When Lizzy Met Darcy…
Whether found in the pages of a book or on a movie screen, we love romantic comedies. Who doesn’t snort-laugh at Bridget Jones’s antics, or root for Meg Ryan, or swoon over hot leading men like Hugh Grant, Ryan Gosling, and Jude Law?
Just as screenplays by Nora Ephron, Diablo Cody, and Tina Fey shine a telling light on modern relationships, Jane Austen’s novels skewered Regency mores and social status with unerring (and often comical) accuracy. From Emma Woodhouse’s well-intentioned but misguided meddling to Catherine Morland’s overactive imagination, we laugh at her characters’ romantic foibles and missteps, just as we laugh today at Cher Horowitz in Clueless, Lalita Bakshirich in Bride and Prejudice, and Lizzie in the Lizzie Bennett Diaries.
Why? Because whether it’s 1809 or 2018, human nature hasn’t changed. We all have feet of clay and ulterior motives. We have our pride, and our prejudices. We want what we want, whether it’s the perfect bridal gown (Say Yes to the Dress) or the perfect groom (The Bachelor), and we’ll do whatever it takes to achieve romantic happiness. (And if that necessitates a bit of eye scratching or hair pulling along the way, so be it.)
So how does one modernize a classic novel and inject a dash of present-day panache? Well, I’m glad you asked…
Several years ago I decided to write a book. As a long-time fan of rom coms, and with the huge success of Bridget Jones’s Diary in mind, I decided to set my book in London and write about a family-owned department store and its struggle to stay open in the face of an economic downturn. I wanted plenty of conflict, a dash of danger, and plenty of romance.
Prada and Prejudice was the result. I started with a sweet but spoiled girl, Natalie Dashwood, who stands to inherit Dashwood and James department store but hasn’t a clue how to run it. Her grandfather hires business consultant Rhys Gordon to whip the store into shape. Natalie is outraged and fights Rhys at every cost-cutting turn, but he’s immovable. Austerity is his byword and he’s determined to curb her reckless spending. It’s a match made in retail hell.
Despite the title, the story is more Hepburn and Tracy than Lizzy and Darcy. Forced to work together to save the store, Natalie and Rhys quarrel and clash, but they can’t deny their attraction to one another. There are no carriages in their modern London world, no arranged marriages, no muslin gowns or debts of honor. But a sleek sports car can set the scene for romance just as effectively as a curricle and pair (just watch The Bachelor if you don’t believe me).
The trappings may have changed, and social mores as well, but human emotions have not. Deep inside, our desire for love, for affection and connection, remains.
Just as in Austen’s day, the sexes still battle it out. Fashions have evolved from crinolines and corsets to slip dresses and platform shoes, from demure lace wedding gowns to form fitting fishtails and stilettos, but one thing hasn’t changed. When Mark Darcy (Bridget Jones’s Diary) and William Thacker (Notting Hill) finally declare their feelings, we’re as over the moon and overcome with happiness as Bridget and Anna.
A little about Katie
Katie Oliver loves romantic comedies, Jane Austen, characters who “meet cute,” Richard Curtis films, and Prosecco (not necessarily in that order).She believes that falling in love never gets old and it never goes out of style. Reading a book written by Katie is like taking a peek into her loves and likes. So go on pick up a book.