Summary from Goodreads
“Pure genius… a sharp, clever re-imagining… if Austen was writing now, she might have created something like this.” The Guardian on The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.
The Lizzie Bennet Diaries may have started as a school project for Lizzie, but it grew into so much more, as the videos came to inform and reflect her life and that of her sisters, beautiful Jane and reckless Lydia. People watched, debated, tweeted, tumblr’d, and suddenly Lizzie was YouTube sensation. But not everything happened on-screen. Lizzie kept a secret diary. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet is everything you didn’t see in her videos – and more. This is Pride and Prejudice as you’ve never experienced it before! Read The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet, watch the YouTube videos at lizziebennetdiaries.com and check her out on Pinterest, Tumblr and Twitter – become part of the sensation that’s captured the imagination of millions of fans!
Published July 3rd 2014 by Simon & Schuster UK
Reading Group Guide for The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet
This reading group guide includes an introduction, discussion questions and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.
By drawing on Jane Austen’s timeless novel, Bernie Su and Kate Rorick created a modern-day Pride and Prejudice with The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet. In her diary, Lizzie writes about a year of her life and her experiences making video blogs (vlogs) for her graduate thesis. From Netherfield to Pemberley and back again, Lizzie navigates the dangerous waters of social propriety and relationships in the twenty-first century – both on and off the Internet. What starts as a simple thesis idea becomes a way for Lizzie to inform and reflect upon her life and her sisters’ lives. With the unexpected success and popularity of her videos, Lizzie suddenly finds her vlogs and her life prominently displayed in the Internet’s public eye. But as personal and revealing as the videos are, Lizzie’s secret diary reveals her deepest anxieties and most private thoughts over the course of a dramatic year.
The book complements the popular website The Lizzie Bennet Diaries and its accompanying YouTube videos, which can be watched either in tandem or enjoyed separately.
Topics & Questions for Discussion
1. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice takes place in nineteenth-century English society, a world with strict and specific social parameters. How do the authors transfer the storyline to our modern world? Discuss how the authors make the Bennets’ circumstances contemporary.
2. As the story progresses, we hear Darcy’s description of his perfect woman: “Someone who is together”. He then lists a set of ambitious qualities that are nearly impossible to locate all in one person. How does this list compare to Darcy’s description in Pride and Prejudice (below)?
A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved. All this she must possess,” added Darcy, “and to all this she must yet add something more substantial, in the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” Do the authors modernize the qualities that Darcy looks for in a woman? If so, what is different? Which qualities do you think are essential for a well-rounded woman today? Are they different for a well-rounded man?
3. Mrs. Bennet tells Lizzie she is too idealistic, expecting everything in the world “to be as exact as it is in your head”, and Lizzie admits this may be true in her diary. Do you think she grows into a more realistic adult by the end of the story? Why or why not?
4. Discuss Lizzie’s relationship with her parents. How do Mrs. Bennet’s priorities differ from Mr. Bennet’s? Do you think the Bennet parents understand their daughters? Give an example from the book.
5. Why does Lizzie refuse to settle for the job proposal Ricky Collins offers her? How does this proposal vary from the one he offers Elizabeth in Austen’s story?
6. Since many of the characters in the story also watch Lizzie’s videos, they quickly find out about any recent drama as well as how Lizzie reacts and feels about it. Charlotte reminds Lizzie that Caroline Lee “made sure she was seen as [Lizzie’s] friend on the videos”. Does the characters’ information from the videos affect the plot? If so, discuss how the characters benefit from this information. Consider Caroline Lee, George Wickham, William Darcy, and Lydia Bennet.
7. In Victorian society, social status was based on family lineage and wealth; in this story, the elite may come from money, but they are also heavily involved in California’s technology bubble. Darcy’s Pemberley is a Google-like place rather than a large estate, and his aunt acts as a venture capitalist for Mr. Collins’s company. Discuss the relationship between the Victorian upper class and our contemporary technology companies. Consider how well this analogy works in the story.
8. Do you think Darcy was right to warn Bing away from making a hasty decision about Jane? How would you react if put in a similar position?
9. Lizzie tries to look out for both of her sisters but realizes too late that she has failed Lydia. After learning of the sex tape and watching Lydia’s videos, Lizzie realizes “that Lydia has never been told that she is loved exactly as she is”. What lessons does Lizzie learn from this experience?
10. Like in Austen’s original, both Lizzie and Darcy are too proud for most of the book and hide behind their prejudices. How does each overcome his or her bias to give the other a chance?
11. At the end of the story, Lizzie finds out that Caroline orchestrated an incident at Bing Lee’s party so that Darcy would mistrust Jane’s love for Bing. Lizzie emphasizes that this “could have been cleared up by PEOPLE TALKING TO OTHER PEOPLE”. Why do so many of the characters (especially Lizzie, a communications major) have such trouble communicating face-to-face? What do you think Lizzie learned about communicating from working on her vlog project and thesis?
12. George Wickham uses both William and Gigi Darcy for their money, but knows the Bennets do not have any money to spare. What, then, is his motivation for manipulating Lydia and posting a sex tape of her? And why does he create the site with a countdown, rather than having the video immediately available?
13. Because of the communal nature of online video blogging, Lizzie has many followers and regularly gets comments on her video entries. Think about and share your thoughts on how the Internet (and the thousands of fans who give Lizzie feedback) plays an essential role in this story. Is there an equivalent to this communal network in Austen’s story?
Enhance Your Book Club
1. Watch a few YouTube videos of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries (or, if you already have, re-watch a few of your favourites), and discuss how well the book pairs with the videos. Did you picture the characters differently? Did you enjoy reading or watching the story more? How do the experiences differ?
2. Try making your own video, by yourself or with a friend. Share your experience with the group: Talk about your favourite aspect of making a video blog or about any difficulties you had.
3. This novel places Jane Austen’s famous characters in the modern world. Other adaptations incorporate zombies or envision the characters’ futures. If you were going to write an adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, how would you frame your story? Share, discuss, and try your hand at writing a chapter or two!
Bernie Su is the Emmy Award-winning executive producer, co-creator, head writer, and director of The Lizzie Bennet Diaries for which he received a Streamy Award for Best Writing, Comedy and Best Interactive Program. Su is a graduate of the University of California, San Diego, and lives in Los Angeles. Kate Rorick is a writer for The Lizzie Bennet Diaries. She has written for a variety of television shows, including Law and Order: Criminal Intent and Terra Nova. In her spare time, she is the bestselling author of historical romance novels under the name Kate Noble. Rorick is a graduate of Syracuse University and lives in LA.