Desert Isle Keeper
Pride and Premeditation
Pride and Premeditation hits a lot of notes that tempt me – it’s a Jane Austen retelling, a murder mystery, and an historical romance.
This novel sets Elizabeth Bennett in London as the daughter of a barrister striving to prove her worth. She is the second of five sisters, and while Lizzie wants nothing more than to practice law, her mother worries more over her marital prospects. Lizzie does a lot of work behind the scenes at her father’s firm, but wants to be hired and formally trained. In order to show her father she has what it takes, Lizzie takes on a dubious case: a gentleman, Mr. Charles Bingley, has been accused of murdering his feckless brother-in-law.
Lizzie encounters Bingley, a charming fellow, and his less-than-friendly counsel, Mr. Darcy. While Darcy insists he has the case in hand, Lizzie disagrees with his methods, and conducts her own investigation. In seeking the truth, Lizzie encounters danger, lies, and conspiracies, all while continuing to bump into the frustrating and beguiling Mr. Darcy.
The path of Pride and Prejudice is one often trod, and there is a certain rhythm to a lot of stories that do a take on Jane Austen’s most famous work. This story completely throws convention out of the carriage, creating an all-new world populated with some familiar friends. It can be a bit repetitive to read the same story with different details over and over, but this novel is different. The murder-mystery really adds something, and the way Lizzie is characterized adds dimension to her personality. Not only is she ambitious and headstrong, but unlike the source material, she aspires to a profession, and she applies herself to a discipline. The role of the other Bennett sisters is drastically reduced, as the marriage plot takes a slight backseat. Readers who love to be annoyed by Mrs. Bennett will not be disappointed, she is truly a delight, and while Mr. Bennett is a tad more useful than you might remember him, he is also a treat.
The romance is stellar, and while it isn’t the main focus of the story, Lizzie’s growing awareness of Darcy is natural and their mutual respect is earned. Darcy’s character comes across honestly and his presence feels familiar and grouchy, just as fans love. There are some really romantic, sweet scenes that still have a lot of tension.
While this take isn’t entirely faithful to the source material, it works well as a narrative and the changes add to its appeal. In many ways, this retelling has some elements that I prefer to the original story. (Controversial, I know, but dear Jane didn’t have access to third-wave feminism. We can’t blame her for that!) I would sincerely recommend Pride and Premeditation to any fan of Austen retellings, or readers looking for some light murder mystery.