Monday 24 February 2014

Pride, Prejudice and the Perfect Match by Marilyn Brant

In this story Beth Ann Bennet is a 26 year old single mum who is training to be a social worker. She signs up to a dating website to try and find a man to study for her sociology module, which is focusing on gender stereotypes.  To make her dating profile more attractive she tells some lies on it, changing her job, her age and omitting to mention her child.  She isn’t ashamed of who she is, although she modestly underrates her attractiveness, but she isn’t actually pursuing a relationship here, just trying to get some research done.  She even uses a pseudonym to sign up with. Will Darcy, gorgeous doctor, is trying to get some funding for a new clinic to provide treatment for single mothers and their children, who wouldn’t be able to afford treatment otherwise.  His rich cousin, Bingley has agreed to make a large donation, in return for workaholic Darcy having 5 dates with somebody and bringing them to Bingley’s birthday party. This is why Darcy signs up for online dating.  He is pretty truthful on his application, the only lie he tells is his reason for signing up.

Beth notices Darcy’s profile online and they exchange emails.  She didn’t intend to meet her case study subject, but she is enticed enough to meet with him for coffee and finds she is much more attracted to him than she had anticipated.  The attraction is mutual, and they have a few more dates.  In the course of this she finds out that he hates social workers and would actively avoid dating a single mum.  This is due to his own childhood bad experiences of step-families and bad social workers, plus the perception he has of social workers who deal with his single mum patients. So Darcy is massively prejudiced, but Beth not so much. They both have their share of pride, but I wouldn’t especially call either of them proud. Both of them keep people at an emotional distance, but for him it’s more self-preservation, and she has been focused on raising her child, who is just coming up to school age. Once Beth realises the views Will holds she can’t see any future for the relationship, built as it is on deceit, but both of them are already in deeper than they had intended...

The story wasn’t was what I was expecting.  From the title I expected a modern update of Pride and Prejudice with a recognisable story arc, but this doesn’t follow the lines of Pride and Prejudice at all. There are recognisable names and characters, but the dynamics between them are different, particularly between Beth and Will, and the events are pretty different.  This is not to say that I didn’t enjoy the story, I liked it very much, but it wasn’t what I expected.  The main similarity to me was the theme of realising what prejudices are held and overcoming them.

Both Beth and Will were really admirable characters, if you could overlook the initial lying!  He was so focussed on improving life for people who were struggling financially both for their benefit and for the greater good of society, and is also a caring son.  Beth had been left by her husband around the time their baby was born and had been raising her son on her own since then while trying to train in a job that was more fulfilling emotionally than financially. I very much enjoyed seeing Beth and Will’s story, and there were many occasions when I doubted that it would be possible to provide them with a happy ending.  In fact, I had real trouble putting the kindle down and I read it pretty much in one sitting!

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