The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet: A Novel (Unabridged)
by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick
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A modern adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice based on the Emmy Award-winning phenomenon, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. There is a great deal that goes into making a video blog. Lizzie Bennet should know, having become a YouTube sensation over the course of her year-long video diary project. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries chronicled Lizzie’s life as a 24-year-old grad student, struggling under a mountain of student loans and living at home with her two sisters - beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. What may have started as her grad student thesis grew into so much more, as the videos came to inform and reflect her life and that of her sisters. When rich, handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets - and for Lizzie’s viewers. Suddenly Lizzie - who always considered herself a fairly normal young woman - was a public figure. But not everything happened on-screen. Luckily for us, Lizzie kept a secret diary. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet provides more character introspection as only a book can, with revelatory details about the Bennet household, including Lizzie’s special relationship with her father, untold stories from Netherfield, Lizzie’s thoughts and fears about life after grad school and becoming an instant web celebrity. Written by Bernie Su, the series’ executive producer, co-creator, head writer, and director, along with Kate Rorick, the novelist, TV writer, and consulting producer on the series, the novel features a journal-entry format, complementing the existing web series, while including plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new listeners alike. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like it’s never been done before.
AudioBook Review: Stars: Overall : 4 Narration 4 Story 3
Stars: Overall : 4 Narration 4 Story 3
Initially a web-series, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a reinvention of the classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. You don’t have to have a solid grounding in the original, although a general understanding (and appreciation) of the original will help in this story.
I found that this felt as if it were more a companion piece to the series, with some details repeated and others more involved. While it provides a strong correlation to the original story, and the characters in modern form are easy to relate to their originals, there is plenty of modern elements to make the story enjoyable for those who aren’t fans of historic fiction.
Oft-repeated elements that seem to be mainstays for Lizzie: her difficulties with her sisters, the endless juggle and matchmaking, and even Lizzie’s own feelings on rights for women. All of these also are repeating elements in the original, and the sense of ‘poking fun’ at some of the characters that Austen uses is solidly grounded in this story. Being familiar with the original Pride and Prejudice, I wasn’t finding the correlations difficult to spot or understand, but some elements are obviously grounded in the video story, and weren’t explained with enough detail to provide clear understanding.
Purportedly in diary form, the format is loosely based and very much carries the feeling of a playwright or scriptwriter having charge. Descriptions and dialogue vary greatly from detailed to the last and least element to a broad brushstroke – all holding in an overall tone that felt analytical and logical. It missed that touch of heart that I had hoped would bring Lizzie fully to life. Perhaps with an exposure to the web series I would have been more engaged with her revelations. Secondary characters are clever and alternate between funny and regimented, most holding true to their original influences.
Narration is provided by Ashley Clements and I understand she is the actress who portrayed Lizzie in the videos. In this audiobook, she manages to bring most of the voices of characters to individual distinction, employing pitch, tone and delivery changes. The one exception was the voice of Charlotte who I found rather flat and monotone, but with the cast of characters to present, there is always one who doesn’t quite fit.
I would recommend this for those who are fans of the video series, or interested in using it as a companion to the video series: for those who are simply fans of Austen will find that while this is a clever and well-done adaption, it needs just a little more.
I received an AudioBook copy of the title from Simon & Schuster Audio for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.