Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

I'm a big Jane Austen fan so when I realized Melissa de la Cruz had written Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe, an updated, Christmastime, gender swapped version of Pride and Prejudice, I was sold. Happily, I really enjoyed it even though it's a super fast read.

Here's the synopsis:
Darcy Fitzwilliam is 29, beautiful, successful, and brilliant. She dates hedge funders and basketball stars and is never without her three cellphones—one for work, one for play, and one to throw at her assistant (just kidding). Darcy’s never fallen in love, never has time for anyone else’s drama, and never goes home for Christmas if she can help it. But when her mother falls ill, she comes home to Pemberley, Ohio, to spend the season with her dad and little brother.
Her parents throw their annual Christmas bash, where she meets one Luke Bennet, the smart, sardonic slacker son of their neighbor. Luke is 32 and has never left home. He’s a carpenter and makes beautiful furniture, and is content with his simple life. He comes from a family of five brothers, each one less ambitious than the other. When Darcy and Luke fall into bed after too many eggnogs, Darcy thinks it’s just another one night stand. But why can’t she stop thinking of Luke? What is it about him? And can she fall in love, or will her pride and his prejudice against big-city girls stand in their way?
I had taken a quick look at Goodreads to see what others thought of this book and one comment stuck out for me: that the synopsis doesn't quite match with the actual story. Though it really doesn't have much to do with my overall thoughts on the novel, I do think the synopsis should reflect what's actually happening in the book. I don't think it's ever mentioned in the story that she has multiple cell phones (she adores her assistant), she doesn't meet Luke at the party because they went to school together, Luke is not a slacker, and they don't have a one night stand. They literally sleep together after Darcy passes out from a few too many drinks. I think most people who are reading this for a Pride and Prejudice retelling won't care too much about the discrepancies because, if they're anything like me, they didn't even pay too much attention to the synopsis in the first place. But someone else who's going into this not knowing much about the original story might be frustrated with the story they ended up with.

The novel is quite short - just over 200 pages - so it couldn't faithfully follow Austen's novel. But I actually really liked how de la Cruz updated and tweaked the story to suit her needs and the present day. Characters were added (Darcy has a bunch of brothers instead of just one opposite gender sibling) or taken away (there's no Lady Catherine de Bourgh in this story but Darcy's dad sort of plays that role), and some even changed pretty drastically (Darcy's BFF Bingley is still a man but Jane became Jim so there's a gay romance in play too). Even with all the changes, it all seemed to work for me. I liked that I knew how the story would play out but wasn't totally sure how it would do so. It's not quite Lizzie Bennet Diaries level amazing but it's pretty good as far as adaptations/retellings go.

This was a really easy read for me. I read it in about two hours over the course of two days. Part of that is because I'm a super fast reader, but I think it's also because I already sort of knew how the story would play out and also because it was written in such a way that wasn't too difficult to read.

Like most Christmas books these days, the holiday aspect of the book isn't overpowering. The book begins around Christmas and there is a big fancy Christmas party as well as some caroling. Plus, mistletoe does play a pretty big part in Darcy and Luke's relationship. So, if you want Christmas, you've got it. If you'd rather the holiday didn't play a part, well, know that it's not a huge one. I personally love Christmas stories so I always want more festive cheer than less but I can understand why it's usually played down in books.

Overall, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe was a fun holiday read. Like I said, I'm a Jane Austen fan so I came into it with that lens and knowing the original story fairly well but I'd be really interested to see what those who haven't read Austen's novel think about it. Melissa de la Cruz's latest is a good one to pick up during the holidays not just because it's a good read but also for its hints of Christmas cheer.

*An advanced uncorrected proof was provided by the distributor, Raincoast Books, in exchange for review consideration. All opinions are honest and my own.*

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