Release Date: June 24, 2014
Age Group: Young Adult
Buy: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / IndieBound
Based on the Emmy Award-winning YouTube series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
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.
The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet takes readers deep inside Lizzie's world and well beyond the confines of her camera--from the wedding where she first meets William Darcy to the local hangout of Carter's bar, and much more. Lizzie's private musings are filled with revealing details about the Bennet household, including her growing suspicions about her parents'; unstable financial situation, her sister's budding relationship with Bing Lee, the perils of her unexpected fame, and her uncertainty over her future--and whom she wants to share it with.
Featuring plenty of fresh twists to delight fans and new readers alike, The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet expands on the web series phenomenon that captivated a generation and reimagines the Pride and Prejudice story like never before.
So here’s the thing about my review of The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet aka the book version of the internet series The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: you already know what I’m going to say. I adored LBD in an intense and real way—for example, when the very last Q&A video appeared, I wasn’t home, and I watched the video on my phone on a street corner in northwest DC because I literally couldn’t take another step until I saw what happened next. I’ve been looking forward to the book “adaptation” for a while now, just to get some more information on my beloved characters and delve even deeper into the world of the Bennet sisters. While I flew through this book like Darcy flew to Lydia’s rescue (hee) and while I would recommend this book to any fan of the LBD such as me, I have one glaring issue with it.
This is not a diary.
There are portions of this secret “diary” that read as though it is what the title proclaims. Lizzie shares some secrets that she wouldn’t say aloud on her videos, and we do get a respectable amount of backstory and, shall we say, closure. However, far too often, the narrative switches from epistolary (which it should be) to a first person narrative.
It starts in the very first entry, when Lizzie mentions her bestie Charlotte and writes this: “‘Hostile laundry takeover?’ she asked knowingly.” I actually looked up from the book and said aloud, “Who writes like that in their own diary?” It took me right out of the story, because it didn’t feel authentic. I was able to ignore this quirk after a few entries (though some instances of format flip-flopping were more blatant than others) by making the mental decision to read this as Lizzie’s story in book form rather than Lizzie’s personal diary. I made a good choice.
Once I could overlook the narration issue, I enjoyed this a lot more. The book answers basically every lingering question I still had about the webseries while enhancing moments that I never gave much thought to before. (I’ll never watch that Netherfield arc in the same way.) My personal favorite was the actual story of the Lizzie and the Darcys’ “epic tour” of San Francisco. Followers of the award-winning transmedia event of the SF tour remember the photos well, but having the words makes it sweeter than a sundae at Ghirardelli Square.
Even with my narrative hang-up, I would still recommend The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet to any fan of the webseries from which it spawned. If you haven’t seen the series yet, I would doubly recommend getting your own copy of the book—specifically, the enhanced e-book, which includes links to all of Lizzie’s videos (though, none of the spin-offs like THE Lydia Bennet or the Domino launch). Now, it’s back to the fanfiction until we get more bonus videos.