Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits (Jane Austen Takes the South)
By: Mary Jane Hathaway
Publisher: Howard Books
Publication Date: June 2014
Reviewed by: Diane Lunsford
Review Date: July 5, 2014
Mary Jane Hathaway puts a 21st century spin on Jane Austen and Mr. Darcy in her latest novel, Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits.
Shelby Roswell is a Civil War historian and professor. She is on direct course toward her coveted tenure in her small town college near Oxford, Mississippi. All indicators deliver signs of positive outcome for her to achieve such an accomplishment until one handsome, self-assured Ivy Leaguer, Ransom Field, arrives. Not only was it insulting to learn she will share space with Fielding after his scathing review of her book—a book she spent countless and painstaking hours of fact checking and research to write, but the greatest insult is when she learns she has to ‘play nice’ with this pedigreed pontificator under the same roof in ‘her’ halls of continued education. The day of reckoning arrives and while Shelby tries to maintain her focus on business as usual, nothing could have prepared her for the potential career ending maneuver she would orchestrate. When she witnesses what she believes to be a blatant bully maneuver by Ransom to one of his students, she decides to call him out in front of his packed lecture auditorium. After provoking an embarrassing situation, the consequences of her actions placed Shelby’s reality of tenure on a potentially permanent back burner.
Everyone deserves a second chance in life and maybe this applies to Ransom Fielding as well. Shelby ponders their relationship too much as she analyses the auditorium debacle with her trusted roommate, Rebecca. With renewed hope, Shelby agrees to tolerate his presence and disallow the crumby review he gave her book to stand in the way of her tenure. More than fate seems to keep depositing the two in each others’ paths, however. When Shelby agrees to attend a high society fundraiser with Fielding at the stunning Bellepointe Mansion, her instincts are conflicted and she is back to thinking perhaps Ransom Fielding is not the man her intuitions keep fighting to convince her he is.
Mary Jane Hathaway has done outstanding justice to the resurrection of the sparky antics between Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy through her creation of modern day characters: Shelby Roswell and Ransom Fielding in her latest novel, Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits. There is fantastic ebb and flow between their many situations of conflict and (sometimes) resolve throughout. It is abundantly clear Ms. Hathaway’s inspiration for her story is a direct result of her love for the original (and iconic), Pride and Prejudice. While I truly believe many of the classic works written long ago earned their place in infamy because of their astute and brilliant word placement, I have to give Ms. Hathaway props for her obvious ability to put a modern-day spin on an iconic story and make it stick to one’s ribs! It is sassy in all the right places as much as it is entertaining throughout. Given this is an advance proof copy, the only caution I would note is for Ms. Hathaway to address some minor areas of misspelled and misused wording. Congratulations Ms. Hathaway. I am a fan and look forward to your next book.
Quill Says: Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits is a wonderfully written novel that demonstrates an accomplished portrayal of two iconic 19th Century characters who have been reinvented and placed into an engaging 21st Century read.