3 imaginative Pride and Prejudice retellings I’ve enjoyed lately

3 imaginative Pride and Prejudice retellings I’ve enjoyed lately

Does every reader have a bookish category they can’t resist? I’d like to think so, and I definitely know my weakness: I’m a sucker for a good retelling, especially if Jane Austen is involved.

Some are good, some are dreadful, but I can’t resist trying. And even if the book isn’t great, I do appreciate the safety net a retelling offers: when an author reinterprets a classic, I get to enjoy the story on the page and puzzle out the author’s modern character and plot choices. The puzzling rarely lets me down, even if the story does.

In an odd bit of readerly timing, I recently read three Pride and Prejudice retellings back to back. (The first two were coincidental, and then I decided I might as well go for the trifecta.) Despite sharing a similar template, each book felt unique, in part because each had a completely different setting and prose style. It made for a fascinating book flight, but you don’t need to read all these books to get in on the fun.

Pride & Prejudice Retellings
Heartstone

Heartstone

I NEVER would have picked this up based on the cover, but this was enthusiastically recommended by the staff of Monroe, Georgia's wonderful store The Story Shop. They described it as "a completely faithful Pride and Prejudice retelling—but with dragons." This retelling hits all the familiar P&P beats, while adding familiar fantasy elements like dragon riders and warrior women and hobgoblins, and it works. If you enjoyed this, take note: the sequel hits shelves November 20. More info →
Pride

Pride

Author:
From the author of American Street, a new P&P "remix" that envisions Darcy and Lizzie as two Brooklyn teens. First line: "It's a truth universally acknowledged that when rich people move into the hood, where it's a little bit broken and a little bit forgotten, the first thing they want to do is clean it up." Zuri Benitez is the second daughter of a large Haitian-Dominican family that has lived forever on their block in Bushwick. When Darius Darcy pulls up to the expensively renovated mini-mansion across the street in a blacked-out SUV, she immediately hates him and the gentrification he represents. But Austen fans know that's only the beginning of the story. Zoboi's acknowledgements gave me goosebumps: don't miss them. More info →
Unmarriageable

Unmarriageable

Author:
Readers, I'm sorry tell you this doesn't come out until January 15, 2019... but at least you can put yourself at the top of the library holds list now. This update is set in Pakistan, 2001, and features a modern-day version of the family you know and love: the Binat family includes a sharp-witted father, marriage-obsessed mother, and five daughters. Alysba teaches English, and in a fun opening scene she challenges her teenage students to reinterpret Austen's famous opening line. Kamal uses her heroine's profession—and accompanying love of reading—to explore themes of colonialism and identity; despite these weighty themes she keeps her tone light. This is, above all, a rom com—and it's a fun one. More info →

Have you read any of these? What are your favorite Pride and Prejudice retellings?

P.S. If you’d like to peruse more book flight options, this is a great list. And if you’d like to add more Jane Austen retellings to your TBR, I share seven interesting options here.

41 comments | Comment

41 comments

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  1. Brucie mintz says:

    I enjoyed Unequal Affections, which you recommended. I listened to it and now plan to read it. I have found that most “retellings” are terrible!

  2. I haven’t heard of any of these! UNMARRIAGEABLE sounds good!
    My fave P&P retelling has to be Curtis Sittenfeld’s ELIGIBLE. I included it in my list of best books: http://www.wellreadtart.com/2018/09/18/quick-look-books-powerhouse-books-september-2018/

    I also love the FITZWILLIAM DARCY, GENTLEMAN series retelling by Pamela Aidan. Book #2 is a little different — a touch of the Gothic in there — but Book #1 and #3 stick to the original P&P storyline, but told through Darcy’s point of view. Aidan really captures Austen’s writing style.

    • Melinda Kiefer says:

      The best retelling of P & P is surely PAMELA AIDAN’s 3 book series :
      A NOVEL OF FITZWILLIAM DARCY, GENTLEMAN: (trilogy) VERY WELL WRITTEN!
      1) THESE THREE REMAIN
      2) DUTY AND DESIRE
      3) AN ASSEMBLY SUCH AS THIS
      If you’re having a yen for Jane Austen, read this trilogy!! I try to read them once a year!

      • Yay, Melinda! Another Pamela Aidan fan! I was blown away by how great her Darcy books were. I think these were one of the first retellings of P&P that I experienced, and while I’ve read countless others over the years, this trilogy remains as one of my favorites. So great that you reread them each year!!

  3. Susan says:

    Darcy and the Wicked Waltz by Jane Grix is a ridiculous Pride and Prejudice variation — that said, it made me laugh! It is sort of a soap opera version of Pride and Prejudice — Darcy has amnesia and Mrs. Bennet thinks he is the dancing master she hired. Something about Darcy believing he is a dancing master provided some good laughs. It veers very, very far afield of Jane Austen, so you would probably need to be in the mood for something extremely light and silly. I read it after finishing War and Peace, so maybe that is why I enjoyed it.

  4. Ivy Hendrix says:

    I am with you! I always try them. Thanks for these versions; I haven’t seen them. I did recently find one for Christmas- Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa De La Cruz. I haven’t started it yet, but it’s next on my list!

      • I read this one around Christmas last year, and while I liked the concept, the writing style drove me up the wall. I finished it but only because it was short and I liked the idea. If the writing is really bothering you, I would put it down because it doesn’t get better.

        • Debbie says:

          I just finished Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe and wasn’t a big fan of it. It really tried hard to stick to the original story, but just didn’t work well. Too bad, because the premise was interesting.

        • Claire – I agree with you! I liked the premise, but overall the book was not very well written. I also finished it because it was short and I liked the concept. For a frame of reference, this author is also the creator of The Descendents – a Disney film based around the offspring of Disney/classic children’s story characters. I think that may be more the author’s wheelhouse.

  5. Christine says:

    These all sound fantastic! I’d heard of a couple of them but not the dragon one… could be fun, and very different! I’m due for a re-read of P&P this next year (I can’t believe how long it’s been since I read it last!) and it would be a great time to work in some of these retellings. I’m a huge sucker for retellings of any classic stories and don’t usually mind many liberties being taken with the story as long as it’s well-written. I loved Eligible (which was very divisive, I know) and really enjoyed the web series The Lizzy Bennett Diaries (and Emma Approved also… a modernized retelling of Emma). A couple of my favorite re-imaginings of another classic, Jane Eyre, are Jane Steele (which is so meta and amazingly reworked… fantastic) and Mr. Rochester. Can’t get enough of retellings so I’m glad you like them too, Anne! More fodder for my reading life!

  6. Susan in TX says:

    Ibi Zoboi was at the Texas Book Festival this year and I got to hear her speak on a panel of National Book Award finalists. Loved hearing about her background and her passion for writing characters that look like her so that other girls will have the opportunity to read about characters that look like them. I had picked up Pride from the library on my way, and went home and read it in a couple of sittings. Thoroughly enjoyed it! Because I’m a little on the old-fashioned side, one of my favorite things about it was that it kept to the spirit of Austen by not getting graphic with the relationships – a YA book that I feel comfortable recommending to young adults. 🙂
    I’m not much of a fantasy/dragon reader myself, but I have a daughter that might love that first title. Headed to my library site now to see if they have Unmarriageable listed yet.

  7. Katie says:

    Pride sounds really good! Maybe I’m a purist, but I don’t usually enjoy retellings. It doesn’t keep me from reading them though! lol

    I love the Jane series – the YA comedic retellings. I think I heard about them on the WSIRN podcast…

  8. Melinda Malaspino says:

    My thing is Shakespeare,so when I find a modern retelling of a favorite play,I have to give it a try. Think “The Weird Sisters” for Macbeth, or Atwood’s “Hag-Seed” for The Tempest.

  9. Rebecka says:

    Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was so terrible it scared me away from all retellings, but these sound good and if you recommend them I think they’re “safe” for me to read. 😉

  10. Pride & Unmarriageable are both on my TBR lists. I’m such a sucker for a retelling. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is still my favorite, though I know it’s controversial. If you are looking for a good Persuasion retelling, By the Book by Julia Sonneborn was great.

  11. Shawna Johnson says:

    I’m currently reading The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. It’s not a retelling of an Austen novel, but a fictional account of what happened after Jane’s father passes away, based on writings by Jane found in a hidden trunk centuries later (also fictional, but imagine if it WERE true!). I’m only a quarter ways in, but so far very much enjoying it. I also really loved Syrie James’ novel Dracula, My Love a retelling of Dracula from a feminist perspective.

  12. Dany says:

    I really liked „only mr. Darcy will do“ (but I have to admit it’s not Great literature 🙈 – but a romantic enjoyable read)

  13. Lauren Tanis says:

    I love all P&P retellings, and “sequels”, and books from Darcy’s point of view. I think I’ve read them all! But now I have 3 more to add to my list! Exciting!
    Any Emma retellings (aside from Clueless?) or Emma “sequels”? I read Dear Mr. Knightley but would love to get my hands on more because Emma is actually my favorite Austen novel (don’t tell Mr Darcy though! Lol)

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  15. Melinda Kiefer says:

    PS/ As an aside to my comment above, another current book in the realm of Jane Austen is a book called LONGBOURN by Jo Baker. A completely fresh take on Austen….utterly engrossing. In this irresistibly imagined below stairs answer to P & P, the servants take center stage, taking care of the Bennet household. But there is just as much romance, heartbreak, and intrigue downstairs at LONGBOURN as there is upstairs. The author takes us beyond the drawing rooms of Jane Austen’s classic into the gritty daily particulars faced by the lower classes in Regency England during the Napoleonic Wars. It’s captivating: a brilliantly imagined and lovingly told story about the wide world beyond the margins and outside the parlors of PRIDE & PREJUDICE. A very well-written book.

  16. Nicholette says:

    I went to school with the brother of the girl that wrote Heart Stone! It was recommended to me by a friend and she told me who wrote it!

  17. Sarah says:

    Have you read Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin? It’s a P&P set in a Muslim community in suburban Toronto. When I was picking it up from my local bookseller this summer, they were telling me about Pride which was yet to be released.

  18. Melinda says:

    If you like the idea of Jane Austen with dragons, check out Tooth and Claw by Jo Walton. It’s not a retelling of any particular Austen novel, but it would definitely be at home on the same shelf (minus the dragons). As a bonus, you get to read Jo Walton, who is brilliant.

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