Review Blog

Jul 23 2014

The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick

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Simon and Schuster, 2014. ISBN: 9781471123221.
Recommended for readers 15+. Based on the Emmy Award-winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries, a modern day depiction of the Pride and Prejudice story.
The enigmatic Elizabeth of old becomes a twenty four year old grad student, Lizzie Bennet, who is still living at home along with her two sisters - beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. The absence of the superfluous two Bennet sisters is indicative of the style of the book. Lizzie records her reflections on life for her thesis project and posts them on YouTube, turning the Bennet sisters into internet celebrities seemingly overnight.
As the story unfolds, it is only through key events the reader starts to make direct comparison with the Austen novel. Unlike the free, indirect speech style of the original, this novel is presented in diary form presenting a much more personal tone. This demonstrates the cultural shift to a world where nothing is private but also whets the appetite of young readers who want to know everything about a character, leaving little to the imagination.
The novel is certainly not a classic, but is an excellent example of how our cultural standards, communication and environment have changed significantly, but individuals and families have remained the same.
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet would be great for reluctant readers and those interested in the application of classic literature to modern day circumstances. Discussion questions are provided at the back of the book for classroom use. I wouldn't recommend the novel for lower than Year 10 or boys, as stated, little is left for the imagination at times.
Catherine Barnes

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