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I received this book through LibraryThing is exchange for an honest review.
I wanted to like this book. I wanted to like it so much. A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice? With queer characters? Sounds great. However, it just did not live up to the promise of success.
My main problem with the book was the writing. It was unnecessarily complicated and drawn out. This book did not need to be nearly as long as it was. It's roughly 100 pages longer than Pride and Prejudice itself. The book would have been stronger if it had been more concise and cut out some of the unnecessary threads. There is so much in the novel that isn't really important or even resolved. This made reading it such a chore. It just went on and on and went nowhere.
Along with this, I am pretty confident in saying that this is the first novel I have read with footnotes. I was conflicted about them. They gave some good background information on various Jewish holidays and Yiddish phrases, but they really pulled you out of the story. Yet, if I didn't read them, I felt like I was missing out on information. In my opinion, the footnotes were not needed and instead disrupted the narrative. The information could have easily been worked into the narrative or even simplified and included in parentheses within the text.
I will say that I did like the representation of queer characters and relationships. None of the characters are cut and dry. It was interesting to see the unique struggles Ari had being a trans man in comparison to the non-trans characters and how it effected relationships with other characters.
However, I found that I absolutely hated Ari. What a horrible reimagining of Elizabeth Bennet, one of the greatest heroines in literature who is not afraid to speak her mind even within an oppressive society. Then you have Ari, who can't make a decision to save his life. Everyone calls him a "noodle" throughout the book, which holds true, but making your main character a "noodle" is a horrible way to keep readers interested in your book. I hated him so much. Even by the end, I just could not like him.
I am also a bit conflicted on whether a reader should have read Pride and Prejudice before reading this book. There are interesting subtleties with the characters and it's kind of fun to figure out who is who (Mr. Wexler makes a great Mrs. Bennet). However, as someone who loved Pride and Prejudice, this just felt like blaspheme. To take such a great work and turn it into this mess was a disappointment. This book was not well-constructed. I loved the idea of a genderqueer Pride and Prejudice, but that was all it had going for it.
While I think this book had a very interesting premise, it was just a complete mess in my opinion. I trudged through it after reading multiple reviews saying it was dull at first but picked up as you went on. I kept reading, but by page 300 I knew nothing would redeem the book and just pushed through to the end.
As I said before, the main idea of this book was good, but the execution did not make it a successful novel.