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Article: Not In Want of a Wife - The Austen Blog Review

Not In Want of A Wife cover - by Amanda Kai
Amanda Kai

Not In Want of a Wife - The Austen Blog Review

Not in Want of a Wife by Amanda Kai

Not In Want of a Wife: A Pride and Prejudice Variation (The Other Paths Series #1) by Amanda Kai

Thank you to the author for providing the Jane Austen Blog with a copy of her novel in exchange for a fair and honest review! Not in Want of a Wife is out now on Kindle and can be purchased on Amazon at this link 

Here at the Austen Blog we see a lot of sequels, prequels and re-imaginings of Jane Austen's work. With an audience as big as Austen's it's no wonder that she has sparked so many imaginations. It can always be tricky to find the right Austen re-imagining for you, so when Amanda Kai reached out to ask us if we might like to read hers, we said yes right away. The review below of her novel Not In Want of a Wife should hopefully give you a good idea of whether this one is up your street.

The Premise: 

Not in Want of a Wife starts from the point of swapping out the original 'enemies-to-lovers' premise of Pride and Prejudice to a 'fake dating' premise. Mr Darcy is new to town, and sick to death of being crowded by eligible ladies and their fussing mothers. Spotting Elizabeth Bennet across the dance floor at a ball, he discovers that she, too, is avoiding having potential suitors foisted upon her. Seeing that they have shared interests, they agree to enter a fake courtship, and of course, these things only stay fake for so long. The novel that follows reimagines the events of Pride and Prejudice from this point of departure. 

The Review: 

Not in Want of a Wife is a fun reimagining of the events of Pride and Prejudice, taking the characters we know and love and plopping them in a slightly different situation to the original novel. This novel is cleverly structured around the skeleton of the plot of the original, retaining all of the settings and situations, as well as adding in a few new ones. Kai's decision to stick structurally close to the original novel is a wise move, as it keeps the novel well-paced and narratively cohesive, and even though you know roughly where it's going next, one of the novel's greatest strengths is the way it leads you to guess how Kai might weave her new plot points into the dramatic beats of the original novel. 

The most memorable parts of the novel are, however, its innovations. The passage at the Royal Menagerie is particularly good fun, as is the production of Romeo and Juliet that the characters put on whilst stuck in the house. Kai's augmentation of the character of Miss Bingley adds an original kick of humour, as does her extension of the role of the loathsome Mr Collins. Kai does well to restore some of the agency to Charlotte's character, making her more of an active pursuer of her relationship with Collins, something that Austen doesn't go into a great deal of depth with in the original. 

The areas in which the novel wants are mostly technical; a few conspicuous Americanisms can be slightly distracting. The use of the word 'darn' - which wouldn't be used by Brits today - stuck out to this reviewer as particularly out of place. Mr Darcy's character was also lacking a bit of that trademark grumpiness that accounts for so much of his allure in the original. It would have been nice to see a little more of that, particularly in the novel's earlier pages. 

Overall, I had a really fun time with this novel, which had me itching to go back and reread the original. A fun reimagining, which sometimes strayed a little too far in its characterisation, but ultimately remained close enough to the original that fans of Pride and Prejudice will delight in its clever interpolations of quotations in fresh situations. If you're looking for something which feels at once familiar and fresh, this is the reimagining for you. I hope that we will see more re-imaginings from this author.

The Author: 
Amanda Kai's love of period dramas and classic literature inspires her historical romances and other romances. She is the author of several stories inspired by Jane Austen, including Not in Want of a Wife, Elizabeth's Secret Admirer and Marriage and Ministry. Prior to becoming an author, Amanda enjoyed a successful career as a professional harpist, and danced ballet for twenty years. When she's not diving into the realm of her imagination, Amanda lives out her own happily ever after in Texas with her husband and three children. Find out more about her books on Goodreads. 

Ellen White is editor of the Jane Austen blog. If you would like to contribute to the blog, she would love to hear from you. Follow this link for more details.

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