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A Single Woman In Possession Of A Good Fortune, Must Be In Want Of A Holiday Fling

Melissa de la Cruz’s Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe reads like an adequate fanfiction—not good, but not nearly bad enough to be hilari-good, either.

A Single Woman In Possession Of A Good Fortune, Must Be In Want Of A Holiday Fling

BOOK REPORT for Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe by Melissa de la Cruz

Cover Story: Festive Chalk Art
BFF Charm: Nay
Swoonworthy Scale: 4
Talky Talk: Mediocre Fan Fiction
Bonus Factors: Pride and Prejudice, Gender Swap
Relationship Status: Alone at Christmas

Cover Story: Festive Chalk Art

I’ve done my fair share of chalk decorating, and did something very similar to this cover a few years back. Only my display said Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays or something holiday-appropriate. It would have been weird had I predicted this book’s title.

The Deal:

Darcy Fitzwilliam is the only daughter of the wealthy Fitzwilliam family of Pemberley, Ohio. But it’s been 8 years since she’s been home for Christmas, 8 years since she had a falling out with her father that led her to move to New York City and find her own way in the world. She quickly became a successful hedge fund manager and one of the most powerful women in NYC, but her holidays were always lonely affairs.

When her mother had a heart attack, Darcy heads home for the holidays. There, she’s forced to confront long-hidden feelings—for family, for her life, and for a particularly charismatic former high school classmate, Luke Bennet.

BFF Charm: Nay

Y’all know how standoffish and snobby Mr. Darcy comes across at first in the original Pride and Prejudice? His namesake is equally terrible, and even when de la Cruz tries to assure us (in the guise of a character reassuring Darcy) that she’s actually just self-possessed and knows what she wants, she’s still pretty awful.

Swoonworthy Scale: 4

Darcy and Luke’s “relationship” begins with a drunken mistletoe makeout session at the annual Fitzwilliam Christmas Party. And then another drunken makeout session post-caroling. And then they both get engaged to other people. I mean, we all know where this mess was headed, but I could have used some actual fire to warm me up.

Talky Talk: Mediocre Fan Fiction

A good retelling takes an original property and makes it new again, infusing the story with characters, settings and situations that are similar, but different enough, to stand on its own. Unfortunately, Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is only vaguely reminiscent of Pride and Prejudice, and does nothing to make the classic story feel fresh. The characters are flat; Darcy’s least-likeable qualities are her most prevalent ones (Did you know that she’s a multi-millionaire? You will, at least 10 times over by the time the book ends.), and Luke felt like a cardboard cutout of a person. My fave, Mr. Bennet, is nonexistent, and the rest of the characters who are supposed to represent the other Bennets and Darcys are barely recognizable.

The selfless deed Darcy performs for the Bennet’s is totally unbelievable in present day, even though it does mirror what Mr. Darcy does for Elizabeth’s family pretty well. Although I think it’s important for retellings to include major plot points/ideas, if an author updates the time period to the present, it should be obvious that said plot points need to be updated as well. And then there’s the back and forth of Darcy and Luke at the end of the novel, which had me feeling much like this:

I turned to Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe looking for a fun holiday romance and came away with a stocking full of coal. And I was pretty good this year!

Bonus Factor: Pride and Prejudice

I do love a Pride and Prejudice adaptation. I wish I would have enjoyed this one more, but points for the idea.

Bonus Factor: Gender Swap

A unique part of this retelling is the gender swap of the Darcy and Elizabeth characters. I also think it was a great idea for de la Cruz to keep Darcy Mr. Darcy-like, i.e., the more proud, more career- and status-concerned of the two main characters.

Relationship Status: Alone at Christmas

Sorry, Book. I know we were both hoping for a holiday fling, but our time together has me feeling less holiday cheer and more “overwhelming regret the day after drinking too much at the holiday office party.”

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from St, Martin’s Press, and got neither a private dance party with Tom Hiddleston nor money in exchange for this review. Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe is available now.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.
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