Messina (The Bolingbroke Chit, 2015, etc.) reimagines a classic in her gender-bending, modern-day take on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
In present-day Queens, New York, brothers John and Bennet Bethle are the spine of the Longbourn Collection’s development department. After some persuasion by their parents, they get their youngest brother, Lydon, an internship at the museum as well—but his definition of “internship” is practically synonymous with “Starbucks.” Mr. Meryton, executive director of the Longbourn, is always close by; he would “never trust an employee to do well what he himself could do perfectly”—that is, to land major funding from New York’s richest. Enter Charlotte “Bingley” Bingston, an enthusiastic socialite and chair of the Gold Diamond Advisory Board who's almost as smitten with the local rugelach as she is with John. Her best friend, Darcy Fitzwilliam, a fellow heiress, has a guarded and cold demeanor which earn her little favor from the rest of the cast. Things become complicated when Bennet runs into Georgia Wickham, an estranged childhood friend of Darcy’s, in the lobby of the Longbourn. The entanglements are knottiest at Bingley’s fundraising gala at Netherfield on Park Avenue. Collin Parsons makes his dazzling entrance just as Bingley quits the city suddenly. After 48 “Bingstons,” or days Bingley has been unreachable, both John, who refuses to pine for her, and Bennet, who was “dissed for the financial sector,” are loveless and in desperate need of distraction. When Collin invites Bennet to the Hamptons for a weekend, Messina raises the stakes even higher: there’s a surprise visit from Darcy, and by the time Bennet returns to the city, Lydon is being held by the FBI for grand larceny. It takes a lot of money, influence, and humbling before anyone reaches a mutual understanding. The characters get a little verbose at the end, slowing down the otherwise well-paced plot, but they’ve got quite a bit of explaining to do. Messina maintains the emotional depth of the characters with easy humor despite their wrestling with first impressions gone awry and the consequence of ill-held grudges.
An imaginative and witty retelling of universally acknowledged truths.