This recommendation post is for a specific kind of reader in a specific kind of mood: fans of Pride & Prejudice who are looking for a similar enough but still new-to-them story to evoke the same kinds of vibes they get from the Austen classic. Maybe you’ve already seen both versions of Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightley version and the Colin Firth version); maybe you’ve also already seen Bride & Prejudice, the Bollywood retelling (which I recommend if you haven’t!) and the extremely fun YouTube series the Lizzie Bennett Diaries (again, definitely recommend if you haven’t yet!). Maybe you’ve also already read and/or seen the movie version of Austenland (personally, I didn’t love the book, but I think the movie with Keri Russell is really fun). And now you want to read something Pride and Prejudice-esque, but without re-reading the classic version. In that case, here are some books I’ve read and enjoyed that I’d recommend you check out!
Why P&P fans will like it: Hero is an aloof, intimidating figure; smart, opinionated heroine; class/rank differences between hero and heroine; awkward first meeting; historical romance set in 1879 England
What it’s about: Annabelle, a woman of a lower social rank, is drawn into the suffragist movement after she becomes one of Oxford’s first female students. She finds herself perpetually thrown into the path of the Duke of Montgomery, a powerful political influencer, and draws him to her side politically while she finds herself falling for him.
Why P&P fans will like it: Tons of Austen references, since the story is set against the production of an Austen mash-up murder mystery play; heroine overhears hero disparaging her at the beginning of the book; grumpy/sunshine romance
What it’s about: London theater star Freddy takes a role in a production of The Austen Playbook, a choose-your-own ending murder mystery production involving Austen’s most popular characters. Unfortunately, the production is being staged at the ancestral home of highbrow and savage theater critic Griff who, despite his prickliness and scary reputation to the theater community, Freddy finds herself attracted to. The two work to solve a mystery while simultaneously saving the production and also Griff’s home, which is in financial danger.
Why P&P fans will like it: Not exactly a retelling, but very much inspired by P&P; one heroine is named Darcy and is very much a Mr. Darcy-esque character; grumpy/sunshine; very awkward first meeting and bad first impressions
What it’s about: Astrologist Elle finds herself roped into a fake dating scheme with brilliant, aloof actuary Darcy when Darcy’s younger brother and Elle’s new business partner sets them up.
Why P&P fans will like it: grumpy/sunshine; bad first impressions; set in England
What it’s about: Dueling bakery owners are also new co-judges on a Great British Baking Show-esque competition show while simultaneously dueling for a wedding cake contract for the royal family.
Why P&P fans will like it: enemies-to-lovers, grumpy/sunshine, bad first impressions
What it’s about: Youngest sister Eve has never truly found a career right for her, and she accidentally stumbles into a disastrous job interview in which she hits her interviewer, grumpy B&B owner Jacob, with her car and finds herself with a new chef job and a new crush.
Why P&P fans will like it: P&P retelling set in the world of NYC burlesque
What it’s about: This one is straightforwardly a modern-day contemporary romance Price & Prejudice retelling, and I’m actually reading it at this very moment, which is what inspired this blog post. Liz Bennet is an aspiring interior designer hustling between her day job as an assistant and her weekend job as a burlesque assistant when she meets Darcy, an aloof financier and friend of Charles, a potential investor in her burlesque club.
Why P&P fans will like it: enemies-to-lovers romance with secret pining
What it’s about: Probably the best-known book on this list, and with a movie about to come out as well, this is a workplace contemporary grumpy/sunshine romance between dueling assistants gunning for a promotion.
And here are a few books on my TBR that I hope will join the others on the list in the future:
Pride & Papercuts by Staci Hart – contemporary retelling of P&P in an office setting
The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas – recommended for fans of The Hating Game, with a fake dating storyline set during a wedding in Spain
Dangerous Alliance: An Austentacious Romance by Jennieke Cohen – historical romance/mystery featuring a heroine using Austen’s novels as a blueprint for navigating society
Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal – modern-day contemporary romance retelling of P&P set in Pakistan