NETHERFIELD PREP – ELIZABETH STEVENS

A modern reimagining of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice'.

When Lily Brewer’s mum dies, she’s shipped to the other side of the world to her step-sisters’ pompous English boarding school, Netherfield. There, she meets Austin Cooper. Arrogant as hell but with abs to die for, Austin soon becomes the bane of her existence. His twin brother, Jax, is the complete opposite. Kind and sweet, Jax soon strikes up a thing with Lily’s roommate, Anne.
Austin, though seems keen to keep them apart.

Will pride and prejudice ruin them all?
Or, will love win the day?

I simply must start of by saying this novel earned a massive tick from the start because it is based of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, I dare say the greatest love story of all time – Romeo and Juliet have nothing on the dear Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy.  I truly appreciate how true to the original story this was and thoroughly enjoyed picking out all the characters and matching them with their Pride and Prejudice muses.  What I found to be so intriguing about this book is that, while it was essentially the same story, I struggled to figure out what exactly was going on and hoping for all the secrets to be unveiled, feeling just as hopeless in regards to the truth of the affairs of the characters and Wickham (Liam Anders) in particular.

Following the plot of the original novel to near perfection, the story begins when Lily Brewer’s mum dies and she is sent to live with her insipid step-sisters at Netherfield, a pretentious and snobby English boarding school.  Near falling asleep after a long flight from Australia, Lily is thrown in to the path of the gorgeous Austin Cooper, an arrogant, snobbish and generally rude guy who cares little for any and all below him, and his equally beautiful twin brother, Jax, a boy that loves easily and completely and could be considered the most affable of men.  Austin’s vanity and indifferent behaviour fuelled a deep dislike in Lily who believes him to be too proud and conceited to be considered good company.  But, despite her spirited and frank nature, Austin finds himself growing more and more attached to the fast minded, intelligent and beautiful girl who refuses to back down from a fight and is more than happy to chuck some insults his way.  As their story or witty banter and half-veiled longing continues the arrival of the wealthy, negligent boys of the Military Academy and Lily’s step-cousin and the sole heir to her step-mother’s company sets things a bit on the edge as Lily struggles to get a grip on the affairs of her heart.

I was a little surprised to find that I really enjoyed the way Stevens recreated the original story in the modern setting.  While I had hoped it possible, I did not expect to find any retelling of Pride and Prejudice anywhere near as good as the original simply because it is such a timeless piece but I have to say, Netherfield Prep came pretty darn close.  While not a life changing or earthshattering read, I found myself enjoying every moment I spent with this book and itching to get back to it when I had other things to do.
  
So our leading lady, Lily, is absolutely full of nerve and spirit, completely content to voice her opinions in a completely fearless manner.  I feel that what I love most about Lily is how relatable she is.  Perhaps it is her love of video games and her need to kill something (generally zombies) in frustration or her constant annoyance towards the insipid nature of the people around her or just how she really doesn’t care who she insults that makes me like her as a character as much as I do.

And then there is Austin.  If there was one thing that I didn’t really like about Austin it would have to be the way he was almost instantly drawn to her.  I felt that he saw her across the room and went, ‘she is the one,’ without any period of ‘no she is not good enough for me’ or ‘her family sucks, she can’t be that different.’  I did quite like how slow he was when it came to words and would just say whatever came to mind without thinking it through – it made me laugh on more than one occasion.  I feel Austin was a well developed character and the way Stevens managed to incorporate the original relationship between Darcy and Lady Catherine, or in this case Austin and Aunt Celia, was both inventive and crafty.

I really enjoyed the differing point of view between Lily and Austin.  It allowed us to track Austin’s emotions in a new way.  I began to love those chapters, Austin and Jax’s relationship becoming a bit of a comic relief of sorts – they had me laughing constantly at the authenticity in their relationship.  I, like many others, absolutely love it when guys are total dorks and start wrestling each other just for fun.  The folly and childishness of the species which has been dubbed men is remarkably captured throughout the book.


I held up the jacket I was pulling out of the bag.  “Knock yourself out.”

“Sweet, thanks.”

“No, I mean literally knock yourself out.  I am too tired to deal with your infernal optimism.”


Lily’s sweet and gentle roommate, Anne, fills the spot of Jane, becoming a sister of sorts to Lily and her main confidant.  Anne’s sweetness endears herself to all who so much as gaze upon her and it broke my heart to see her in even a small amount of pain.  The relationship between Lily and Anne is beyond sweet, it made me envious that I should not have such a friendship.  Lily possesses all of Elizabeth’s spunk and Anne, all of Jane’s purity and kindheartedness.

As for the more secondary characters; Kate and Gemma, Lily’s younger step-sisters, present themselves to be just as silly and vapid as one could hope for them to be, their cousin, Sebastian, just as much of a bumbling, foolish suck-up.  And as for Liam Anders (Wickham), all I can say is that I hated him just as much at the close of the story.  Perhaps the most interesting characterisation of the story is that of Daniel and Claire (Mr and Mrs Bennet).  Mrs Bennet’s senseless nature could be found in Daniel Brewer while the rational and clear-headed disposition of Mr Bennet presented itself in Lily’s kindhearted and intelligent step-mother, Claire.  I think what I loved most about Claire’s portrayal is that she still made the mistakes that Mr Bennet made – she wasn’t taken as some faultless character.  Most people don’t take in to consideration Mr Bennet’s mistakes so I thought that that was a really good portrayal.

And the ending was absolutely amazing!  Oh how my heart exploded, it was positively swoon worthy.  There is nothing more romantic than shouting about your love through the hallways.

In all, this was a fantastic read.  I was in such a bad place when it came to reading before opening this book but the soppy teenage romance has really put a little skip in my step – I seriously can’t help my love of all things romantic.  While at times I found the language a bit brash at times, it wasn’t enough to phase me all that much – you can’t really have a modern romance with the poise and grace of the romantics of the regency era.

Jovial and light-hearted, Netherfield Prep made me smile, gush and laugh the way the original Jane Austen novels always have, a great read for anyone with a penchant for romantics.


Rating: 3.5/5



Buy this book from Amazon here or from Book Depository here.

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