Northern Mummy

General thoughts and wittering about all sorts of things

Love, Lies and Lizzie by Rosie Rushton: audio edition read by Kate Byers (Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge: July)

on July 29, 2013

pride-prejudice-bicentenary-challenge-2013-x-200So, the school term is finally over and summer holidays have begun.  For Southern Daddy and myself, along with several others at our church, the first week of the summer holiday is always Holiday Club week, where 75+ primary school children descend on the church building, 5 hours a day for a week and we entertain them with songs, games, crafts and drama, as well as teaching them about Jesus and the crucial difference he makes to our lives.  It’s exhausting but ultimately feels very rewarding and it’s lovely to get to know the children so well, and especially to see them coming back year after year and seeing them grow (in their understanding as well as their height!).  The teaching is a challenge in many ways as most of the children aren’t familiar with the Bible passages and explaining them at holiday club is very different from teaching Sunday School or a Bible time with our own children, but the unexpected ideas and questions which cropped up helped us to examine the way we explained our faith to them and make sure we were really clear.

One of the things I was especially thankful for was that throughout the week I didn’t suffer from any migraines.  Not that I feel I’m indispensible, but I know what a complication it would have been for the co-leaders in my group, especially when having to decipher the notes I’d made for my teaching times!  So I was very glad to be able to be there all week and not struggling at any point and wishing I could go home.

When I’m suffering the best course of action (after appropriate medication has been administered) is to lie down in a darkened room, and to help me relax and pass the time I enjoy listening to audio books.  It can take me a long time to get through one as it generally relaxes me enough to fall asleep, meaning I have to find my place again when I wake up, but they’re very useful when I’m not able to read.  Recently I listened to a recording of Love, Lies and Lizzie, an updated version of Pride and Prejudice written for the YA market by Rosie Rushton and read by Kate Byers (Chivers audiobooks).

I had high hopes for Love, Lies and Lizzie, as I’d already enjoyed reading three of Rosie Rushton’s Jane Austen in the 21st Century series: Secret Schemes and Daring Dreams (her version of Emma), The Secrets of Love (Sense and Sensibility) and Summer of Secrets (Northanger Abbey).  She’s adept at translating the situations into a modern-day setting, using modern communications technology to good advantage, and also applying them to teenage characters (which works well with many of the elements of Austen’s novels, such as the amount of spare time the characters have, the absence of a work life or any real responsibility, etc).

What I found, on listening to the recording, was that my responses to the book and to the reading were very different.  Kate Byers, the reader, is an actor, producer and communications coach (although I’m not familiar with her work in any of these spheres) and has recorded several audiobooks spanning various genres.  Sadly, I was not impressed with her work on this recording.  I didn’t find her reading to be that clear, her emphasis in certain sentences was off the mark, making it difficult to understand what she was saying, and the voices she adopted for the various characters were nowhere near wide-ranging enough to provide the necessary distinction.  Now, I read to one or both of my daughters every night, and I know that Doing The Voices isn’t at all easy.  It’s not bad if you can make each character come from a different region or country (although on one famous occasion I got half way through The Gruffalo and couldn’t remember what voice I’d used for the Fox, much to the disgust of the pair of two-year-olds who made up my audience!), but an obligation to voice a whole group of characters from the same social and geographical background can present a challenge.  Nonetheless, there are things you can do to provide distinction.  (For one thing, ensuring that men have lower voices than women is a fairly fundamental requirement, and Byers didn’t always manage to achieve this).

Despite the presentation, however, I found that I enjoyed Rushton’s story.  I felt that she took rather too long to set up the scenario, although that was at the same time as I was contending with the confusing character voices (and I did fall asleep during the early part) so it could have been that which made it more irritating.  But once it properly got going, the plot flowed quite well. I loved the way she had expanded the range of travel to suit the modern setting, so that the equivalent of the Hunsford/Rosings visit became a work placement in France, and the (kind of) Pemberley equivalent is India.  Pride and Prejudice is a well-populated novel so the author had done well to find parallels for all the characters, from the arriviste Mrs Bennet and the eco-warrior Mary (now Meredith) to the pompous hospitality intern (Drew) Collins and the ultimate bad boy George Wickham.

One of the challenges of a modern-day Pride and Prejudice is obviously going to be Lydia’s scandal.  Obviously, in the present day, a teenage girl running away with an older and unreliable man is cause for concern, but even though Lydia is under age, there would be nothing like the resultant scandal that would have ensued in Austen’s day, and which was only partially averted by Lydia’s marriage to Wickham.  Rosie Rushton has here managed to find a treatment of the situation which is believable and fits well with Darcy’s testimony of his experiences the previous year.  What intrigues me, however, is the way in which both this book and The Lizzie Bennet Diaries chose to provide redemption for Lydia, rather than making her the incorrigable character she is in Austen’s original, where she’s left to lie in the bed she’s made for herself.  I’m not saying I don’t like it, I’m just not sure about its being so different.  Is it, perhaps, just too difficult to find a modern parallel which fits well enough for Lydia to continue to be the unapologetically spoilt, silly, selfish girl she always was, rather than emerging chastened and wiser from her experiences?  I certainly don’t have the answers – it’s just something I’ve observed.

A couple of things I didn’t like were the unnecessary changing of names – why does Charlotte Lucas have to be Emily?  And why James Darcy?  It’s not as if Charlotte and William, Will even, are less popular names amongst young people – and the fact that, having taken a while to get started, the book ended in quite a rush – I was expecting it to go on for much longer and in the end Lizzy’s two trips (to Hunsford and to Derbyshire) were rolled into one to save on time.  Lady Catherine (Katrina) de Bourgh made very little impression on me as a character, which feels wrong, given her presence in P&P which overshadows much of the book, despite her comparatively small number of appearances.

All-in-all, however, I enjoyed the story and feel I’d have enjoyed it still more, had I read the book rather than listening to the recording.  I’d really like to read the other two in the series (yes, I’ll even give the one based on Mansfield Park a try!), but I don’t think I’ll take the risk with the audio versions!

August’s pick for the challenge will most likely be Georgiana Darcy’s Diary by Anna Elliott as I’ve had it on my phone for months now!


Thankful for…

  • The AMAZING weather we’ve been having
  • A really wonderful Holiday Club week
  • Keeping free of migraines for all of last week
  • Our holiday plans (which had to undergo a rather dramatic change very recently but are still lots to look forward to!)
  • A chance to relax with my girls now
  • The prospect of seeing my parents next week
  • My new vacuum cleaner, which arrives tomorrow
  • A really sweet friend who turned up with crocheted toys for the girls this morning

What do you think? Let me know!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: