Like I mentioned in my In My Mailbox post, Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan (originally published as Acting Up) is the first book that I bought this year. It’s a Pride and Prejudice retelling that Janice highly recommends. The only other Pride and Prejudice retelling that I’ve read is Austenland by Shannon Hale.
Here’s the summary from Melissa Nathan’s website:
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man in possession of a large ego must be in want of a woman to cut him down to size… Sharp, witty journalist Jasmin lands the role of Elizabeth Bennett in a one-off fundraising play adaptation of PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Hollywood heartthrob Harry Noble is playing Mr. Darcy, and is every bit as obnoxious as Jasmin could have hoped. This is Jane Austen’s matchless love story with added 21st century fizz.
Jasmin Field, known as Jazz to her friends, loves observing other people and criticizing them if they don’t live up to her standards, a trait that is perfect for her job as a journalist. When she gets invited to audition for an on-stage production of Pride and Prejudice for the benefit of cancer patients, she decides to go because it’s a great opportunity to scrutinize other people. Plus, she’ll get the inside scoop on some actors, especially big-time Oscar-winner Harry Noble who will direct the play. Jazz decides to bring her sister George (who’s an actress) and her best friend Mo with her. Things don’t go so well when Jazz overhears Harry describe her as “The Ugly Sister.” As a result, Jazz’s audition becomes impassioned and full of pent-up emotion. It doesn’t hurt that Pride and Prejudice is one of her favorite books so she knows the story well. To everyone’s surprise, including her own, Jazz gets the part of Lizzy Bennet. Interesting encounters ensue.
A modern-day Lizzy Bennet as a journalist is a great idea. I think it’s the perfect occupation for someone smart, funny and isn’t afraid to say what she thinks of other people. I enjoyed reading this retelling probably because I’m a fan of the original Pride and Prejudice. One small problem that I had was that the characters who are supposed to represent the ones from the original also play the same role in the stage production. Jazz is Lizzy in the play and she’s really the Lizzy of the story. Her beautiful sister George, who represents Jane, is cast as Jane in the play and her romantic interest Jack also represents Mr. Bingley and so on and so forth. I think it would’ve been better if more of the characters weren’t part of the play because it would make the premise more believable. Other than that, I enjoyed reading this retelling because I could relate to Jazz. I love that she’s too lazy to exercise and is appalled when Mo suddenly decides to go to the gym regularly. One of my favorite lines in the book is when Jazz was asked by Harry what makes her unhappy and she answers with, “Um. Finishing a bar of chocolate.” It was interesting to see where the author went in terms of variations to the original and how she adapted the story to a modern setting. There were times when we get to see Harry’s perspective and I thought it was funny how he didn’t understand why he found Jazz so intriguing. All in all, a good book to read when you want something light and fun and if you’re curious about Pride and Prejudice retellings. It saddened me to discover that Melissa Nathan passed away in 2006 but I’m interested in looking up the rest of her books. Let me know if you’ve read them and what you think of them. Also, please comment if you have other P&P retellings that you’d like to recommend.