The publishers Barrington Stoke aim to produce super readable books that enable all children and young people to experience the joy of reading. The classics can be daunting for many as the language, the complexity and the length may be a struggle to overcome. The story of Elizabeth Bennett and Darcy contains themes that would appeal to teen readers and Laura Wood’s accessible adaptation will ensure that this classic story reaches a new audience.
When rich and handsome Mr Bingley moves into the local area Mrs Bennett, mother to five daughters, cannot contain her excitement. She plots and plans, cajoling her husband into making invitations. Elizabeth, the second eldest daughter, and a spirited, witty and intelligent young woman has no wish to make a marriage of convenience. While her older sister Jane develops an attraction for Mr Bingley, Lizzie finds his equally wealthy and handsome friend Mr. Darcy aloof, proud and selfish. She sets her face against any prospect of marrying such an unagreeable man. However in a confined society their paths are destined to cross again and again and perhaps the first impressions of both may have been mistaken.
Condensing this beloved story into an abridged form told in contemporary language must have been a daunting task but Laura Wood has managed to retain the lightness that helped to make the original so popular. Inevitably some parts of the story have to be left out and the author fills in the gaps with care so that the main storyline and the relationships between the characters are conveyed to today’s young readers. Elizabeth’s spark and stubbornness is still there and Mr Darcey, although a little more sympathetic than I remember him initially, retains that aloof dignity. The story itself is told in short chapters and in a concise form but still has that recognisable appeal.
This would be an excellent book for secondary school libraries and classrooms providing an accessible version for dyslexic readers or children for whom English is not their first language. Its engaging style may also encourage reluctant or nervous readers to try the original version. It would be a valuable reference or quick reminder of the basic plot too. As with all Barrington Stoke books this is produced in a dyslexia friendly format and has been edited to a reading age of 9+ but with a teen readership in mind.
Pride and Prejudice: a retelling by Laura Wood was published on 6th January and I would like to thank the publishers for providing my review copy. Barrington Stoke have published other abridged adaptations of classic books and I would recommend Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights both by Tanya Landman.
Barrington Stoke have made the first chapter of this book available to provide a taste: