My review of Mandy Hubbard’s young adult novel, Prada and Prejudice, seen on AustenBlog:
On her high school trip to London, fifteen-year-old Callie buys a pair of real Prada shoes, hoping to impress the other girls in her class. While walking back to the hotel in her new heels, she trips, hits her head, and wakes up in Regency England.
Once she arrives in the English countryside she meets Emily who (as luck would have it) mistakes Callie for her long-lost American friend, Rebecca. Emily’s cousin is the Duke of Harksbury, a nineteen-year-old hottie named Alex, who is (surprise, surprise) exceedingly hoity and arrogant. Callie knows she only has a short amount of time before the real Rebecca shows up and she’s kicked out of Harksbury for good. She has to figure out a way to get back to the present. But how?
The premise of Prada and Prejudice is pretty interesting (it’s hard not to call it the young adult version of Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict) and I found myself liking the story a lot. The tone and language are perfect for teens (and for those of us who like reading about them). Callie is clumsy, but likeable, and it’s fun to follow her growth and development throughout the novel. I liked how the author kept me guessing right until the end, though there were a few points where the story became a bit predictable.
Those of us who are familiar with Pride and Prejudice won’t be surprised that Callie quickly forms a negative opinion of Alex, which turns out to be completely wrong in the end. The romance between them is sweet, but really can’t hold a candle to Darcy and Elizabeth. Callie is so completely rude to Alex at every turn (Elizabeth at least uses her wit to mask her contempt) that it was pretty hard to believe that he would be attracted to her. For her part, Callie thinks Alex is smoking hot, even though he has some pretty misogynistic and classist views. Lucky for her, Alex, like Darcy before him, is willing to make some changes for the lady he loves.
The Regency details were pretty well done (though I’m not an expert by any means) and it appeared the author had done her homework. There was one point though, later in the novel, when Callie and Emily are forming a plan to break-off Emily’s loveless engagement where it’s difficult to believe that Emily would have agreed to Callie’s scandalous suggestion. Alex, too, seems more like a twenty-first-century boyfriend than a nineteenth-century gentleman, once he reveals his true feelings for Callie. Other than that, I thought all the mentions of gowns, hairstyles, servants, carriages, and chamber pots were pretty accurate.
This book would be a fun, light read for Janeites. There is no overt mention of Jane Austen, but the title and the plot all echo Pride and Prejudice (in that it mirrors the girl meets boy, girl hates boy, girl slowly realizes boy is the only one for her story line). Though there were a few places where I had to suspend disbelief, the overall effect was charming. I’d highly recommend it.