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If Pride and Prejudice were a snow globe, Emma Hox has taken the story and given it a sturdy shake. From the first pages of Longbourn's Unexpected Matchmaker, we see the events slowly falling into place in a completely new way. You know how it will end, but it is a delightfully new path that will get you there.
From the back of the book: "Elizabeth Bennett, the second of five daughters to Mr. Thomas Bennett has caught the attention of the rich and handsome Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy almost from the moment he laid eyes on her, but when he purposefully misinterprets her family's expectation of her marrying well and slights her in a way unknown to those who have always loved Jane Austen’s acclaimed Pride and Prejudice, he must leave forever or make amends. Sulking in the library he determines to leave the place and give her up, but is waylaid by a member of the Meryton neighborhood who claims an intimate acquaintance with the Bennet family and offers up advice on how to win Elizabeth’s heart."
Revisit vs. Rehash: A
Nit Picky Things: A-
Wonderful Moments: A
The moment I was hooked: A+
Language: Authentic enough that I could hear a British accent but I didn't need a thesaurus.
Characterization: The key, for me, to making a re-telling or spin-off tale believable is to maintain the characterization. If Mrs. Bennet is high strung, Elizabeth head strong and Mr. Darcy has enough Mr. Darcy-ness, then I am most pleased.
I greatly enjoyed the expanded role that Mr. Bennet played in this book. Questions I didn't even realize I had were answered in a way that I now have trouble telling Austin's Mr. Bennet from Hox's.
Darcy felt a little more Matthew Macfadyen than Colin Firth in sentimentality. (But perhaps I am the only romantic saying, "Be more haughty and less lovie-dovie.") I had to keep reminding myself in the early chapters this is a re-telling. And then I really sunk into the story and loved Mr. Darcy as the romantic pursuer. It was wonderful to have so much of the story about Darcy and Elizabeth being together instead of having them pulled apart.
The villains in this version were especially villainous. I like for my heroes to be heroic, the maidens to be pure and the villains to be horrible. I also enjoy silent movies from the 1930's. I wonder if there is a connection?
Plot: For every person who has ever read Pride and Prejudice and said, "Would someone just say how they really feel, for crying out loud?"...You will like this plot. From the first lines, Hox respectfully re-tells the story that veers very far away from visits to Rosings and chance meetings at Pemberley. While I did miss the tension of these moments, I marveled at how just changing a few facts in the beginning of the story made those scenes unnecessary.
Mr. Darcy's relationship with the "friend of the family" who guides him to understanding Elizabeth Bennet better, becomes a tool for allowing the reader to learn more about Darcy's past through my favorite form of text: dialogue.
I found myself reading the last lines of the last paragraph on the last page and feeling exactly the same as when I finished Pride and Prejudice for the first time: A little annoyed that there weren't a few more pages.
Rehash or Revisit: Not really an issue as this is a re-telling. I do believe Ms. Hox assumes you have read Pride &Prejudice. However, it is not a prerequisite for enjoying the story.
Nit Picky Things: I would have liked for the villains to have been included in the action just a bit more. And more Mr. Collins. Always, always more Mr. Collins.
Wonderful Little Moments: Elizabeth and Jane's conversations, the roses, the mysterious stranger in the library.
Originality: I have read 17 re-tellings/spin off books from Pride and Prejudice. A lot of them feel similar. This one felt completely different from all of them. In fact, I had to remind myself not to hold that against the book at points.
The moment I was hooked: Page 1. Jane and Elizabeth sit upon their beds and discuss the bachelors who have recently let Nethfield. Their warmth and words, while completely different from the original, felt absolutely believable.
At the end, most of my main characters were where I expected them to land. And my Pride and Prejudice bubble, where my brain loves to live even as my body folds laundry and wipes up spills, stayed inflated just a little bit longer. And for that, Mrs. Hox, I thank you.
If this book were a movie, it would be PG-13 because of the discussions about post married life. However, as one of those over protective mother types (I don't deny it and am thinking of having t-shirts made up) I would rank it in the R category.
If you would like to win a copy of this book - just leave a comment.
I'd love to know your favorite characters you associate yourself with from any mediums.
(Mine: Claire Huxtable, Carol Seaver, Elizabeth Bennet, Emma, Cathleen Kelly)
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And you may enter as many times as you like.
I will post the randomly selected winner on Friday evening.
I will post an interview with the author, Emma Hox on Friday morning:)