I’m a simple woman; show me a reimagining of either Sense and Sensibility or Pride and Prejudice, and you automatically have my attention.
In Pride and Premeditation by Tirzah Price, Lizzie Bennet is the daughter of a barrister, and is determined to practice law herself. So when a murder occurs, Lizzie sees her chance to prove herself in a field that doesn’t accept women. But when she attempts to represent the accused, Mr. Bingley, she discovers he already has representation—a man called Mr. Darcy, who doesn’t seem impressed by Lizzie’s interference. Determined to help anyway, Lizzie decides that the best way to prove Bingley’s innocence is to uncover the real murderer.
I’m not going to linger too much on the characters, because they all have pretty much the same traits as their Austen counterparts. Lizzie is stubborn and bright and feminist; Darcy is taciturn and awkward; Bingley is a little bumbling but sweet; and so on. Still, despite knowing them already, I enjoyed seeing them in this new situation.
Setting this in another universe where the Darcys and Bennets are lawyers is kind of a strange choice, especially since it isn’t entirely believable that Lizzie would be allowed anywhere near this investigation. It feels fairly anachronistic, though it’s a deliberate choice by the author. She just wants to have fun with the characters, and I can’t find fault with that. Write what you love, and that’ll show in the book. I mean, I had fun.
I still don’t know the difference between a barrister and a solicitor (and I admit I didn’t bother looking it up), but it ended up not really mattering. This is, rather than a courtroom drama, more like a detective story. Honestly, Lizzie, I don’t think you actually want to practice law; I think you want to solve crimes. Still, the evidence-gathering, suspect-interrogating, theory-developing parts of this book were well done.
I also liked what Price did with the characters of Mr. Collins and Lady Catherine. I didn’t really expect it to go the way it did, but I enjoyed it.
In the end, Pride and Premeditation is a light-hearted Regency murder mystery, featuring adapted Austen characters that are just different enough from their original forms to make the story work. The banter is decent, the mystery well formed, and the romance isn’t as over the top as I feared (as they can sometimes be in young adult novels). It’s not entirely a believable scenario, but ultimately it’s still fun.
Overall rating: 8.5/10