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.
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 →
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 →
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?