Love, Lies and Lizzie by Rosie Rushton

This is a modern, British teen version of Pride and Prejudice that, when I read it I couldn’t help compare to Sweet Valley High. You’re right to read that as a dis of sorts, but, somewhat to my dismay, I wanted to see how everything was resolved (just as once I did with the twins in the aforementioned series).

Mary becomes Meredith, an annoying know-it-all obsessed with saving the environment. Lydia and Katie are twins, both silly and ignorant, with the former much more popular and confident than the latter until after “the fall.” Mrs. Bennet inherits money (the text says that an old man, a distant relative, had a fond memory of little girl Alice—like the Sense and Sensibility inheritance? But why would he think that the rest of her family was unworthy? What happened to the smart brother, Mr. Gardiner, here Mr. Frognalls? And how did Rushton decide which names to keep and which to scrap?)

Let’s address the annoying facets first: 1. the teenagers are annoying, especially Lydia. They make poor decisions, and with a lot less analysis than most of the teens with whom I work on a daily basis. 2. There are Britishisms that obscured meaning for a nice, American reader who is perfectly happy to pepper conversations with an “indeed” as need be, but who has little knowledge of a dad going “spare,” a mom getting a “bit squiffy,”  or a friend “slag[ging] off . . . mates from the comprehensive.” 3. Lizzie actually refers to “that Pride and Prejudice DVD,” which is over the top.

As for the fun parts, I did genuinely care about the characters, and some of Rushton’s maneuverings are clever, if not subtle. Jane falls off a horse of Bingley’s, much like her mom’s hand got broken in her dad’s company, before they were a couple. Injury brought the latter couple together, and the text hints that it will do the same for the former. Once Jane is injured, Darcy overhears her (deliriously) call out her ex-boyfriend’s name, which provides motivation for him to try to spare his friend from falling too hard for her. (Awkward, however, is that Bingley is not at the hospital because of “family business,” and that Caroline, who witnessed the injury, makes no appearance either.)  When Bingley learns of Jane’s fall and appears on the scene, his concern is genuine, as is his surprise that Darcy would still be there, given Darcy’s recent reasons to despise hospitals. We thus get a hint early on of Darcy’s suffering and either his basic goodness (in staying for Jane’s sake) or his interest in Lizzie (in staying for hers).

Lady Catherine appears as Katrina, a hotel magnate (as she was in Bride and Prejudice) in France, and her new employee is Mr. Collins, here Drew. Mrs. Forster is still party to Lydia’s disgrace, but this time because she goes off with her lover and leaves her daughter, Amber, and Lydia, alone. When Darcy and Wickham encounter each other, Rushton has Darcy turn white, and Wickham, red, which always causes some debate in our circles.

The resolution happens quickly and to “everybody’s satisfaction,” as our Elizabeth Bennet would say, but though I got hooked, I’d recommend this text more for teenage fans of Austen, than for most adults.

Published in: on May 20, 2009 at 2:02 am  Leave a Comment  

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