Tuesday, 11 August 2020

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Retold by Gemma Barder - My Review

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Retold by Gemma Barder
What do you do when you have a review backlog and a TBR list that would fill a room if it was all physical copies? You go on Netgalley to have a nose, and stumble across something you want to read, d’oh! In my defence though, it was a quick read, which at least helped me in my quest to get back on track with my annual reading challenge. The book that I’m bringing you a review of today is Austen’s Pride & Prejudice, but retold for a younger audience by Gemma Barder.

Book Description – from Amazon

A beautiful and accessible children's book adaptation of Austen's famous story, Pride and Prejudice, featuring contemporary black and white illustrations and a free Audiobook accessible via QR code for an alternative, entertaining and engaging listening experience. 

Mrs Bennet is desperate to find rich husbands for her daughters, so the arrival of a charming new neighbour is welcome indeed. Sadly, the friend he brings with him is not. Mr Darcy seems to have even more pride than money. Nobody likes him least of all Elizabeth Bennet. But not everyone is who they seem...

This adaptation is part of The Complete Jane Austen Children's Collection (Easy Classics), featuring the following 8 books: Emma, Mansfield Park, Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, Northanger Abbey, Love and Friendship and a personal My Story Journal (available to buy as a box set). These stunning books are a perfect gift and introduction to classical literature for children aged seven and up. 

Sweet Cherry Easy Classics carefully adapt classic literature into accessible stories for children, with the aim of introducing these timeless tales to a new generation.

Book Description – from the back of the book

Mrs Bennet is desperate to find rich husbands for her daughters, so the arrival of a charming new neighbour is welcome indeed. Sadly the friend he brings with him is not. Mr Darcy seems to have even more pride than money. Nobody likes him – least of all Elizabeth Bennet. But not everyone is who they seem and love can change everything. 

Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen, Retold by Gemma BarderMy Review of Pride & Prejudice, retold by Gemma Barder

This version of Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice has been rewritten for a younger audience. As it’s a children’s version, one of the important jobs the author has had to do is explain some of the things that might not make sense to a modern child. I thought the author here did a great job of explaining things within the flow of the story. Although this is a simplified version, all the important plot points are covered. Having said that, there were some things that I felt were misrepresented – some facts relating to Wickham, and it being said that Elizabeth had overheard the ‘tolerable’ insult and made sure Mr Darcy knew that she had heard. This just didn’t happen, and if it had the relationship dynamic would have been quite different and he wouldn’t have been thinking of her regard so smugly later on! In the main though, the plot is covered well and explained clearly. 

The book has quite a few illustrations, which are very nice, although I would have loved to have seen them in colour. I read this on kindle, but I believe the illustrations are also black and white in the printed copy.

This book is part of a set of books retelling Austen’s stories - the six main novels plus Love and Freindship (sic) and another book - I'm not entirely sure what this one is, but it's called My Story Journal so presumably it's one for the child to write in.

The question is whether to buy or not to buy. Well, I am not entirely sold on the concept of classics being rewritten for children. The first time I read Pride & Prejudice as a teen I didn’t know anything about the story, and was able to discover it fresh. I think much of the enjoyment in Austen comes from her use of language rather than her plots – she truly was a mistress at turning a phrase – and while there are echoes of some of her quotes in this book, it’s a simplified version and doesn’t use such sophisticated language. 

My concern is whether a child reading a book such as this would be dissuaded from picking up the original, feeling that it’s a book they’d read already. Reading the plot of an Austen story is by no means reading Austen! However, if you like buying classics rewritten for children, I would say that this is a good rewrite – it has all the main plot points and most of the facts clearly described and is quite a good read in its own right. It also has a very cute cover so if I bought it for a child I'd be inclined to get the hard copy. This would be a good addition to the bookshelves of a child who reads classic rewrites and I'd rate it as a 4 star read.

*I received this book from Netgalley UK for my honest review

Author Bio

Gemma Barder is a children's author with 15 years experience of writing fun, exciting and engaging books for children. She started her publishing career in children's magazines, before moving on to editing books and part-works. She soon found her happy place as a freelance writer - tapping away at her laptop in her slippers at her home in Leicestershire, with her husband and two daughters close at hand, and with a cup of Earl Grey.

Collection of Jane Austen Stories, retold by Gemma Barder
Buy Links

Pride & Prejudice adapted by Gemma Barder is available to buy now in Paperback, Kindle and Kindle Unlimited. Ms Barder has also retold Austen’s other novels and you can get the whole collection in a paperback boxed set. 

Pride & Prejudice - Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CA (looks like paperback is not released yet in Canada) • Add to Goodreads shelf

Boxed Set of Paperbacks - Amazon US • Amazon UKAmazon CA (Unfortunately I couldn’t find the set on Amazon CA – hopefully it will be on there at some point)

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What do you think about the idea of rewriting classics for children? On the one hand, might it  make them feel less intimidating to a reader and make readers more likely to try them? Or would it put readers off the full versions because they feel they've read them, and will they miss out on all the magic of them? I'd love to know your thoughts in the comments. 

Note about comments: Unfortunately I’ve had some spam comments lately, so have turned on comment moderation, which means that your comment won’t appear straight away. If you have any problems adding your comment please contact me and I will add your comment for you :)

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8 comments:

  1. Interesting. My granddaughters are too young for this now but I will attempt to keep it in mind.

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    1. There are some lovely JA inspired kids books out there!

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  2. You make very good points about maybe wanting to keep it fresh for when they can really enjoy it. But glad you thought that the remake is well done regardless.

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    1. I'm not sure what's for the best with these classics. So much of my enjoyment of Austen is in her words rather than her plots. There are other books that spring to mind, such as Jane Eyre which has quite an unappealing plot, I think, but it's a wonderful book. I don't know what's the best approach because if people find the book intimidating they may never read it and a simplified version might be a bridge to the real version.

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  3. Nice review. I have one daughter - 9 - who seems pretty eager to know grown-up things. She's asked me about P&P, so it might be a good fit for her.

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    1. That's about the age I think this book would be perfect for. I thought the author did an excellent job of making things understandable in a natural way.

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  4. When I was a kid, I read some "condensed and abridged" versions of books, and I still went on to read the full classic versions later.

    denise

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    1. That's good to know. I read Uncle Tom's Cabin in an abridged version and have never read the full version, but on the other hand I had The Secret Garden in simplified, on cassette and then read the full version so maybe it just needs to be the right story to inspire you to pick up the full version.

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