I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Attempting Elizabeth by Jessica Grey
Published by Tall House Books on January 24, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Kelsey Edmundson is a geek and proud of it. She makes no secret of her love for TV, movies, and, most especially, books. After a bad breakup, she retreats into her favorite novel, Pride and Prejudice, wishing she had some of the wit and spirit of Elizabeth Bennett.
One night at a party Kelsey meets handsome Australian bartender Mark Barnes. From then on, she always seems to run into him when she least expects it. No matter how Kelsey tries, she always seems to say the wrong thing.
After a particularly gaffe-filled evening around Mark, Kelsey is in desperate need of inspiration from Jane Austen. She falls asleep reading Darcy’s letter to Lizzy and awakens to find herself in an unfamiliar place that looks and sounds suspiciously like her favorite book. Has she somehow been transported into Pride and Prejudice, or is it just a dream?
As Kelsey tries to discover what’s happening to her, she must also discover her own heart. Is Mark Barnes destined to be her Mr. Darcy? In the end, she must decide whether attempting to become Elizabeth is worth the risk or if being Kelsey Edmundson is enough.
My Initial Reaction…
As one of the biggest Pride and Prejudice (P&P) fans out there (I’ve read the book 17 times in as many years!), Attempting Elizabeth was a book I had to read. I was nervous though, since Jessica Grey was going to be taking a lot of license with a story and characters I’ve grown to love. Not only was she creatively retelling the greatest story every written, but she was letting her main character go into P&P to interact with and be the characters; characters I’ve grown to know on a very personal level over the years. This could have been a disaster, if Grey didn’t know her stuff! But thankfully, she does and every moment inside P&P was a treat for me.
Any serious P&P fan will realize pretty quickly that Kelsey, the main character from who’s point of view Attempting Elizabeth is told, is a creative twist on Mr. Darcy. I absolutely loved this, since it was very unexpected. I figured she would be Elizabeth. But Kelsey is the aloof and distant one, who probably seems pretty full of herself to those who don’t know her and makes a ridiculously prejudiced judgement about Mark, the love interest in the book. I could easily turn into a crazy fan girl right here pulling up all the little details that Grey managed to work in to really make this characterization work, but I’ll simply say Grey knew what she was doing. If you’re hyper aware like me, you’ll see it. If you’re not, you’ll still enjoy it, because Kelsey is a lovable character. She’s your typical nerdy girl – working on her MA in literature, lover of Star Wars, and lacking any internal filter. She either speaks her mind or shuts down completely (just like Darcy, I might add – which is why he comes off as so proud).
Mark I suppose was supposed to be the modern day twist on Elizabeth. Even though I can make parallels, they aren’t as overwhelming for me as the Darcy-Kelsey connections, but I think that’s because this isn’t his story. Regardless, I did find him to be an immensely likable character. First off, he’s hot. Secondly, he has an Aussie accent. So on a very superficial level, he’s great. But behind the surface, he’s just this really sweet, friendly guy. He’s a history teacher, who loves what he does. He and Kelsey get off on the wrong foot, though and you can’t help but wonder if they’ll ever get it right. Even though I was convinced that this was a P&P retelling, enough was different that I was still not sure how things would develop. I knew I hoped they’d make it work, because I really liked Mark and I hoped he’d give her a few more chances to get it right.
When we meet Kelsey she’s getting over a bad breakup. Her boyfriend – Jerkface Jordan as he’s affectionately called – had an affair and Kelsey is realizing that she seems to always hook up with the George Wickhams (the womanizer of P&P) of the world. It’s put her into a bad mood and all she wants to do is lose herself in a good book. Her best friend, Tori (who is pretty much Bingley if any P&P fans were wondering), insists that she come with her to a party. This party will make P&P fans giddy with all the parallels to THE ball where Darcy and Lizzy first meet. It’s at this party that Kelsey meets Mark and judges him because he’s slinging drinks. And that he overhears her making rude remarks about him to Tori. (Like I said, giddy!) Anyway Kelsey’s put her foot in her mouth and after that whenever their thrown together (which is often since Tori is dating one of his friends) things are awkward.
One time, when Kelsey isn’t obsessing about how much she’s messed things up with Mark, whom she can’t seem to get out of her head, she sits down to read P&P and falls asleep reading a scene about Darcy’s sister Georgiana. And she ends up in that scene, as Gerogiana. I loved this tip into P&P since Kelsey is trying to figure out what’s happened to her and decides to tell off some characters that I think every P&P fan has wanted to tell off at least once. You also wonder how in the world she’s going to get out of the book, because she’s definitely stuck in the wrong body. She needs to be Elizabeth, not Darcy’s sister! I won’t tell you how, but she manages to get out and she tries going in over and over so that she can be Elizabeth. This turns out to be difficult and I had a blast wondering if she’d ever manage it, seeing her appear as different characters, and falling into memorable scenes from my favorite book. Grey has written this so well that if your a P&P fan you’ll immediately know what’s going on, but if you aren’t, there’s enough detail and explanation that you’ll have no trouble following.
So if it’s not ridiculously clear by now, I loved this book. I’m having a seriously hard time restraining myself from talking about all the parallels and neat twists on such a classic book. It’s an original enough love story that you don’t have to love Pride and Prejudice to enjoy it (hell, you don’t have to have even read it). But, if like me, you’re a huge fan, this will be non-stop fun. I think I may be rereading this alongside my annual re-read of P&P from now on!
Jessica Grey & Xpresso Tours have been gracious enough to give us the opportunity to provide an eBook copy of Attempting Elizabeth and since I loved it so much, I had to give you all a chance to have it too! Enter below and good luck!