Oh, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, how I adore them. As I mentioned when I finally read it, it took me a looooooong time to work up the will to sit down and finish Pride and Prejudice, due largely to the fact that I don’t read books from that time period and didn’t understand the nuances of class and society and all the things that make that book really good.
So The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, which is a modern-day adaptation of the book as a YouTube vlog, was perfect for me. Five unmarried daughters? So what? Three underemployed daughters still living under their parents’ roof while their parents are having financial troubles? That I understand. The series made the book so much clearer and more entertaining to me, and I maaaay have watched Episode 98 more times than I am willing to quantify in a public forum. Dizzie 4eva!
Naturally, when I found out that this book, which purports to be a sort of behind-the-scenes look at the vlog and Lizzie’s life in general, existed, I had to read it. Give me all the juicy details, Bernie Su!
There are some of those juicy details, definitely, like why Jane wanted to get the heck out of Netherfield and what exactly was in the letter Darcy gave to Lizzie (which is only really hinted at in the web series) and a better look at Lizzie’s transition from hatred to tolerance to love of Darcy, and if you’ve watched the series you’re probably going to enjoy reading the book.
But the novel as a novel is… lacking. It bounces between being Lizzie’s actual diary with actual diary-type writing and being more or less an updated version of the original Pride and Prejudice novel (now with more internets!) complete with long passages of quoted conversation that you would not see in an actual diary. It sometimes obliquely references events from the web series that I didn’t quite remember and sometimes copies verbatim the script but leaves out important things like stage directions and, you know, emotions. Episode 98 appears as just such a transcript, and considering most of that episode is pregnant pauses and searching looks, it does not come across well.
I’m left wondering if I’m missing something here — I read the book as an advance copy in ebook form and I’m hoping that the finished book fills in some of the missing context or has some kind of fancy formatting that make things make more sense. Fingers crossed?
Recommendation: If you’ve watched the series, go for it. If not, go watch the series immediately. It won’t take long.