Book review: ‘Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!’ modernizes 6 Jane Austen stories

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"THE JANE JOURNALS OF PEMBERLEY PREP: Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!" by Heidi Jo Doxey, Sweetwater Books, $13.99, 192 pages (f)

Heidi Jo Doxey took her love of Jane Austen novels and turned it into the modern retelling "The Jane Journals of Pemberley Prep: Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!"

This epistolary novel, written in journal entries, is told from seven different points of view: six students and one teacher at Pemberley Prep, a private high school in the Bay Area of California. Through reading the journal entries, the reader experiences what it’s like to be each of the teenage girls and Mrs. Anne Eliot, who teaches them, as they venture into the start of a new school year.

Doxey includes many issues with which the reader may relate — friends moving away, sibling rivalry, blended families, financial problems, following dreams and, of course, boy drama. Each of these is tackled with a realness and wit that bring the journal entries to life.

There’s Lizzie, who has four sisters and loathes Liam Darcy; Fiona, who is struggling finding her spot in her blended family; Nila, who is Indian and uses her journal to write to her friend Taylor who just moved to London; sisters Alice and Vivian, whose father recently passed away and who attend a new school after a recent move; and scholarship student Catherine, who goes by Cate and is obsessed with books.

While it’s not a new concept to retell an Austen novel, the freshness in "Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!" comes from Doxey’s decision to include six different Austen tales in one book.

Heidi Jo Doxey is the author of "The Jane Journals of Pemberley Prep: Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!" (Provided by Cedar Fort)

Heidi Jo Doxey is the author of “The Jane Journals of Pemberley Prep: Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!” (Provided by Cedar Fort)

It may seem overwhelming to read from seven different points of view pulled from six different stories, but Doxey’s novel is a smooth and easy read. The characters each have a distinct voice and story, making it easy to separate them, and the book follows a simple timeline that draws all the entries together.

Although Doxey has read all of Austen’s novels, she understands that not all of her readers will have done the same. At the end of the book is a helpful guide that lists all of the characters in "Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!" and their Austen counterparts.

"The Jane Journals of Pemberley Prep: Liam Darcy, I Loathe You!" is a clean read and doesn’t contain any foul language, sexual content or violence.

Tara Creel is a mother of three boys. Her email is taracreel@gmail.com, and she blogs at taracreelbooks.wordpress.com.

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