Sunday, August 23, 2009

Prada & Prejudice by Mandy Hubbard

When I took a creative writing class, I was told that every story has already been written and it's just a matter of how the author interprets the story that makes it unique. As I read this novel, I thought about that because this storyline didn't seem that original. That's not to say, though, that I didn't enjoy reading the novel because it was a nice and light book to pass the time.

Callie is in England for a school trip and wants nothing more than to be accepted by the popular girls. After buying a pair of Prada shoes to impress them, she stumbles and falls, passing out as she hits the ground. When she awakens, she's in a deeply wooded area and further exploring reveals unpaved paths and horse drawn carriages. She finds a nearby residence which she learns belongs to a duke, and seeks shelter. Upon her arrival, she is mistaken for a girl named Rebecca who is supposed to visit from America. Callie plays along, thinking that the crazy people around her are just actors. However, she soon discovers that it's not pretend and really 1815. Knowing that if the truth comes out she'll be all on her own with no way back to the 21st century, she plays along, but not without her modern day flair as she pushes for her new friend Emily to have some say against arranged marriage. She also struggles against her conflicting emotions to Alex, the duke of the estate, who she feels is a major jerk based on some letters she's discovered and the fact that he won't stand up for Emily and believes every woman has her place. Will she have an impact on this time period - especially on Alex and his views, will her true identity be revealed, and will she ever make it home are the key questions.

Time travel is not a new concept. An arrogant male who the main character can't help but love is not a new character (he's very reminiscent of Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, which the title obviously plays off of). Lying about who you are and making fast friendships under this false identity is not original. With that said, though, this book was still enjoyable. Since it wasn't terribly original, it was at times predictable, but again, that didn't detract from the overall enjoyment of the story. The novel does a good job of showing some of the advancements socially, especially in terms of women, but it might have been nice to see some more of how Callie adjusts without modern conveniences. There's a mention of bedpans and how corsets are annoying, but how is she dealing without her cellphone, computer, deodorant and other things that we take for granted. She adapted to the new world just a little too easily.

This book was neither here nor there. It was good, I liked reading it, but it didn't make me stop and go, "Wow! This is a great book." To me it was too unoriginal to send me over the moon. I'd recently seen a movie where a modern woman steps into the novel Pride and Prejudice in the place of Elizabeth Bennet (Lost in Austen). Modern girl, 1800s, arrogant man. It's a very similar concept. Am I disappointed with this book? No, not at all. I liked reading it. It held my attention and I liked how things played out. I just wasn't blown away by it.

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