Saturday, January 15, 2011

P&P Cute as Can Be

As you may have noted in the post below, the next book on my list after that infamous one was another from the P&P genre, again recommended on austenprose.  This one is a modern take on P&P - that's another category that always peaks my interest.  I sent a link to Sarah Sp., and she not only promptly ordered it, she made sure I got to read it first - really Elisheva read it before I did but that's because I didn't go pick it up.  And she left in for me to pick up before she left on her trip so I felt very much in debt to both those wonderful girls for their considerate care - thanks :) Anyway, this one is a YA novel... I feel like that's been done before but I can't recall that I've read any previous takes.  So there was some excitement in it, tempered by my ambivalent attitude toward YA chic lit.  I mean, come on, we all like a little fantasy, but does anyone believe in happy-ever-after for these guys? More like happily-until-graduation at best... And of course there's the thing that I just find high school drama overly compelling - I mean, of course I sympathize with their friends issues and their parents issues and their college issues... but that's all so over for me I just have a hard time getting in to it (am I being an old crone? I don't think so, so maybe there's something else I just find uninteresting? No it's pretty much that I have no patience for people who I simply view as immature babies - and yes, I know that to much of the world, that's exactly what I am :)).  Anyway, the point is, it's not like I was expecting *that much* from this book.

Actually I feel like I knew exactly what to expect from this book:
1) YA - so inherently less interesting, see above
2) Pride and Prejudice - so a great romance :)
3) Pride and Prejudice retold - so somewhat off-tune at times, where the details are a bit forced.
And that pretty much sums up what I got, so brilliant me :) You know, I just realized I haven't posted the book title yet - it's Prom and Prejudice, by Elizabeth Eulberg.  Anyway, right off, I got annoyed because the main character was a teenager in a fancy school who doesn't really fit it in - so we've got #1 right off - high school angst up to the ceiling.  Besides that, I didn't like that she was the one who didn't fit in, the uncool one - Elizabeth may not be as rich as Darcy, but she's pretty much it in her sphere.  And she's pretty happy with her life as it is - other than the fact that there's no one for her to marry of course.  But trust me, if she was writing a book, she would not launch into complaints about her neighbors within the first two pages... That being said, Lizzy in this book doesn't hate her life that much... she has a chip in her shoulder about her ridiculously entitled classmates, but then Elizabeth has a bit of chip in her shoulder too... when it comes to Darcy at least, not really any place else that I've seen.  And more about her ridiculously entitled fellow students - that's shades of #3, where the story is stretched to fit the P&P plot.  Of course fancy boarding schools are full of snobby kids... but as nasty and at the same time as vanilla (not like we're talking drugs and whatnot) as these? nah... and I feel like part of the reason the setting is just so over the top was that the point of the book was more modern P&P than realistic and compelling high school tale.

....But why would  I complain about that? I have zero interest in compelling high school novels :) And yes, there was lot that felt forced about this book... Darcy for one does *not* seem like a seventeen-year-old.  And Wickham's evil influence on the weak and vain Lydia? Yeah, it's not the Girl Scouts, but she isn't exactly ruining her sisters' chance at a normal life forever... But the truth is, forcing is really a natural product of trying to turn a nineteenth century novel by a master writer into anything else... I am even ready to be *slightly* more forgiving of Regina Jeffers... well maybe not.  But when you read a P&P inspired book, you just can't complain that it's not as good as the original.  And more importantly, you can't complain that it's not as good as other books of its "other" genre, because they really have another goal in mind.  So I definitely give Prom and Prejudice some slack when it comes to eye-roll worthy situations.  And there were a few of those, but nothing too overwhelming really.

So #1 and #3 were right there... what about #2? And of course, since that's the reason I read this book, that is of course the crucial question.  Drumroll please.... Yes! We had #2.  Quite a decent romance.  I mean, totally cutesy of course, this being high school, but Darcy done right, even as a teenage boy, is still dreamy :) Dignified but such a softie underneath :) wise, kind, handsome, capable... oh come on, he's Darcy :) Can you see I can't stop smiling? I don't know why you'd expect anything otherwise.  Okay, I'm getting a little too rhapsodic, because of course Will Darcy the Pemberley Academy student is not Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberley, Derbyshire, but he's nothing to sniff at.  And he loves our Lizzy of course.  Our Lizzy herself is not a bad sort either - she's smart and capable and phenomenally talented musically, which was a nice bonus.  So yeah, it was a good story.  But it was high school after all that.  There's just no angst, because there can't be.  Even I can't suspend my disbelief enough to think anyone's lives are going to be materially affected if these characters never get over their initial, unfounded, dislike.

I'd say the best I could say about this story is that it's cute.  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I've read even some regular old chic lit that I'd give a higher rating than cute too... not that much, admittedly.  And on the plus side of recommendation, Huvi and S.b. both read this over Shabbos too, and they both thoroughly enjoyed it.  Found it cute as I did, but apparently don't have the same hang-ups about high school and so were able to enjoy it a bit more thoroughly.  Bottom line: I'm not telling you you have to read this, but I'm pretty sure if you take the very minimal time it takes to get through it (we're really talking an hour or two), you won't regret it.

Verdict: 3/5

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