“I can do this!” Lilly said.
“Yes, you can!” I agreed.
“I’m not going to let anyone make me feel small or tell me what I think!”
“Absolutely!” I clapped. “Me neither!”Tiffany Schmidt, A Date with Darcy
I recently finished reading the first book in the “Bookish Boyfriends” series by Tiffany Schmidt, A Date with Darcy. This is a contemporary retelling of Pride and Prejudice and the first in a series of contemporary retellings of classic novels with related protagonists (the next two appear to focus on the sister and best friend of this book’s heroine).
I really like retellings and how they explore the stories we are familiar with in new and interesting ways. This one updated Jane Austen’s classic to take place in a private high school (Hero High) with a heroine who is on a scholarship and a hero who is the principal’s son. The one thing that really annoyed me about this book was that it leaned a little too much into the meta-ness of being a retelling. The heroine knows she’s in a retelling of Pride and Prejudice and goes looking for particular events (Lydia’s abduction, Lady Catherine’s lecture, etc.). While the parallels of the story worked really well, the constant awareness and pointing it out ended up sort of ruining it for me. It’s hard to care as much when even the characters know the outcome because they have literally read the book.
The characters were fun overall and are what will get me to read the next book in the series. Merrilee, our Lizzie Bennet, is a quirky girl who adores books, especially YA romances. She starts the book with the firm conviction that “boys are better in books.” She was cute and likable, but her biggest strength was her relationships with her sisters and friend, Eliza. It was the aspects of Merrilee that weren’t trying to be Pride and Prejudice that I enjoyed most, it seems! I also loved her sisters (both of them) and Eliza a lot and am interested to see what happens in their lives.
Fielding, the book’s Darcy stand-in, wasn’t as interesting or three-dimensional. To be fair, Austen’s original doesn’t give Darcy that much either, since we know him almost entirely based on what the heroine knows about him. Somehow in this retelling, however, that lack of perspective feels weird and ends up making him less interesting. It seemed like Merrilee should know, or have found out, more about him throughout the story, but she can’t or it won’t parallel the original closely enough. So she doesn’t, and neither do we.
I wouldn’t list this among my favorite retellings of Pride and Prejudice, but it was a fun read and I am intrigued enough by the other characters to read more and find out what stories they get to live out. We’ll see how long the series keeps my interest, but so far it’s hooked me for at least one more book, which is a good start!
- Author Tiffany Schmidt’s Website
- Bookish Boyfriends Series Website
- JaneAusten.org – about Jane Austen and her books
This was my least favorite book in the series. Merrilee is too over the top, and more Bridget Jones than Lizzie. Fielding is too under developed to decide if I like him or not. Book 2, The Boy Next Story is so much better.
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