It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.
After winter break, the girls at the very prestigious, very wealthy, girls-only Longbourn Academy are suddenly obsessed with the prom, which they share with the nearby, equally elitist, all-boys Pemberley School. Lizzie Bennet, who attends Longbourn on scholarship, isn’t exactly interested in designer dresses and expensive shoes, but her best friend, Jane, might be-especially now that Charles Bingley is back from a semester in London.
Lizzie is happy about her friend’s burgeoning romance, but less than impressed by Will Darcy, Charles’s friend, who’s snobby and pretentious. Darcy doesn’t seem to like Lizzie either, but she assumes it’s because her family doesn’t have money. Clearly, Will Darcy is a pompous jerk—so why does Lizzie find herself drawn to him anyway?
Will Lizzie’s pride and Will’s prejudice keep them apart? Or are they a prom couple in the making?
Prom and Prejudice is now available wherever books are sold.
While the same can probably be said of countless other schools across the country, prom at Longbourn isn’t just a rite of passage – it’s considered by many (at least those who matter) to be the social event for future members of high society. Longbourn girls don’t go to the mall to get their dresses. No, they boast couture from designers whose names adorn their speed dial.
Just look at the glossy six-page spread dedicated to more than a century of prom history in Longbourn’s recruitment brochure. Or the yearly coverage in The New York Times Sunday Style section… or Vanity Fair… or Vogue. Fashion reporters and photographers flock to the Connecticut campus to scope out the fashion, the excess, the glamour of it all. It is Fashion Week for the silver spoon set.
The tradition started in 1895, the first year Longbourn opened up its doors. Originally set up as a finishing school for proper ladies, the founders realized they needed to have an event to usher their students into the elite world. And while girls nowadays don’t really need to be formally “welcomed” into society, nobody wants to give up a weekend-long excuse to dress up and attempt to outshine one another. Friday night is the reception where the couples (consisting of Longbourn girls and, for the most part, boys from the neighboring Pemberley Academy) are introduced. Saturday night is the main event and Sunday afternoon is a brunch where reporters interview the students about the previous evening.
Students become fixated on prom from the day they get accepted. To not attend, or have the proper date, would be a scandal from which a young girl would never be able to recover.
Imagine the chaos that erupted a few years ago, when a scholarship student not only snagged the most sought-after boy at Pemberley, but showed up in a dress from Macy’s (the horror!) and caught the eye of the New York Timesreporter, who ended up putting her, and her story, on the cover of the Style section.
Up to that point, most students tolerated the two scholarship students in each class. But this was too much.
The following year, hazing began. Most scholarship students couldn’t last more than two years. The program only continued because the Board of Trustees was adamant about diversifying the student body (and by diversify, they meant having students whose parents didn’t earn seven-figure yearly bonuses). Plus, the scholarship students, often called “charity cases,” helped boost the academic record and music program.
Given the opportunities, education-wise, the scholarship students try to put up with the behavior. After all, this kind of experience couldn’t have happened at home. So there was a price to pay for the best teachers, resources and connections. That price– condescension, taunts, pranks – got old pretty quickly.
It’s not easy, though. It only took the new scholarship girl in the junior class two days before she broke down into tears. Fortunately, she was alone in her room and nobody saw her. But it happened.
I should know. Because that was my room, and my tears.
I was a scholarship student. A charity case.
One of them.
There was a giant target on my back.
And I had to do everything possible to avoid getting hit.
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“… a clever, modern romance.”
– Publishers Weekly
“Jane Austen for the Gossip Girl set…. Eulberg’s adaptation is faithful without being dogmatic; she successfully translates the essential elements of Austen’s narrative into 21st-century dialogue and descriptions and still leaves enough room for play with the details…. Eulberg delivers a fun, frothy romp that delights…”
– Kirkus Reviews
“…this version does justice to Austen… for those who have [read Pride and Prejudice], there’s fun to be had in forecasting how Eulberg will rescript each upcoming scene.”
“As soon as I finished reading, I gave a happy sigh of contentment. It was simply…magical!”
– 5 star review, TeensReadToo.com
“I enjoyed this fun retelling of Pride and Prejudice. Eulberg did a fantastic job in creating a new story to bring a younger audience and adults too… It was refreshing to read not only a modern adaptation of Austen’s work, but one that adapted it to a time that we all experience in our lives, our teen years.”
– Austen Prose
“What Elizabeth Eulberg did with Pride and Prejudice makes me want to stout things like ‘perfect’ and ‘brilliant’ and ‘go, run, buy it now.’”
– 5 star review, Mundie Moms
BEHIND THE STORY
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is one of the greatest novels of all time. Although the novel was published in 1813, the story still resonates with readers today as does its themes – love and class.
I was talking with some friends about Pride and Prejudice and the many different writers it has influenced. We were discussing Bridget Jones’s Diary when I started to think if a modern retelling of the book would work if the story was set in high school. In Pride and Prejudice, the Bennet sisters are focused on finding a husband. But would that really work in high school? I was already working on a book that was somewhat about boyfriends and high school (The Lonely Hearts Club) and I didn’t want to write a book about people being obsessed with having a boyfriend. Because that so isn’t supposed to be a major focus for high school teens (again, see The Lonely Hearts Club!). So what else are girls in high school “in want” of? Then it hit me – a prom date! I remember being worried as a teen about not having a date for prom. Plus, Prom and Prejudice would be an awesome title (if I do say so myself!).
I had the idea for Prom and Prejudice back in 2006, but since The Lonely Hearts Clubwas taking me forever to write, I put it on the backburner. But once LHC was handed off to Scholastic and I was waiting for my edit, I started to reread the book and watch all the different movie versions of Pride and Prejudice and its retellings (like the very fun Bride and Prejudice).
While the title was cute, I had to create a scenario where going to prom was a really, reallybig deal. And I also needed to make class a significant factor in the character’s daily lives. While I’m sure there are caste systems in some high schools, I don’t think the rich guy dating a poor girl would be that big of a deal. BUT maybe if I placed the characters at a very prestigious boarding school for the extremely wealthy and threw a scholarship student in there… And of course, with all that money, prom isn’t just prom, it’s a major media event. I refer it to “Fashion Week for the silver spoon set” in the book – think couture, think Oscar red carpet glamour!
Since Pride and Prejudice is in the public domain, I was able to use some of the characters from the original book, but make them modern and my own (although Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy will always belong to Miss Austen). Prom and Prejudice is loosely based on the plot of the original, but if you are going to retell something you have to make it different. While the book definitely has nods to the original, it is its own story.
I have no delusions of grandeur. Prom and Prejudice, at best, will be Pride and Prejudice’s fourth cousin twice removed…by marriage. The book is my homage to Jane Austen. I hope it makes her proud…or at the very least, not cause her to roll over in her grave.