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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

'Prom and Prejudice' by Elizabeth EULBERG

Received from the Publisher

From the BLURB:

After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be — especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.

Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk — so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?

Jane Austen’s seminal work is beloved and has been adapted and reformed many times. From the infamous and faithful Colin Firth BBC miniseries, to the modernized ‘Bridget Jones’s Diary’ and even a Bollywood turn with ‘Bride and Prejudice’. Young Adult author Elizabeth Eulberg is transforming Lizzie Bennett yet again – this time as a downtrodden high school student at a prestigious private school.

Lizzie is a scholarship kid at the elite Longbourn academy. Lizzie’s only friends are Charlotte (a fellow scholarship pariah) and Jane, her wealthy yet saintly roommate. Otherwise Lizzie spends her days suffering the slings and arrows of her wealthier-than-thou classmates. Longbourn heats up around prom time – when it’s all about what you wear and who you bring to the social event of the year (often featured in Vanity Fair, thank you very much!) and the most eligible prom date from Pemberley boys college is Will Darcy . . . it’s just a shame that Lizzie finds him unbearable.

Eulberg has modernized Austen’s stellar classic with equal amounts of fresh perspective and humble homage to the great writer. It’s ‘Pride and Prejudice’ for the Gossip Girl set. The universal truth is that a Longbourn girl is in want of a prom date. Instead of Netherfield Park it’s skiing in Vermont. And Elizabeth’s beloved sisters are now her dorm-mates and classmates.

Eulberg is clearly an Austen-devotee, and she never forgets what’s at the heart of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. . . all the caustic social commentaries are still there – but this time it’s about vapid youth and high school horrors. And the life lessons translate beautifully – particularly between Lizzie and Will and their disastrous misjudgement of one another;
I let out a laugh. He looked over at me. “Do you think you’re perfect?” he asked.
“No, no, not at all. Far from it. I'm just interested in hearing what you think your faults are.” I found myself enjoying the conversation.
“Well.” He paused. “Everybody has them, and I'm certainly not an exception. I can sometimes have a bit of a short fuse. I'm not the most forgiving of people. And I'm sure I would be bad at yoga.” He looked at me. “Would you care to jump in?”
I tried to be polite. “I haven’t known you for that long.”
“But I'm sure you have something to say on the subject?” I didn’t need to be asked twice.
“I guess the fact that you seem to have everybody and everything could be considered a weakness.”
“And I guess that your ability to wildly misunderstand peoples is yours.”
Sometimes the dialogue is jarring and a little too preoccupied with being Austen-esque. Modern teenagers don’t really bandy about words like ‘scoundrel’, ‘vile’ or ‘whom’ in every day conversation. But for the most part, the dialogue can be put down to hoity-toity trust-fund talk.

Eulberg’s ‘Prom and Prejudice’ further proves how wonderfully timeless Jane Austen’s work really is. Austen works well against the high school backdrop, and Eulberg deftly modernizes the lessons of her classic tale. Instead of marriage-minded mamas scouting for the best husband-material, it’s high school vipers spreading vicious rumours. Superb!

This is the sort of book that Austen fans will happily devour, but it’s also a wonderful and fresh adaptation by which to introduce a new crop of kids to Ms Austen. I envision mother’s who saw themselves in Lizzie Bennett encouraging their young daughters to read ‘Prom and Prejudice’ and meet a timeless heroine who will stay with them forever.

5/5

2 comments:

  1. I have a soft spot for modern Austen take-offs. This is the first one YA one I've seen and it's definitely on my TBR list. Great review!

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  2. I've been seeing this one around and it does sounds awesome! Though I have yet to read an Austen novel =/ =P

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