’ve Got Mail.