I really did expect to like this. Even though Pride and Prejudice isn’t my favorite Austen, it seemed like a Jane Austen murder mystery was hardly something that I would be able to find much wrong with. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. The biggest problem with this book was that it genuinely wasn’t what it was advertised as. Aside from a few scenes where the dialogue was directly quoted from the original and character names, there is nothing about this book that would make it a retelling. None of the major plot points of the original were present. (Spoilers for Pride and Prejudice) Darcy and Elizabeth don’t meet at a party. Darcy never says Lizzie isn’t pretty. Darcy never proposes to Lizzie the first time and is never refused. Bingley never even meets Jane. I could go on, but these are the main plotpoints of the original, and it seems difficult to claim that this is a retelling without them. The only real storyline that it could be claimed was followed to some extent was Wickham and Darcy’s history, and even that is not carried out, because Lydia never goes off with Wickham, repeating the past. Of course, some change is allowed and expected in retellings, but there is an expectation that some of the original storyline will be preserved, and I didn’t feel like that happened here.
Another point which bothered me was the amount of “not like other girls” ideology that seemed to be present in the book. This is some what inherent to Pride and Prejudice as well, but it seemed exaggerated here. All the other women seem horrified at the idea of a woman working, but Lizzie doesn’t care and consistently seems to believe that other women aren’t worth her time, repeatedly asking to see “Mr. Bennet” instead of his wife and sister, even though in reality they might have information just as if not more useful to her.
I did however, think the concept of the book was interesting, if not the execution. Because I recently finished Great Expectations I was also able to recognize elements of London’s criminal justice system, which I enjoyed. If I hadn’t gone in with the expectation of this being a P&P retelling I might have enjoyed it more. Then again, I might not have picked it up in the first place.
Overall I thought this was a fun concept, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it didn’t live up to my expectations or its premise.