Published by Touchstone on June 24, 2014
Genres: Family, Fiction, Friendship, Love & Romance
Based on the Emmy Award winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
Twenty-four-year-old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters - beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.
When rich and handsome Bing Lee comes to town, along with his stuck-up friend William Darcy, things really start to get interesting for the Bennets - and for Lizzie's viewers. But not everything happens on-screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet takes readers deep inside Lizzie's world and well beyond the confines of her camera - from the wedding where she first meets William Darcy to the local hangout of Carter's bar, and much more. Lizzie's private musings are filled with revealing details about the Bennet household, including her growing suspicions about her parents' unstable financial situation, her sister's budding relationship with Bing Lee, the perils of her unexpected fame, and her uncertainty over her future - and whom she wants to share it with.
Featuring plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers alike, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the web series phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like never before.
I believe that I’ve told the entire internet of my undying love of Pride and Prejudice and of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries multiple times already. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that I picked up the companion novel to the webseries, right? I wasn’t sure what to expect when I started reading* The Secret Life of Lizzie Bennet. Was it just going to rehash each episode of the series or was it going to be something new? Well, it ended up being a bit of both.
The book adds a whole new layer of depth to the webseries. I loved getting a more detailed look at Lizzie’s life and seeing things that didn’t happen on camera. For example, we get all of the details of when Lizzie first met George Wickham and how that encounter allowed him to charm the socks off her. But that’s not all, we get a closer look at her school and her interactions with Dr. Gardiner (her grad school advisor), we get conversations with Lizzie’s dad, and we even get new scenes that add a bunch to the narrative! The best thing about the writing in the book is that it uses Lizzie’s voice in a first person narration. Her voice is the same blend of intelligence, snark, and drama that we’ve come to expect from webseries Lizzie. This is a major contrast to the Lizzie in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because we don’t get a first person narration from her in the novel. Like in the videos, Lizzie is still quite an unreliable narrator which adds some more complexity to her character as we see her views start to change little by little and she starts to doubt that her initial impressions and opinions are correct.
A lot of the little details that are glossed over in the video diaries are given much more weight here. My favorite scene out of this book was the scene where Lizzie, Darcy, and Gigi are touring San Francisco! I remember being sad that we didn’t get to see it on video, so it was really fun to read about it. The interactions between Lizzie and Darcy that day were awesome!
One of my favorite things from the original Pride and Prejudice is the adorable, intellectual relationship that Lizzie and her dad share. We were able to see more of that relationship in this book which gave Mr. Bennet more of a role than he had in the videos. Every time he appeared in the book, it would make me smile. I also loved that he’s obsessed with trains and bonsai trees. It really fit his character.
While we did get a lot more detail and some new scenes, some of the diary entries were very similar to the videos which is to be expected. I was okay with that actually. The thing that really disappointed me was that there were a few key scenes that were written in a verbatim “transcript” format from the videos instead of the first person narration by Lizzie. I really wish that we could have gotten what was going on inside her head. Overall, it worked but those scenes were unsatisfactory and the reason I rated the book only four stars. In my opinion, there could have also been way more scenes with Fitz in the book. On the positive side, we did get the entire contents word for word of Darcy’s letter that is alluded to in the last half of the video series.
I really enjoyed The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet overall and I recommend it. The amount of detail was great and it was awesome seeing the deeper relationships between Lizzie, her family, and her friends. I never thought the webseries was missing anything, but the book gave the videos added dimension so the two together feel like a complete package instead of two separate entities. It still made me feel the same love for the romances and friendships that I did in the webseries and the original novel.
If you’re a fan of the webseries, you should definitely read this book! If you haven’t watched the series, you should fix that. Here’s a link to the land of Pride and Prejudice awesomeness.
*It should be known that I switched back and forth between the novel and the audiobook. I must say that the parts of the audiobook that I listened to were excellent. The narrator is Ashley Clements, the actress who played Lizzie in the videos. Her voice for Mr. Collins was hilarious. I’d highly recommend it as well as the book.
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