Book Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

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Title: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet

Author: Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

Published: 2014

Pages: 377

Genre: Romantic Comedy

Format: Book borrowed from the library

Reading Challenge: A book written by someone under 30

My rating: 3/5

Review: A contemporary spin on the classic Pride and Prejudice, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet gives a first-person voice to the main heroine, Lizzie Bennet as she battles the numerous challenges in her life. Finishing up her graduate degree in southern California, Lizzie Bennet lives at home with her parents, her beautiful, kind-hearted older sister Jane and her out of control younger sister Lydia. With their parents financially struggling to keep their home, the one thing that is counted on is Mrs. Bennet’s apt to play match-maker for her daughters which starts with the introduction of the newest inhabitant at Netherfield, the future doctor Bing Lee. As Bing is whisked away by Jane’s beauty, Lizzie and her best friend Charlotte Su are less inclined to have any relations with the hipster William Darcy of Pemberley Digital.

Regardless of these interpersonal interactions, Lizzie turns to the places where she wants to tell her story – her secret diary and her very public vlog. As part of her graduate thesis and independent study, Lizzie decides to create a series of video blogs documenting her life amidst the drama-filled Bennet household as well as her own personal life. What Lizzie soon finds out is that there are two sides to every story and to every person with her first impressions, as her growing viewer clientele remind her on a daily basis.

The story is enchanted with our favorite characters taking on more present-day roles: Jane Bennet in the design industry, Charlotte Su in communications and employed by Mr. Ricky Collins who reports to Catherine de Bourgh, the swim instructor George Wickham, and of course CEO William Darcy. Each of their interactions mimics the classic story without sacrifice. The setting of California gave the readers the sense of where the divides are of social standing with San Francisco and Los Angeles where Darcy and Bing frequent and a small suburb a few hours away that does not hold as much promise for a future doctor like Bing or the workaholic Darcy. With the number of children being reduced to 3 (Mary and Kitty are a cousin and household pet respectively) we are able to focus more on each of the sisters lives, especially that of Lydia who seems misunderstood.

I appreciated how Su and Rorick redefined the modern-day woman as opposed to Jane Austen’s time. The Bennet sisters are pursuing higher education as well as finding their own independence without the help of established men. Utilizing contemporary means of communication as well as the language and vernacular of the present, the backbone and structure Jane Austen created in her original work is still conveyed in this modern rendition. Most of the story, I was wondering how Su and Rorick were going to spin the original scenarios of the classic, yet was still entertained with the fresh perspective – especially when a few instances I was surprised at the route the authors took to convey the same messages.

The written story additionally stems from the Emmy award-winning YouTube Series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries which is an amiable companion to the story and give the readers more visual context for the characters. A quick, light read, I was left laughing and hoping Jane Austen would have written this version if she were around today.

Read The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet  if you like the themes of:

  • Wit
  • Independent Women
  • Sisterhood
  • Romance
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