Title: Prom & Prejudice
Author: Elizabeth Eulberg [website] [twitter] [facebook]
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Parental Advisory: drugs, alcohol, allusions to sexual — (all light)
Teachable Moments: bullying, peer pressure, passing judgment, navigating class structure
“I was in a daze as I got on the dance floor. It was like having an out-of-body experience. I found myself going through the motions, but also looking around trying to figure out where the ambush was coming from. Darcy slipped his arms around me, with much more ease than Colin had, and before I knew it, we were in something approximating an embrace. Darcy was several inches taller than me, and he leaned his head down so our eyes locked.
I was face-to-face with the enemy.”
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 frien, 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?
Will Lizzie’s pride and Wills prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the Making?
A shortened view of Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Eulberg adapts the well known story for a teen audience in which she centers the story around two posh New York City prep schools — Longbourn and Pemberly Acadamies.
Vapid rich mean girl types reign supreme at Longbourn and as one would expect they turn their noses up at the few scholarship students in attendance. They are cruel to these girls pulling hurtful pranks and making outcasts of them. As a result, the scholarship students are forced to endure higher levels of anxiety and stress and can find very little support or comfort. At the center of all this torment is Prom — the most highly-anticipated, exclusive and high-brow event on campus. An event that both encourages and intensifies the class war.
The story, while awesome conceptually, felt somewhat periphery. All of the big milestones are there, from Charles and Jane’s separation to Wick and Lydia’s running off, but overall the story felt a bit off to me. I wanted more depth, less story from 50-thousand feet and more at around 25-thousand. Moreover, I wanted to feel more of a connection. The original carries with it strong emotion and I didn’t feel as much that here.
This limited emotion and lack of connection is firmly planted in the fact that I found Will lacking in the charisma of the original Darcy. He was a bit flat and with little focus on his character outside of the expected instances exhibiting his prejudice I didn’t really feel like I cared one way or another if Lizzie ended up with him.
Despite this issue, the strength of this story is in how Eulberg adapted the characters to fit the teenage audience. Lizzie is a scholarship girl of little wealth who is befriended by Jane a girl of former wealth who is on her way down the ladder. Jane’s sister Lydia is also a student at Longbourn and has all the tact and etiquette of a bull in a china shop. Wick is the ever present bitter vengeful outcast playing foe to one and all. Close friends Charles Bingley and Will Darcy attend neighboring Pemberly and are regular visitors to Longbourn where they see Bingley’s sister Caroline (one of the aforementioned vapid rich mean girl types). Yes, she wants Darcy. Yes she wants to keep Jane from Charles. So though there are some differences in the relationships between how characters are placed on family trees some remain the same.
Eulerg is also a master of dialogue. Not one to ramble on unnecessarily her characters are well and appropriately spoken. When circumstances warrant there is great wit and humor then at other times anger, empathy, distress and a variety of other emotions all deftly expressed. There is no disguising her prowess with dialogue both internal and external.
Though I didn’t love this book as much as I was anticipating I did enjoy it for the light and fun read that it is. It’s a great piece of fluff with spots of angst for the reader who wants to see a bit of conflict. It follows closely (though in a unique and original way) Austen’s original plot thus making it a fun way for a new generation to learn about the story of Pride and Prejudice.