I think you should watch the Lizzie Bennet Diaries

I know I’ve already posted about the Lizzie Bennet Diaries last year but I wanted to talk about it again because I’ve been trying to convince everyone I know to watch the series. You know you’re obsessing about something when you chat about it with book blogging buddies, real life friends, flatmates and co-workers. Some of them have never even heard of Pride and Prejudice so they don’t understand why I’m fangirling over this. What better way to encourage more people to follow the series than to put up a post about it here on my blog.

Lizzie Bennet

Image from the Lizzie Bennet Diaries website

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD) is a modern-day retelling of the beloved classic Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, which is one of my favorite books of all time (I even have a Penguin mug to prove it). The LBD is a web series told in diary format in the form of YouTube videos. Each video is about 3-6 minutes long so pretty easy to catch up if you haven’t seen the show yet. They now have 83 videos and the story is pretty near the end so I’m not sure how many more episodes there will be. The videos are posted twice a week, Mondays and Thursdays around lunchtime East Coast time so I get to see it Tuesday and Friday morning, my time.

Pride and Prejudice mug

In this series, Lizzie is a grad student still living at home with her parents, her big sister Jane and younger sister Lydia. With the help of her best friend Charlotte Lu, Lizzie starts her video diaries as part of a school project. What I love about the videos is how well-developed all of the characters are. We don’t get that much detail about secondary characters in the book but we do so in this retelling. Lizzie and most of the other characters are active on social media like Tumblr and Twitter, which makes the experience more interactive for viewers. I think it’s great that Charlotte is Asian in this adaptation so she’s a Lu instead of a Lucas. Darcy’s best friend is Bing Lee instead of Bingley. Jane is a fashionista and I found out about the vintage dress store, ModCloth from her (love their designs but I haven’t bought anything yet because the dresses are a bit pricey). And Lydia is also a great character – she’s just annoying in the book but in this series, you’ll end up rooting for her.

I have to be honest here, I didn’t love ALL of the videos and there were some weeks where I stopped watching for a while and then just caught up with everything in one go. But the story picks up as more characters are introduced and get shown in the videos. It really is a smart, fun series and it’s not a surprise that it’s popular in the book blogosphere. It is a retelling of a book, after all. I think the creators, writers and everyone involved in the series are doing an amazing job of staying true to the story but changing it in ways that make it more relevant to how we live now. I think it resonates with so many viewers because it feels realistic. So if you haven’t seen the Lizzie Bennet Diaries yet, give the series a try. Watch a couple of episodes and see how you like it. I promise, the episodes with Darcy in them are worth waiting for. Let me make it easy for you, here’s the first episode:

Have you seen the series? Are you also a fan? Feel free to gush about the series in the comments section (or send me a tweet whenever a new video comes up and you want to talk about it).

LBD posts from other book bloggers:
Bunbury in the Stacks
Things Mean a Lot
Iris on Books

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: Pride and Prejudice Vlog Retelling

Pride and Prejudice is my favorite Jane Austen novel so I was immediately curious when I first heard of the Lizzie Bennet Diaries from my friend Janice. It’s a modern-day Pride and Prejudice retelling, told in vlog format from Lizzie’s point of view. In this version, Lizzie is a twenty-four-year-old grad student living with her parents and her two sisters, Jane and Lydia. With the help of her best friend Charlotte Lu, Lizzie has recently decided to start a video diary. Her jump off topic? How Mrs. Bennet is determined to marry off her daughters to rich, young men. It’s an intriguing take on a beloved story and I can’t wait to watch the next videos. I think the actresses that they’ve chosen for the literary characters are pretty spot-on, so far. Wonder if they’ll show the heroes in future installments?

Here’s the first video if you haven’t seen it yet:

Hank Green, who produced this series together with Bernie Su, talks about the project in this post. Links to the next two episodes (fourth one will be up soon, I think):

My Sisters: Problematic to Practically Perfect
My Parents: Opposingly Supportive

I think the ones that have been uploaded are pretty hilarious. What do you guys think of this? Do you agree that it’s a fun way of retelling a well-known classic?

The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz

I can’t remember where I first heard about The Family Fortune by Laurie Horowitz but I do know that I became interested because it’s a retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion. I was glad to find a bargain copy in a Book Sale branch and when I went to the beach for a vacation, I decided to bring this with me because it seemed like the perfect light read. Also, look at that cover, doesn’t that make you want to read this book in a beach setting?

Here’s the summary from Goodreads:

Jane Fortune’s fortunes have taken a downturn. Thanks to the profligate habits of her father and older sister, the family’s money has evaporated and Jane has to move out of the only home she’s ever known: a stately brick town house on Boston’s prestigious Beacon Hill. Thirty-eight and terminally single, Jane has never pursued idle pleasures like her sibling and father. Instead, she has devoted her time to running the Fortune Family Foundation, a revered philanthropic institution that has helped spark the careers of many a budding writer, including Max Wellman, Jane’s first — and only — love.

Now Jane has lost her luster. Max, meanwhile, has become a bestselling novelist and a renowned literary Lothario. But change is afoot. And in the process of saving her family and reigniting the flames of true love, Jane might just find herself becoming the woman she was always meant to be.

The last time I read Persuasion was in college so the details are a bit fuzzy. So because I can’t remember much of the original, I’m going to review The Family Fortune on its own and won’t be able to compare it to the classic. It was easy to relate to thirty-eight year old Jane Fortune, who is the quiet one in her family. The Fortunes are members of the Boston elite and while her father and sister make the most out of their social circles, Jane is content to curl up at home with a good book. She also manages a literary paper called the Euphemia Review, which is funded by the family’s foundation. Here’s a nice quote from the book that I’m sure all book lovers will appreciate:

“Usually when I enter a bookstore, I feel immediately calm. Bookstores are, for me, what churches are for other people. My breath gets slower and deeper as I peruse the shelves. I believe that books contain messages I am meant to receive. I’m not normally superstitious, but I’ve even had books fall from shelves and land at my feet. Books are my missives from the universe.”

While I did enjoy reading The Family Fortune, there were several things that kept me from loving it. I liked the flashback scenes where Jane shares how she and Max fell in love with each other years ago but I didn’t think there was enough reason for them to break up. Also, I could understand that Jane never really got over Max but it seemed like there wasn’t enough of the present Max to fall in love with in the story. Jane and Max didn’t have enough scenes together for them to reconnect and realize that there’s still something between them. I can’t even remember most of their conversations. The other secondary characters, like Jane’s colleagues in the Euphemia Review felt more fully fleshed out than Max. The romance wasn’t swoon-worthy and that’s an important aspect of the novel. I enjoyed the first half of the book more than the second half because it had such a promising start. It’s still a good read if you’re in the mood for something light or if you’re a fan of Austen retellings. Let me know in the comments if there are other Austen retellings that I should check out.

Other reviews:
Steph Su Reads
Book Harbinger
Janicu’s Book Blog
Emily and Her Little Pink Notes

Pride, Prejudice and Jasmin Field by Melissa Nathan

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.

Other reviews: (manually generated)
Janicu’s Book Blog
Musings ‘n’ Murmurs