You watched the vlogs, kept up with the tweets and repinned Jane’s adorbs clothes, but that’s still not enough. The fantastic creators of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (LBD) have come up with yet another way to tell this story. They masterfully used transmedia to rehash the timeless Austen novel, so why not take on the medium that inspired it all?
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is a fantastic way to present a different side of the story. It’s not a long book, but it gives enough to reel us in. Sure, the plot mirrors the vlog, but there are new tidbits of the story and insights into Lizzie’s own feelings that wouldn’t have come across the same way in front of the camera. Her voice is still so clear; witty, crass and secretly funny. Plus, we are treated to pie charts, illustrations and even a poem from Lizzie.
The diary is part of her thesis, a way to take notes about her vlogs for that MA she’s working on. I liked that there were many more mentions of her grad school work in the diary (in fact, I’ll be doing a whole vlog purely about that since it aligns with my own MA work). Between the endless studying and thesis work she writes about her daily interactions with a cast of characters we’ve come to know so well (Charlotte, Jane, Lydia). One of the highlights of the book is actually getting to “see” Mr. and Mrs. Bennet. In the vlogs we only see Lizzie’s interpretations of her parents, but here they come to life and seem less extreme than she portrays them (a fact backed up by other characters in the series).
A lot more discussion centered around economics in the book than in the vlogs, which makes sense. Lizzie wouldn’t want to share so much about her family’s money-problems on camera, nor would she want to make Charlotte’s situation public. This underlying financial threat gives much more context to different character’s actions and reactions throughout the story. Money is a huge motivator (Wickham!) in life, but it’s often the thing we are most embarrassed to discuss with others.
Feelings are also embarrassing to present to the public, and while we did get a lot of that in the vlogs, there’s something far more nuanced about them in the book. Lizzie’s reaction the Charlotte accepting Collins’ offer is so angry and personal, while her slow descent into love is more subtle and real. Her love for her sisters also jumps off the pages, making her concern for Lydia mirror that of Darcy and Gigi; harsh at times, but with good intentions.
The dedication sets the tone for the book: “To the fans, and everyone who ever loved a Lizzie and a Darcy.” Unlike other interpretations of Pride and Prejudice, the work that Pemberley Digital has done always centered around the fans, and the fan experience. This book is no exception. I highly suggest grabbing a copy and devouring it this summer. (I would say it’s a beach-read, but if you took it to the beach you would be too wrapped up in the story to care that you were at the beach.)
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet (Touchstone), by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick. Coming June 24, 2014.