First Impressions by Marilyn Sachs
First Impressions is a very quick read. A friend passed me a copy at lunch today and I'm writing about it this evening.
A young adult novel intended to introduce readers to Jane Austen, First Impressions is an interesting Pride and Prejudice spin-off. The protagonist, Alice, is a highschooler who has to read Pride and Prejudice for her honors English class. At first reading Alice hates Pride and Prejudice, viewing it as tragedy: "Sure, Elizabeth and Jane get their guys, and Lydia makes an exciting, scandalous marriage, and the author hopes that Kitty will turn out okay, but Mary... it's a tragedy for Mary" (1). Incidentally she's the under-appreciated and often-ignored third child in a brood of five.
First Impressions is the story of Alice's rereading of Pride and Prejudice over winter break and how it changes her life. There are some fantastical elements (magic is mentioned), but it is clear that it's the novel (or Austen herself) that wields the transformative power, encouraging Alice to be less of a Mary and more like an Elizabeth or Jane.
I was pleasantly surprised by First Impressions. It's not at all what I expected.
I also really liked this quote from Sachs on the book's dust jacket: "Jane Austen comforts me when times are hard, and she reminds me how funny, precious, and delightful this world is, as well as the people (or most of them) in it".
Tomorrow's our book club meeting so expect more on P&P soon!