Goodreads: Darcy Swipes Left
Publication Date: Sept. 2016
Courtney Carbone retells Pride and Prejudice through a series of texts and social media posts.
I think any fan of Jane Austen and anyone who enjoyed The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will find this adaptation amusing. Mrs. Bennet posts awkward musings on her daughters’ relationship statuses, Lady Catherine refuses to use anything but proper grammar in her texts, and Lydia posts selfies with soldiers. Much of the retelling is rather clever, and who likes what status update can be quite telling. Best of all, Lizzy and Darcy both take notes about their days, so readers can see the story from Darcy’s perspective. I’m not entirely convinced Darcy would troll Miss Bingley by repeatedly telling her over text that he finds Lizzy #hot, but, all things considered, it’s a fun and imaginative retelling.
My first main criticisms have to do with how the social media aspect is handled. The summary tells us we are to imagine what would happen if the characters had had smartphones, but does not indicate whether the story is updated to a modern setting. If it is, why are they still using carriages? Why does Lydia “living in sin” matter to the family and their reputation? Why can’t the girls inherit their father’s property? The only thing updated is the fact that the story is told through texts and emojis.
And the story doesn’t always translate well when being retold this way. Why on earth would Mr. Darcy propose over text? Lizzy should have written in her diary about what he said to her. And, as with LBD, it’s sometimes unclear why these conversations are taking place publicly. Some are private texts, but some are public status updates. Would Lady Lucas really post that she wants to go over to Longbourne to measure the dining room, now that Charlotte is married to Mr. Collins? We know Mrs. Bennet doesn’t care about what she posts, but surely the others do. And I’m not convinced Lady Catherine would ever text anyone.
Finally, I don’t know anyone who texts the way these characters do. They use emojis the way Highlights uses rebus puzzles. It sometimes took me half a second to figure out what the characters were trying to say. Does anyone really use a suitcase emoji to say “suit” in the middle of a sentence? If’s almost as if the author trying to modernize this text doesn’t actually know how the young people talk these days.
Further, I think that if the author is going to retell the story this way, she should take advantage of her own medium. Why not add more private conversations between Lizzy and Charlotte, for examples? Or between Bingley and Darcy? Why adhere so closely to the original material when there are so many interesting things one could do with the text? I can’t believe Lizzy and Charlotte essentially never interact with each other when they are supposed to be best friends!
Altogether, however, the book is a fun read and Austen fans will likely find it amusing. I don’t know how well it would translate for readers who haven’t read P&P yet–they could follow the story but would miss all the in-jokes, which is half the fun–but it seems unlikely you’d pick this up unless you were already interested in Austen. A delightful way to spend a few hours.