A Certain Appeal by Vanessa King (2021)
A contemporary retelling of the classic Pride & Prejudice, set in and around a New York City burlesque show. Liz Bennet was an aspiring interior designer until an incident at her internship forced her to give up her dream. She made her way to NYC and started working at a burlesque show, where she ultimately meets Will Darcy. I tend to really enjoy P&P retellings, and there was a lot to like about this one. I liked the way the author updated the characters; Jane is now Liz's gay best friend and her other sisters have been replaced by a found family at the burlesque show. Although a bit clumsy with his words (when he can actually get one in), Will Darcy is dreamy - handsome, successful, and totally into Liz. The chemistry between them just oozed off the page; the tension between the two is the heart of the original story, but I liked that the author brought them together more quickly in this version. I expect that retellings generally won't deviate too much from their original source material, but my quibble here is that it almost followed it too closely, despite the modern setting. There's really no question because you know exactly how everything will turn out. King's lush writing definitely helps, but I felt myself looking for something a bit more. 3.5 stars
Accomplished by Amanda Quain (2022)
This Pride & Prejudice retelling focuses on one of the secondary characters of the original book, Georgiana Darcy, as it modernizes the story and reimagines it set at an elite private high school. I loved that this story wasn't about the main couple, but rather tells a new story from a different point of view. Here, Georgiana (Georgie in this modern version) has been duped by Wickham, who was selling drugs from her dorm room without her knowledge, and she is returning to school as a pariah. But Georgie isn't ready to give up, and she hatches a plan to reclaim her good name. I liked the parallels to the original, although this story definitely doesn't rely too much on it, so it feels really fresh. I felt for Georgie and was rooting for her to succeed, but at times her plans felt so... I don't know, singular? Not well-thought out? There wasn't a lot of nuance; it was more like, "If I do this one thing, everything will be fixed," without necessarily thinking through all the consequences. I guess, to be fair, she is a teenager, but it reinforced my feelings that YA is no longer a top genre for me. 3 stars
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