Goodreads: Pride and Premeditation
Series: Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1
When a scandalous murder shocks London high society, seventeen-year-old aspiring lawyer Lizzie Bennet seizes the opportunity to prove herself, despite the interference of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, the stern young heir to the prestigious firm Pemberley Associates.
Convinced the authorities have imprisoned the wrong person, Lizzie vows to solve the murder on her own. But as the case—and her feelings for Darcy—become more complicated, Lizzie discovers that her dream job could make her happy, but it might also get her killed.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged that a brilliant idea, conceived and executed by a clever young woman, must be claimed by a man.”
Pride and Premeditation is a lighthearted retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that centers the action not around romance, but rather around mystery. Lizzie Bennet is an enterprising young woman determined to uncover the true killer of Mr. Bingley’s brother-in-law, lest Mr. Bingley be found guilty instead. Getting in her way, however, is the ambitious (and handsome) Mr. Darcy, who, like Lizzie, wishes to prove himself in order to advance in his father’s law firm. While character names are consistent with the original novel, most of the plot points are not. Pride and Premeditation will likely appeal most to Jane Austen fans who do not find the original text sacred, and who are willing to accept a number of historical inaccuracies along with numerous deviations from Austen’s work.
Like many books written by contemporary authors, but set in the past, Pride and Premeditation imagines an alternative Georgian era, where young ladies have far more agency and social leeway than they really did. Lizzie not only believes that she can one day become a solicitor in her father’s law firm, but also routinely roams about the town all by herself–but also sometimes arm-in-arm with a dashing young man. Unchaperoned, too! Readers looking for a historically accurate depiction of Jane Austen’s time period will not find it here, because, in all truth, being historically accurate would make the plotline impossible. Pride and Premeditation is thus a book best enjoyed by those willing to suspend their disbelief and simply go along with the premise of an assertive Lizzie breaking barriers far before those barriers were broken in real life.
Pride and Premeditation is also best enjoyed by those willing to accept that this story is not a strict retelling. Very little of the original plot remains; even most of the romance has been cut to create more room for mystery. Additionally, most of the secondary characters are relegated to mere background noise. Jane appears only to offer Lizzie her unconditional support. The other three girls periodically show up to say something annoying. Charlotte is a legal secretary and a woman of color, but is underutilized and seems present mainly as an attempt at diversity. While it is fascinating to watch Lizzie try to solve a mystery, it is a real shame that the author does not seem interested in weaving together the threads of multiple tales, as Austen did. This takes away much of the pleasure of the original story.
If one can get past these issues, however, Pride and Premeditation is a fun romp. Yes, the author tries a bit too hard to adopt a writing style reminiscent of Austen’s. And, yes, much of the plot feels like wish fulfillment for contemporary audiences, who seem to like protagonists of historical fiction to be far ahead of their times. And, yet, Pride and Premeditation is an enjoyable read. Because this Lizzie is witty and clever, just like the original. And this Darcy is caring and noble, again like the original And the plot is absolutely a riot. What Austen fan would not find the thought of Mr. Bingley being accused of murder equally hilarious and intriguing? Pride and Premeditation is not like the original, but perhaps that is its charm. It takes an old tale and gives it a clever little twist that many a fan will not be able to resist.