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Prom & Prejudice by Elizabeth Eulberg

What if Elizabeth and Darcy were high school students? That's the basic premise of Prom & Prejudice.

The book is mostly set at Longbourn Academy for girls and Pemberley Academy for boys: two private high schools in Connecticut for children of the rich and famous (most of whom seem to live in or near New York City). Of course, both schools take the occasional scholarship student, which is how high school junior Elizabeth "Lizzie" Bennet comes to be at Longbourn on a piano and academic scholarship. She was extremely fortunate to be assigned the sweet-natured Jane as a roommate, since so many of the girls at Longbourn are set on making her life a living hell. Malicious pranks are the order of her day, ranging from throwing a milkshake in her face to dumping coffee on her dress to stealing her coat at a restaurant in the middle of winter. Her only friends at Longbourn are Jane, who is just about the kindest person on the planet, and the only other scholarship student at the school, a girl named Charlotte.

Charles Bingley and Will Darcy are both juniors at Pemberley Academy. They spent the fall semester in London on some sort of foreign study program, along with Charles's twin sister, Caroline. Caroline is good friends with a perfectly horrible girl named Cat De Bourgh. Other characters include Jane's younger sister, Lydia, a freshman at Longbourn, Darcy's younger sister, Georgie, a freshman somewhere that is notLongbourn, Colin Williams, a rather tedious junior at Pemberley, and George "Wick" Wickham, a former scholarship student at Pemberley who got himself expelled. Lizzie is putting up with the horrible climate at Longbourn because she gets to study piano with Mrs Gardiner, one of the best instructors in the area. Lizzie wants to be a concert pianist, you see.

If you've read Pride & Prejudice, you know that Jane and Charles are destined to go to prom together (the high school substitute for marriage, evidently – and a welcome substitution if a concrete goal is to exist), and that Lizzie and Darcy are meant for each other as well. What you might not know is all the steps along the way, now that the protagonists are both high school juniors. And there's a lovely, unexpected twist to the ending that made me happy-happy-happy and gave the entire book deeper resonance. Just so you know.

Eulberg does a terrific job skimming the major plot points from Pride & Prejudice and running them through some sort of high school translation program. The long letter that Darcy delivers to Elizabeth in Austen's book is now a lengthy email, for example. And the activities that got Wick expelled from Pemberley are as horrifying to the modern reader as the sins laid at Wickham's feet in Austen's novel would have been to early 19th-century readers. The book manages to examine both the love relationships and at least some of the class issues found in Austen's book, and is a decidedly enjoyable read.

In the interest of full confession, M gave me crap for buying it the other day. Judging the book by its (very pink) cover and its title (a clear nod to Austen's novel), she figured it would be a waste of my time. I very much wanted to read it because, as many of you already know, I am currently working on a contemporary YA romance. What I haven't told you yet is that my current WIP is based on another of Austen's novels, so you can see how I'd be interested in Eulberg's book as part of my market research. Having gulped it down in one long (and late) sitting last night, I can assure you that it was a perfectly wonderful use of my time, and that I will make every effort to bludgeon M into reading it help M overcome her bias against bright pink books and Austen-related titles.

A lovely confection and a thoroughly delightful read, the book is recommended for fans of Austen's work as well as fans of contemporary YA romance. Though tamer than the Gossip Girl books, it'd be right up the alley of many of that series' readers, and perfect for those of you who especially like musically-inclined main characters, lifestyles of the rich & famous teens, or boarding school tropes. (You know who you are.)


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Comments

( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
wordsrmylife
Jan. 5th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)
This does sound like something like I need to read. Adding that to the list. Although given that we stopped at two bookstores today, it will be a while before I get there.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 5th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)
I really liked this one. It's certainly not the first re-make or re-imagining of P&P that I've read, but it may be the first one since Bridget Jones's Diary that I've actually liked a lot!
MLBrown_writes
Jan. 5th, 2011 09:22 pm (UTC)
I hadn't heard of this book, but now that I have, I must read it! It sounds like fun and how could it be otherwise with P&P as its premise?

Best wishes with your own writing. If you need another beta.... :)
kellyrfineman
Jan. 5th, 2011 09:29 pm (UTC)
It is a recent release, and is likely available at a B&N near you, if not at an independent (always preferable, but not, for me, always possible).

Thanks for those writing wishes - they are much appreciated! Speaking of which, I need to open Scrivener . . .
nottygypsy
Jan. 5th, 2011 09:41 pm (UTC)
This does sound like a fun read. Interesting to see what is coming from Netflix next, as I just watched my A&E P&P again and am following your P&P discussion.

http://www.netflix.com/Movie/Lost-in-Austen/70114373?trkid=204767

I read a book I think was similar to this plot but can't recall the name. I'll let you know what I think of it, or if you've seen it, tell me what you think.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:07 am (UTC)
I saw it and I liked it . . . it's a qualified remark, because I didn't like everything about it, but there are some brilliant moments, as when the girl from today asks Mr. Darcy to go get wet in a lake or fountain or something.
nottygypsy
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:27 am (UTC)
I'll look forward to it with a grain of salt then. ;)
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 04:12 am (UTC)
Yes. Look forward to the book without reservation, but to Lost in Austen with a caveat.
(Deleted comment)
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
I picked it up because of my WIP (with a side of "because we're covering P&P right now"), but I read the first two chapters in the store and it was decidedly worth taking home.
msbookish
Jan. 5th, 2011 10:26 pm (UTC)
Sounds like a good read - love it when you can also say you had to read a great book in the interests of market research!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:11 am (UTC)
It's a nice side benefit.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 5th, 2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
tanita says:
DUDE. I love you and all, but I am SO with M. on this one. I happily FLUNG Prada and Prejudice into the bin to give away after the Cybs last year. Egads.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
Re: tanita says:
I read that one and (without meaning any offense to its lovely author), it just didn't work for me. But this one totally worked.
(Anonymous)
Jan. 6th, 2011 09:35 am (UTC)
Re: tanita says:
Oh, too right -- no offense to its author -- my niece LOVED IT. But I have a THING about the whole Prada thing anyway...
robinellen
Jan. 6th, 2011 12:30 am (UTC)
I definitely know I'm one of those, and I just put it on hold at our library (whee)!!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:12 am (UTC)
Which of the tropes are yours? Boarding school? Rich kids? Enquiring minds want to know.
robinellen
Jan. 6th, 2011 04:59 am (UTC)
Boarding school ;) (And of course, JA fan, ha.)
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 05:30 am (UTC)
I know boarding school is a big trope for a lot of readers - just like orphans (one of my faves). Orphans at a boarding school would send (and/or has sent) some people I know into an orbit of sheer joy.
kimberleylittle
Jan. 6th, 2011 02:51 am (UTC)
You said: "What I haven't told you yet is that my current WIP is based on another of Austen's novels . . . "

Really, Kelly? I *never* would have guessed you'd be writing an Austen-based novel! ;-)

(Can't resist teasing you . . . )

Your music: Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini is one of my ALL TIME FAVORITE PIECES!!! Ever since the amazing "Somewhere in Time" movie.
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:13 am (UTC)
Somewhere in Time is where I fell in love with that piece, too!

Yeah - the Austen-based novel probably isn't al that much of a surprise to some people. :)
kimberleylittle
Jan. 6th, 2011 03:16 am (UTC)
Oh, but Kelly, I think writing an Austen-based novel is SUPER COOL! Can't wait to read it!

I loved that music so much I ran out and bought it so I could play it on the piano myself. That movie makes me bawl and bawl.
p_sunshine
Jan. 6th, 2011 07:45 pm (UTC)
Oh. Well, yay! I enjoy some of the Austen modernizations, though I've read a couple that I didn't like and haven't really looked at that "genre" in a while. Good to know that this one might fit the bill the next time I'm in that mood.
Side note - P and I watched Vampires Suck the other night and laughed so much. Loved it!
kellyrfineman
Jan. 6th, 2011 10:27 pm (UTC)
This particular modernization was quite well-done, I thought.

I'd heard only bad reports of Vampires Suck, so I'm pleased to hear you enjoyed it so much!
simplesimon
Jan. 9th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
Well, there are a few fart jokes, but for the most part, it was pretty awesome. I understand why it didn't do well in theatres - it's directed at such a small audience - those who a) enjoyed Twilight and b) have no problem poking fun at it.
simplesimon
Jan. 9th, 2011 02:19 pm (UTC)
Ack - that was p_sunshine - I'm on my husband's computer
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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