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Friday, June 20, 2014

Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits by Mary Jane Hathaway

I am really really bad at skimming through NetGalley and only clicking on books by authors I already know. I rarely click on something by an unknown, especially if the cover is less than inspiring. Every once in a while, I force myself to take a look at other titles. This is how I came to request Pride, Prejudice, and Cheese Grits.  A modern retelling of Pride & Prejudice seemed appealing so I went ahead and snagged it. Now, it’s been a few years since I read Pride & Prejudice and my memory of details is a bit hazy. I might possibly have some minor characters confused with other Austen characters. That said, I can see some of the Austen influence at work.


Here’s the description:


This hilarious Southern retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice tells the story of two hard-headed Civil war historians who find that first impressions can be deceiving.

Shelby Roswell, a Civil War historian and professor, is on the fast track to tenure—that is, until her new book is roasted by the famous historian Ransom Fielding in a national review. With her career stalled by a man she’s never met, Shelby struggles to maintain her composure when she discovers that Fielding has taken a visiting professorship at her small Southern college.

Ransom Fielding is still struggling with his role in his wife’s accidental death six years ago and is hoping that a year at Shelby’s small college near his hometown of Oxford, Mississippi, will be a respite from the pressures of Ivy League academia. He never bargained for falling in love with the one woman whose career—and pride—he injured, and who would do anything to make him leave.

When these two hot-headed southerners find themselves fighting over the centuries-old history of local battles and antebellum mansions, their small college is about to become a battlefield of Civil War proportions.

With familiar and relatable characters and wit to spare, Pride, Prejudice and Cheese Grits shows you that love can conquer all…especially when pride, prejudice, love, and cheese grits are involved!


And what did I think?

For the first 80% of the book I  enjoyed it. Of course the university/history professor detail was right up my alley (hi, history major!) For the most part, I enjoyed Shelby and Ransom and the annoying bits were fairly easy to write off as the Austen influence (marriage minded mama, annoying younger sisters, decoy cousins, odious potential suitor). There were some things that rubbed me wrong- the red herring of Tasha went on way too long, and the false overlay of the South. It often seemed like the author just threw Southern food and manners out there and called the book Southern.  The other surprising thing is that this one turns out to be a Christian romance, and while it starts off subtle and integrates into the book, there does come a few moments of it being a major part. I wasn’t expecting that from the description.   I suppose if I’d had paid attention to the publisher I may have caught on to this detail, but I did not.


The problem with the book is that there are just way too many little plot lines that are completely unnecesary, including the entire last 15% or so. One of the silly details turns itself into a major conflict and honestly I felt like the book would have been just fine without it. Perhaps I’m forgetting too much Pride and Prejudice and something similar happens in it, but when I hit this point in the book it dramatically reduced my enjoyment. I’ve read a few reviews and it seems that the people who read this book because of the Christian element dislike this plot element for moral reasons, but I disliked it because it was completely unnecessary. It didn’t really further the plot in any way that couldn’t have been done with the exisiting plot lines.


Would I read more by this author? I might read another in the series if they were about the characters from this one, but since each builds on a different Austen novel instead, I will likely skip them. This could have been a much stronger romance if it had focused more on the growing relationship and less on confetti of details that surrounded them.


  1. So funny, I saw the title and cover image in passing and assumed it was YA. This does not sound like my jam. Thanks for the review!

  2. That's too bad about all the extras. I hate when something spoils the book for me when it's unnecessary!

  3. I'm never sure if not being able to remember the source material intimately is a good thing or a bad thing. Sometimes if I remember too well, I get frustrated by where the new work veers off.

  4. I'm always hesitant to read re-tellings of Austen's books. I don't know why. I have no problem with other re-tellings of classics. This sounds like a fun read, but it's too bad about the extras.


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