* * *Set on the coast of Massachusetts, The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice is a modern echo of Jane Austen’s most popular novel. Cassie Boulton, a talented scientist with a meager background meets Calder Westing III, son of a Senator, born into political royalty. As in the original Pride & Prejudice, they meet at a local dance, whereupon Cassie is snubbed by Calder. But as in Austen’s work, he eventually becomes drawn to Cassie and her to him. Before long they begin a passionate love affair. And like Darcy and Elizabeth, they too must surmount family resistance in order to be together.
My first impressions of the novel were not very positive. Within a short amount of time from the start of the book, there were some fairly steamy love scenes that were a bit more than PG-13 in their content. The characters and plot were fine, but it seemed like almost every time Cassie and Calder got together, they were having their way with each other. Some moments had quite a lot of detail, while others just cut to the next scene. The amount of physical passion almost became laughable, given the relative unfamiliarity of these two individuals.
Eventually our lovers seem to simmer down a bit, and the rest of the story focuses on their struggles to be together, despite their opposing backgrounds. This family drama was intriguing, and caused me to be interested in the fate of Cassie and Calder. I assumed there would be some type of happy ending, but it was interesting to see the path they would take along the way.
As an Austen fan, I didn’t enjoy this novel as much as I hoped I would. There are echoes of the source material throughout the story, particularly when Calder writes his own P&P fan fiction. However, this book seemed to be more about a couple who were attracted to each other sexually at first, indulged in those desires and then began to get to know one another. In the original Pride & Prejudice, there certainly was attraction, but we can assume that Darcy & Lizzie didn’t consummate that attraction until after marrying.
This is not to say that I prefer to shun all novels with love scenes. I just found the amount of sexual content to be higher than I’d expected. Fortunately, Reynolds is able to move on to more substantial material, developing her characters and plot nicely. I enjoyed the relational dance of the family members and felt true (delicious) disdain for one character in particular. The Man Who Loved Pride & Prejudice certainly had its moments. Some were interesting and compelling, but unfortunately I would have left several other moments to the imagination of the reader. If there’s one thing I’m learning from Austen, is that plenty of sexual tension can be conveyed with just a few, well chosen and inexplicit words. Perhaps if there’s a sequel we’ll see more of that trend.
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