Pride & Prejudice was a book I avoided reading for a long time, like a high school boy might skip reading Romeo & Juliet for homework. The story never grabbed my attention. Maybe I was just immature or going through “a phase,” but nevertheless I just never got around to experiencing the story in any of its many forms (books, film, TV, etc.).
IN FACT, one of the two or three times I was punished as a child, my mom said I wasn’t allowed to watch TV (meaning television, DVDs, movies, or VHS!!!) for a whole week, unless I was watching Pride and Prejudice. Stubborn as I was, I proved that I didn’t need to watch TV for entertainment, and that I most certainly didn’t need to watch a snobby romance movie. Please, cut me some slack, I was like eight or nine!
Come several years later when I started blogging and became involved in the Bethany House Blogger Reviewer program, an opportunity caught my eye. I heard tell of a book called First Impressions, which is a modern retelling of the popular Austen classic. Yes, the very same one I avoided like the plague.
It’s no secret that Biblical fiction is my bread and butter, but every once in a while, I find myself drawn to a sweet, contemporary romance. It’s the start of summer, I just moved into a new apartment complex complete with pool, and I wanted some light reading I could take with me on my many, MANY trips to the pool. This book was the one I chose!
In exchange for a full review posted to my blog, Bethany House sent me a free copy of First Impressions by Debra White Smith. However, just a friendly reminder, this in no way has affected my opinions of this book.
Let me just start by saying that YES, before I officially started reading this book I did familiarize myself with the source material by Jane Austen, so that I could write a well-informed review. Now, since I’ve been babbling so long with all of this backstory, let me tell you what I thought of the book itself!!!
Debra White Smith has managed to bring a “tale as old as time,” to a new and modern era while still maintaining the original wit and wisdom of Jane Austen. Her adaptation follows the life of Eddi Boswick, and her somewhat difficult relationship with the town of London, Texas’ most eligible rancher, Dave Davidson. When she tries out for the local theatre group’s production of Pride and Prejudice starring as Elizabeth Benett opposite Mr. Davidson’s interpretation of Mr. Darcy, her life slowly starts to mirror Jane Austen’s classic tale of life and love. As a former theatrical performer myself, I found this setting perfect! I enjoyed every aspect of reading about their auditions, rehearsals, backstage drama, and (NO SPOILERS) opening night of the play!!!
I particularly enjoyed the relationships between the sisters, Eddi and Jane Boswick (who represent Elizabeth and Jane Benett from Pride and Prejudice). Their relationship was very lifelike and natural, very much like my own relationships with my “sisters” in Christ. The character development in Dave Davidson (Mr. Darcy) rivaled that of the original, and even though I knew how the story was going to end, Smith still managed to throw in a few surprises and things that I wasn’t expecting in his storyline.
The ending was and is just as magical as ever. If I had to describe this book in one word? Classic.
Just like the original.
I would recommend this book to anyone who loves both contemporary romance, as well as classic literature. That is, Austen literature. It is the perfect blend of both and absolutely charming! I will concede that there were some thematic elements that made me feel uncomfortable when reading (an unexpected pregnancy/intimate relationship outside of marriage, several mentions of and references to drug use. If either of these things are an issue for you, you might not want to read this). However, within the context of the story they totally made sense, especially if you know anything about Lydia Bennett’s character in the original novel. I could overlook it for the sake of the plot, but felt like they were worth mentioning in the review for full disclosure.
If you read or have read First Impressions by Debra White Smith then PLEASE let me know what you thought in the comments below, or by e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Remember, you can find me on Instagram and Twitter @jennavanmourik and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JennaVanMourik. I’m also on YouTube! Make sure you watch my full discussion of this video, where I let out ALL OF MY FEELS about each and every one of Smith’s dazzling characters!