Lizzie’s “secret” diary written during the timeline of the videos! Squee!
I might be a teensy bit obsessed with Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen.
The number of times I’ve read the book can’t be counted–I’ve got it in paperback (three copies, I think? No, wait–four. We have the LBD version too), hardcover (twice, at least), digital (two copies? three? not sure), and on audio (again, twice. Not sure why). I’ve owned two copies of the 1995 BBC classic on DVD (two words: COLIN FIRTH), and one of the Keira Knightley one (it’s definitely not the most true-to-the-original version, but it does have its merits–plus, you can watch it in an afternoon).
I resisted watching the YouTube sensation The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for the longest time. I said things like, “It can’t possibly compare to the original,” and “I’m an English major, for God’s sake!” and “How dare they mess with Jane Austen!” and “Remember that horrible movie version with Greer Garson and Lawrence Olivier?” <shudder>
Don’t even get me started on the horror that is Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Ugh–a travesty. 🙁
But–finally–I gave in to the inevitable.
Cassidy Tucker’s experience with this closely mirrors my own–seriously, it’s freaky. Just substitute the entire Internet for the friend “before” who is trying to get her to watch the web show, and Mini Moe #2 for the friend “after” when they squee and agonize about it together:
(Thanks to Mini Moe #2 for bringing that video to my attention. I’m sure the fact that one of her Internet idols was loving the series too added to her obsession as well, so thank you, Cassie Jay!)
On the plus side, by the time I finally caved the season was more than three-quarters over, so I could binge watch the first 80+ episodes all in one weekend and didn’t have to wait months and months to finally see Darcy. (EPISODE 60. Seriously! Gah!)
But then waiting for the rest of the series one episode at a time was TORTURE. Worth it, of course, but still torture. (EPISODE 98. THEY DON’T KISS UNTIL EPISODE 98!)
Naturally I jumped right on the Kickstarter campaign that Pemberley Digital put together to release the entire series on DVD (even though you can still watch the whole series online for free here, it was totally worth it).
When I found out that there was going to be a book version, Lizzie’s “secret” diaries during the time frame of the videos, I naturally pre-ordered it. THEN I found out that there’d be an audio version, read by Ashley Clements, Lizzie in the videos…so yeah, bought that too.
Pemberley Digital sooooo has my number. But I digress…
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet: A Novel
by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick (aka historical romance writer Kate Noble)(they also wrote the series screenplay)
A modern adaptation of Pride and Prejudice based on the Emmy Award-winning and hugely popular YouTube series and transmedia project The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
There is a great deal that goes into making a video blog. Lizzie Bennet should know, having become a YouTube sensation over the course of her year-long video diary project. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries may have started as her grad student thesis, but it grew into so much more, as the videos came to inform and reflect her life and that of her sisters, beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When rich, 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. People watched, debated, tweeted, tumblr’d, and suddenly Lizzie, who always considered herself a fairly normal young woman, was a public figure. But not everything happened on-screen. Luckily for us, Lizzie kept a secret diary.
Following the structure of the Jane Austen classic, with each chapter also complementing the addictive videos, this standalone novel has plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and hook new readers. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like it’s never been done before
The Secret Diaries does a great job of filling in the blanks left by the video series. Through them, we finally “see” Lizzie’s parents, and scenes like dinner at Catherine DeBourgh’s, the “most awkward dance ever”, and Lizzie, Darcy, and GiGi’s day touring San Francisco. We also see a whole lot more of the behind-the-videos relationship between Lizzie and her sisters, especially more of Lydia.
(The Lydia of this universe is one of my favorite parts of the series, by the way. Granted, her character ends up being one of the biggest changes from Austen’s original–not just a modern adaptation, but an actual change–but I like it. It really makes the relationship between the three sisters a major part of the story, not just Elizabeth and Jane’s, which is awesome. Plus, it lets me use this as the “strong sibling relationship” for Summer Bookish Bingo–so, score!)
Only a very few scenes didn’t quite live up to my expectations–most notably, Lizzie’s description of seeing Darcy for the first time in San Francisco almost felt like a whole different scene from the way she describes it in her diary (or it would be more apt to say, doesn’t describe it). For a couple of other scenes she just posted transcripts of instead of giving us the inside scoop–though if you’re reading a print version, it’s done so it looks like she actually taped them in there with fancy tape, which is really cute.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book, and combined with the videos it’s even more true to the overall story arc of the original Pride and Prejudice than the videos by themselves. If you haven’t watched the videos (but why? Why haven’t you? You really should) I think it would work okay as a standalone. If you haven’t read P&P (again, WHY?) it would still make for a good story.
(As a bonus, if you’re reading a digital version on a web-enabled device, there are links to each video as they occur in the narrative. That alone ensures I’m going to be reading it again. SOON.)
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A-
Haven’t seen the series yet? Check out the first video below!
And yes, Lizzie’s makeup in it is HORRIBLE. I remember thinking the first time I watched it–please tell me she’s not going to wear that much makeup every video! I don’t think I can watch it! It was so funny to hear Lizzie agonize over her atrocious makeup in her “diary”!
(Oh, and I might have had the all-Darcy, all the time video playlist running while I did this post. No, I don’t think I have a problem. It’s WILLIAM DARCY.
See for yourself:
This post wouldn’t be complete without a plug for Pemberley Digital’s latest, Emma Approved, based on Austen’s Emma, of course. If you haven’t been watching it, now’s the perfect time to start–the series is almost complete, so you’ll have to do the agonizing wait-for-the-next-episode thing way less than the rest of us have had to. 😉
Their next series isn’t an Austen adaptation (darn!) but instead a collaboration with PBS–Frankenstein MD, based on–you’ve got it–Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Looks interesting!