After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious Longbourn Academy become obsessed with the prom. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on a scholarship, isn’t interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be – especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London. Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance but less than impressed by Charles’s friend, Will Darcy, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk – so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?
This is one of my least favourite P&P re-tellings (and I’ve read a fair few). It’s a sweet book, but one I feel better suited for junior readers looking for a quick, fluffy read, as there’s no real substance to it.
Eulberg has taken the well-known names and put them in a modern setting but it lacks the spark, banter and wit of the original. There is no sense of setting and disappointingly, little character development at all. One of the things I love about the Elizabeth and Darcy is how they grow throughout the novel, the effect they have on each other. Lizzie here is a likable protagonist who does come to acknowledge some of her faults in Prom and Prejudice. I could relate to her feelings of loneliness and isolation as a victim of bullying as well. I also found it interesting that Eulberg has made Lizzie here a talented pianist when Elizabeth Bennet, as we all know, was particularly bad at playing. But Will is an underused and fairly dull character. An obvious good guy, just typically misunderstood. Sadly, a lot of modern adaptations seem to interpret Darcy this way (I’m looking at you P&P of 2005!) Will and Lizzie were cute but there was no spark, no tension, no any real antagonism between them.
The danger of writing a modern Pride and Prejudice with much younger characters is that the story can easily come across as superficial and the relationships less meaningful, and I feel that is, unfortunately, what has happened here. The importance of the prom didn’t work for me (we don’t really have them here and school dances just aren’t that big of a deal), though doubtless it will appeal to younger readers.
Prom and Prejudice is a nice story, but without the passion, wit, character progression or quiet observation of society that Austen captured so well. A light afternoon read for but pretty forgettable when all’s said and done.