Book Review: Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz
I love a good Austen retelling. I read Longbourn earlier this year and really enjoyed it, but my favorite Austen retelling is Eligible. I was really excited about Melissa de la Cruz’s Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe after seeing Anne Bogel’s post on Modern Mrs. Darcy about it. A Christmas gender-swapping retelling of Pride and Prejudice? Sign me up. In this modern retelling, Darcy Fitzwilliam is a twenty-nine year old millionaire hedge fund manager, who hasn’t visited her family in Pemberley, Ohio in 8 years. When she returns home after her mother suffers a heart attack, she is forced to confront her family and high school classmates for the first time in years.
At her parents’ annual Christmas party, she runs into her high school nemesis, Luke Bennet. They both have had a few drinks and end up making out under the mistletoe. Yet the next day, Darcy wakes up regretting the kiss and her loss of control. As this is a retelling, we know that inevitably Darcy and Luke will end up together after a few ups and downs. I was more interested in the characterization of Darcy and Luke than in how they would end up together. Since this is told from Darcy’s perspective, we get a closer look into how she falls for Luke (or how de la Cruz imagines Mr. Darcy fell for Lizzie in the original). Darcy is a confident, self-respecting, powerful woman who has very high standards, so to others she may come across as snobby. Luke is much more down to earth, who never left Pemberley, living at his parents’ house with his brothers, and became a carpenter. We really don’t know much about Luke other than that he is real-life handsome.
I really wanted to like this book. But the writing was horrible. There were so many 2016 and 2017 pop culture references, which will not give the book much staying power. And we are constantly reminded how much money Darcy has; she brags about being able to buy anything and name-drops several couture brands. Obviously Darcy is supposed to be ridiculously wealthy, but the way it was written here felt too over the top and did not need to be mentioned every other page. Also, the plot did not seem to develop naturally; everything felt too rushed. It seems like the publisher wanted to get this published just before Christmas, so that everyone could read it around Christmas time, which I did. Because of that, it seems like de la Cruz sped through her writing, and the editing process clearly could have used some help. With all that said, I enjoyed the premise of the book and could (mostly) overlook the writing because I was equally interested in the secondary characters like Darcy’s gay best friend, Bingley Charles, who falls in love with Jim Bennet, and Luke's ex-girlfriend Charlotte Collins.
If you are looking for a fun, different Austen retelling that you could read quickly, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe fits that bill. It doesn't hurt that the hardcover is beautiful as well. Since I was not really expecting high-brow literature, I was willing to let some things go, but overall, I just could not get past the writing and how quickly the story rushed through key plot points. Melissa de la Cruz is a very prolific and popular YA writer, so this one just missed the mark. The concept had promise, but the execution was poor. I give it 2.5 stars.
What is your favorite Austen retelling?