Sunday, June 22, 2014

Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Title: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
Authors: Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
Publisher: Touchstone
Publish Date: June 24th, 2014
Rating:

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 twenty-four-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 and design, complementing the existing web series, while including plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers 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.

The Secret Diaries of Lizzie Bennet is a companion novel to the YouTube sensation, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

I have never been a fan of diary format. Actually, the second I hear that a book is written in diary format, I run in the other direction. So, why you ask, would I possibly want to read a book that's whole premise is that it's a diary? Because it's about Lizzie and Darcy, of course! I've mentioned my obsession with all things Pride and Prejudice multiple times, so when I discovered The Lizzie Bennet Diaries on YouTube I watched all the episodes in two days. Then, when I discovered this "secret diary" companion, I had to have it. And guess what? I loved it!

The diary format is not that pronounced, not to the point of being—what I would call—obnoxious. It's clear that Lizzie is writing to her diary and there's a noticeable lack of details—at least, at first—that would be present in a non-diary format story, but it still sucked me in. Especially when Darcy was involved. (Obviously ;)

And that's really my only problem with the book. Huge chunks of the beginning felt like filler in between Darcy showing up or any character doing anything, really. Lizzie likes to talk about her school work, but that does not make for an interesting story. Thankfully, the more characters are introduced and the more Caroline, Darcy and Lydia time we get, the more exciting the story becomes. But, near the end, when more things are happening on camera, we start to get a couple of scenes in transcript form, straight from the videos, instead of Lizzie's first person commentary. It works, but I would have liked to see more of what Lizzie was thinking and feeling during those scenes. But, we do get to see first hand accounts of the time Lizzie and Darcy spend together at Pemberley, which was an amazing kind of adorableness that will leave any LBD fan swooning.

This Lizzie is the most abrasive version of Elizabeth Bennet I've ever read about, but she definitely has some major character growth towards the middle/end, and not only because she falls for Darcy. I think Lizzie mostly sees the error of her ways—yes, because of Darcy and his letter, but also—because of Lydia. LBD's version of Lydia has the most depth of any character in a Pride and Prejudice retelling I've ever watched or read, even without seeing her perspective the way you do in the videos. I remembered just how powerful her story was while reading and wanted to go back and rewatch when she and Lizzie finally talk near the end, because of the serious sisterly bonding. Then there's Fitz, Gigi and Caroline who break up the seriousness with humor, and we actually get to see more of Mr. and Mrs. Bennet in the book which was really pretty great. If you can't tell, I'm pretty in love with this particular retelling of P&P!

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a must read for diehard Pride and Prejudice fans, or fans of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If you haven't watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (go do that!) it's not necessary, but it's a lot of fun to be able to see the little things you weren't able to see while watching the series. And it might make a few odd references make a whole lot more sense. If you have seen LDB, you have to read the book because we get to see Lizzie/Darcy interaction first hand (!!!). So run! Go get your copy! You definitely don't want to miss out on any of the untold Dizzie action!

P.S. please figure out how to do this for Emma Approved! Because Snarky Knightly in book form would make me very happy.

For more about The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet check out these sites!

AmazonB&NGoodreads


Watch The Lizzie Bennet Diaries HERE!

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic review Jesse. I received this from the publisher and haven't heard too much about it, but now will have to start reading it very soon. I love love Pride and Prejudice and haven't read any adaptations, so can't wait.
    Thank you - Katie

    ReplyDelete

We love to read them. :)

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