Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate RorickThe Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su, Kate Rorick
Published by Touchstone on June 24, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 400
Format: Paperback
Source: BEA
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four-half-stars

A modern adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice based on the Emmy Award-winning phenomenon, 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 chronicled Lizzie's life as a twenty-four-year-old grad student, struggling under a mountain of student loans and living at home with her two sisters—beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. What may have started as her grad student thesis grew into so much more, as the videos came to inform and reflect her life and that of her sisters. 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. 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.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet provides more character introspection as only a book can, with revelatory details about the Bennet household, including Lizzie's special relationship with her father, untold stories from Netherfield, Lizzie's thoughts and fears about life after grad school and becoming an instant web celebrity.

Written by Bernie Su, the series' executive producer, co-creator, head writer, and director, along with Kate Rorick, the novelist, TV writer, and consulting producer on the series, the novel features a journal-entry format and design, complementing the existing web series, while including plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers alike. 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.

This is the first book I’ve finished in over a week, and, damn, does it feel good to be back. The stress of planning for BEA and the busy-ness that being there entailed made reading impossible for me. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet was the last book I got at BEA, courtesy of my dear friends Debby (Snuggly Oranges) and Gillian (Writer of Wrongs) who snagged it for me. To bring me out of my non-reading funk, I needed something light and easy, and The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet was just the ticket, considering that I was already very familiar with the plot. While I can’t say the book version is as good as the YouTube series, it is a delightful complement which I’m so glad I read.

It will probably shock no one to know that Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books of all time, arguably my very favorite as I’ve read it more than any of the others, except maybe HP1. That said, The Lizzie Bennet Diaries is assuredly my favorite adaptation, surpassing even Colin Firth, something I didn’t know was possible. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are an amazing modernization, and make me so happy in so many ways, which I’ll explain, but they do leave a few aspects out. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet captures those and, combined with the YouTube series, completely captures Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is largely composed of what you already know from the videos. There’s no way around that, and there’s lots that’s repetition. However, if you have an eye for detail, there’s so much to enjoy. For one thing, aspects that are glossed over in the series, like the sexuals, are clearly canon in the novel. Basically, everyone’s getting some and it’s completely official now. Awww yeah. For all that Lizzie discusses sensitive family issues in the videos, they’re still censored in ways her personal diary is not.

Of course, all the wonderful parts of the videos are still present, though a bit less dynamic than in video form. Lydia’s character receives the best treatment I’ve ever seen, being both true to Austen’s and yet so lovable. All of the sisters are struggling to figure out who they are and what they want to do with their lives. The Lizzie Bennet Diaries are sex-positive and all about first impressions. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet highlights the themes very clearly, and might actually help those who struggled with Pride and Prejudice understand the emotional arcs and lessons of Austen’s novel.

Another charming aspect of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is learning who knows about the videos and how they react to them. The audience knows when certain people find out, but only when they say so on camera. However, both Bing and Mr. Bennet learn before the end, which really changes the dynamics in subtle ways. Speaking of the latter, my feels in the print book came almost entirely from Mr. Bennet’s relationship with Lizzie.

In Pride and Prejudice, Lizzie and her father have a very close relationship. They have similar interests and senses of humor, something that’s only glancingly hinted in the videos, since he’s not actually in them. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet gets across precisely the Mr. Bennet from Austen’s novel, and it’s so adorable. A lot of my favorite moments of the original and The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet are their interactions.

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet are an essential complement to the perfection that is the web series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. If people are hesitant to take the time on the series, giving them the book first might work, though I think it works better as a follow up personally. True fans of the series will want this to see how much more back story was built in, because it is impressive.

Favorite Quote:

Don’t get me wrong, Bing and Caroline have been great, but there is only so long a person can be on her absolute best behavior without psychosis setting in.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

gif lizzie bennet diaries i regret nothing

8 responses to “Review: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su & Kate Rorick”

  1. Aw, yea! I absolutely loved this web series – I think I binge watched it in two days. I thought it was so cute. I hadn’t realized a “behind the scenes” book was coming out, too. I’ll definitely have to read this as well, being a huge fan of Pride and Prejudice as well.

    I absolutely adore the relationship between Lizzie and Mr. Bennett, so I’m glad that integrated that somehow. Glad this didn’t dissapoint!
    Andrea @ Bookish recently posted…The Edge of Falling by Rebecca Serle (Review)My Profile

    • *disappoint

      hehe, oops!

    • Christina Franke says:

      I’ve watched the web series twice, and I think it was even better the second time. I am obsesssssed with it a bit. You need to read it, because Mr. Bennet feels. I love him so much, and they’ve got the neglectful bits but also the charming, lovely fatherness.

  2. Isa says:

    Ahhhh, your review makes me very excited for this!
    Isa recently posted…[Isa] Perfect Scoundrels (Heist Society #3) by Ally CarterMy Profile

  3. Meg says:

    Yessssss. Want to read ASAP. Thank you for mentioning the sexuals. Not going to lie, this amped my excitement an extra amount. Also maybe reading this will motivate me to finish watching the show. *ducks and hides from anticipated projectiles*
    Meg recently posted…We’re Off to Book Expo America!My Profile

    • Christina Franke says:

      The sexuals aren’t explicit btw. They’re casually referenced in conversations mostly. But hey, they are there, and my headcanon can go to town.

      ALSO FINISH THE DAMN SERIES YOU HEARTLESS MONSTER.

      (I don’t get to yell at other people for being heartless very often. It feels nice.)

  4. […] and Prejudice was adapted into The Lizzie Bennet Diaries which has been adapted into this book.  Christina at A Reader of Fictions gave it a lovely review.  And it has Darcy’s letter.  Ladies and Gentlemen pre-order […]

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