Synopsis: 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.
Review: 4/5 stars
- If you haven’t read Pride & Prejudice, what are you doing with your life?
- If you have read Pride & Prejudice but you haven’t watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, what are you doing with your life?
- If you have read Pride & Prejudice but and watched The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, read this book.
God, I love P&P. I have a strange fascination with romance novels (and rom-coms, for that matter), because very frequently I feel nothing when I’m reading them. But Pride & Prejudice is not in that group. Its better adaptations aren’t either, and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is totally one of the better adaptations.
The concept is essentially a modern day retelling, with Lizzie Bennet as a grad school communications major creating video diaries based on her life. Darcy owns a digital tech company (as does Ricky Collins), Bing Lee (okay, not my favorite twist) is a trust fund med student, Catherine de Bourgh is a venture capitalist, Charlotte is a fellow grad student and the video diaries’ editor. Lydia is a party girl and Jane is ridiculously kind (too kind, if you ask me). Kitty is a literal cat and Mary is a cousin. It’s all so fun.
It doesn’t always work, though. Jane Austen is subtle, as was the web series in its own way–yes, the videos are fully from Lizzie’s perspective, and her status as the “prejudice” leads to broad-stroked renderings of events, but there is still that certain surprise at Darcy’s interest and all the miscommunications. The book finds a lack of the subtlety one could argue the videos have in excess. In attempting to hint at Darcy’s interest in Lizzie and explain how it seems Jane could be uninterested in Bing, it makes both entirely too clear. What’s the fun in that?
Still, I’m struck by how clever this retelling is. It doesn’t want, strangely, for a lack of (a traditional) Kitty and Mary in the household, the grad school format works well, and the Ricky Collins plotline is full-on genius. The series totally deserved all of its lauding, and the book is a fun read for those who have and haven’t seen it. (Still, I recommend watching the vids.)
Bottom line: all my Austen-holics out there, go to YouTube and search “lizzie bennet diaries.” You’ll be so happy you did! (Everyone else: become an Austen fan, stat!)