Twenty‑four‑year‑old grad student Lizzie Bennet is saddled with student loan debt and still living at home along with her two sisters—beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. When she records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, she has no idea The Lizzie Bennet Diaries will soon take on a life of their own, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight. When rich and 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. But not everything happens on‑screen. Lucky for us, Lizzie has a secret diary.
I have always been a lover of classics, but Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice holds a very, very special place in my heart. With a main character who is as witty, charming, and yet flawed as Elizabeth Bennet, the complicated yet strangely relatable family relationships (relatable only if you are a young adult female from a Southeast Asian country such as myself), and Austen’s viciously funny narration style, it’s hard not to love Pride and Prejudice.
And it’s equally hard not to love it’s very clever, very funny and extremely endearing modern-day retelling: The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Noble.
As the name suggests, the story is told through highly detailed journal entries by Lizzie Bennet–a twenty-four-year old grad student studying mass communications who is trying to cope with the pressures of student loans, impending adulthood and the constant interference by her mother in her non-existent love life. When a rich new neighbor moves in for the summer however, Lizzie’s life changes dramatically–and she records it all on a web series that turns her and her sisters into internet celebrities. Lizzie’s humor and snark is not really different from Elizabeth’s sense of humor in the original classic, and it was one of the things that did not make the journal entries monotonous.
The other thing that made me love this book was the plot–I was really curious to see how Su and Noble would translate The Georgian Era into the twenty-first century–and to say they did so excellently would be an understatement. In fact, you can see how much thought they have put into this novel and the amount of creativity that went into this modern-day retelling when you compare and contrast the parallels between Pride and Prejudice and The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. I cannot go into details of these parallels because of spoilers, but rest assured: even if you have read the classic a million times like I have, this retelling will still surprise you as it adds several new twists to an otherwise timeless classic.
In fact, it was this newness that made me fall in love with The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet; in terms of plot, this novel could easily have been an original story and it would have been just as good. All the events that occur contribute greatly to the development of each and every character and not just the protagonist alone–I was particularly fond of Lydia Bennet’s character arc; while in the original classic, Austen had summed up Lydia as a hopeless case who brings shame to her family and still does not have any remorse whatsoever for her actions, Su and Noble did modern-day Lydia justice by allowing her a chance to grow and redeem herself. I was prepared to dislike Lydia from the beginning, but Su and Noble changed my mind by the end of the novel to the point that I am looking forward to reading the next spin-off novel, The Epic Adventures of Lydia Bennet.
To sum it up, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a warm, heart-melting novel you should regardless of whether or not you are a fan of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice because it has all the things that a good rom/com should have: from it’s unforgettable characters, to the humorous and yet emotional storyline, and a protagonist who you cannot help but root for. Read it people!
Do you read classics? If yes, then which is your favorite? If no, then tell my why you don’t. Happy reading lovelies <3