At the time of this review – the ebook + audio is available to borrow via Kindle Unlimited.
In this delightfully modern spin on Pride and Prejudice, love is a goal, marriage is a distant option, and self-discovery is a sure thing.
Welcome to Bennet House, the only all-women’s dorm at prestigious Longbourn University, home to three close friends who are about to have an eventful year. EJ is an ambitious Black engineering student. Her best friend, Jamie, is a newly out trans woman studying French and theatre. Tessa is a Filipina astronomy major with guy trouble. For them, Bennet House is more than a residence—it’s an oasis of feminism, femininity, and enlightenment. But as great as Longbourn is for academics, EJ knows it can be a wretched place to find love.
Yet the fall season is young and brimming with surprising possibilities. Jamie’s prospect is Lee Gregory, son of a Hollywood producer and a gentleman so charming he practically sparkles. That leaves EJ with Lee’s arrogant best friend, Will. For Jamie’s sake, EJ must put up with the disagreeable, distressingly handsome, not quite famous TV actor for as long as she can.
What of it? EJ has her eyes on a bigger prize, anyway: launching a spectacular engineering career in the “real world” she’s been hearing so much about. But what happens when all their lives become entwined in ways no one could have predicted—and EJ finds herself drawn to a man who’s not exactly a perfect fit for the future she has planned?
Point of view:
3rd person. Various perspectives, usually by chapter, clearly defined.
This was a fun Pride & Prejudice modern reimagining. I’m not a purist on what makes something a “retelling” or “inspired by” or whatever delineations some folks like to make – for me it was if you’re familiar with Pride & Prejudice you’ll enjoy all the nods and references, but if you aren’t you won’t be thinking, “what on earth is this author doing”?
I loved the characters and just had a great time living this year with them. I specifically enjoyed that while EJ, Jamie, Dia, Tessa, Lee, etc. all had these distinct backgrounds and experiences, the tension & drama came more from launching into adult and post-college life than from any unnecessary spats between the characters. I appreciate that Appiah-Kubi acknowledges how trials/struggles have influenced who each person is without making the focus trauma. There’s an immense normality in their uniqueness and it was a great balance.
As with P & P, I felt the pacing lull in certain areas though I don’t know how much of that is just that I can’t connect as well with some aspects of the characters’ lives – being <<gasp>> two decades older. I imagine there’s probably a huge struggle with how to categorize this book: romance? women’s lit? LGBT fiction? NA? YA? etc. Which, I kind of think is awesome – because it really defies being singularly slotted. There is romance, but it’s no more important or detailed than the other major decisions EJ (and to a less extent others) is making in her life. Any sex scenes are closed door and in general sex isn’t the focus of the relationships. Jamie is transgender, but despite some understandable hesitancy regarding how others may initially respond to her, it’s mostly a non-issue. There’s some interesting dynamics around Lee & Will being famous.
Part of me would love another book that gives more on Jamie & Lee and some of the other characters – but I’m glad that they didn’t take over EJ’s story. There is an HEA and a path forward for EJ’s life that I enjoyed.
Note: This is solidly New Adult in terms of being set around graduating college for most of the characters. However, I think this would be a fantastic listen for high school age folks (I happen to have two!).
L Morgan Lee was new to me and I really enjoyed her young, vibrant portrayal of the characters. She did a good job of differentiating male, female, young, old, etc. It really was just a fun listen.
About the author:
Eden Appiah-Kubi fell in love with classic novels in fourth grade when her mom read her Jane Eyre, chapter by chapter, as a bedtime story. She’s an alumna of a small New England university with a weird mascot (Go Jumbos!) and a former Peace Corps volunteer. Eden developed her fiction writing through years spent in a small Washington, DC, critique group. Today she works as a librarian and lives in the DC suburbs with her husband and hilarious daughter.
You can connect with Eden Appiah-Kubi here:
About the narrator:
L Morgan Lee (she/her) is an Obie award-winning actress and theatre maker. She is most known for her performance in the Pulitzer Prize winning musical, A Strange Loop which garnered her a Lucille Lortel nomination and the distinction of being the first openly transgender actor to originate a role in a Pulitzer Prize winning piece of theatre.
Dedicated to being a part of work centering underrepresented voices on both stage and screen, she recently, began developing a new play entitled, The Women (2021) with visionary and theatre artist, raja feather kelly. The piece asks a group of women and nonbinary writers to create vignettes speaking to various experiences and expectations of womanhood – and is a sort of present day response to the 1936 Clare Boothe Luce play. The Women (2021) had its first step as a part of Ars Nova’s 2021 Vision Residency.
You can connect with L Morgan Lee here:
My Favorite Quotes
Some days being a woman is choosing the cherry for your shit sundae. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimitedTweet
He kissed her again in a way that helped her understand the concept of swooning. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimitedTweet
Children without cable grew up loving their TV for two reasons: Sesame Street and game shows. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimitedTweet
Ever since you watched Looking for Mr. Goodbar in that seventies film class, you’ve been worse than my mother.- The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimitedTweet
Something about EJ sparkled when she spoke like this. Will found it intriguing. – The Bennet Women by Eden Appiah-Kubi #Audiobook narrated by @lmorgan_lee @AmazonPub #PrideAndPrejudice #Adaptation #Romance #WomensLit #NewAdult #Engineer #Actor #KindleUnlimitedTweet