This wasn’t one of the better ones, and I believe it is due partly to the fact that Smith gets a bit…meta in this one. See, the main characters in this Pride and Prejudice update are playing their own characters in a play version of Pride and Prejudice within the novel universe. It’s somewhat mind-boggling, actually.
Eddi Boswick has just set up her practice as a lawyer (naturally). She is roped into a local theater production of Pride and Prejudice, playing the part of Elizabeth Bennett, opposite the difficult Dave, a local who has made his dislike for her quite clear. Meanwhile, Eddi’s sister chases every cop she can, especially the handsome Wickham expy.
Now, apart from the mind screw Smith has going on, I just didn’t feel connected to the characters. I believe this was her first novel, so it’s to be expected that it won’t be as good as the later ones, but I still feel like something is missing here, though I really can’t tell what. I suppose they seemed more like they were, in fact, people being forced to perform a play as opposed to characters in their own rights. Where Reason and Romance succeeded was that you can forget you’re reading an updated version of a novel. You feel for Elaina as Elaina, not Elinor as Elaina. In this, however, it seems like one is constantly reminded “Yes, this is Pride and Prejudice!” Perhaps it is because Smith decided to be meta and make frequent mention of the original novel.
The other part is that the
expy’s ending felt horrible. In Pride and Prejudice, you feel like Lydia has gotten her just desserts. She’s thoughtless as ever, and you know her and Wickham’s relationship will not be a good one. However, you also know that overall she’s not going to have a horrific life. In this novel, however, the Wickham character is even worse. I suppose that’s realistic but that makes the ending actually sadder. In this book, “ Lydia ” and “Wickham” take off for a tropical resort. The Lydia character proceeds to get pregnant, and while she is dealing with morning sickness, the Wickham expy tries to pressure her into sex, gets mad and shoves her down when she won’t give in, and promptly goes to have sex with another woman. In the end, our runaway isn’t returned to her home where people love her and can help her care for her child. No, she wants to marry the cop, so “Darcy” arranges it! Sure, “Darcy” has his two bouncer-type friends living across the hall from them so “Wickham” doesn’t abuse her, but it still doesn’t feel right at all. In the original novel Lydia is a thoughtless little fool who has no fear and no regrets. When you learn she’s stuck with Wickham, you feel she gets what she deserves. In this book “ Lydia ” is a foolish girl who gets kicked hard by life, learns the error of her ways and deeply regrets them, and her husband is a drug-addled abuser waiting to happen! Lydia
Overall, this was not the best update.
On another note, I often wondered why, if they were going to mix Jane Austen books with horror, they did ridiculous things like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies instead of mixing it with, say, Lovecraftian horror.