Book Review: Ladies of the House

The Fiction Addiction

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Ladies of The House by Lauren Edmondson is a modern retelling of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. Now, I don't have Sense and Sensibility memorized the way I do Pride and Prejudice, but that's fine because Ladies Of The House is more about revisiting the themes than a beat-for-beat modernization. The heart of the story is still two very different sisters, a sensible older one and flighty younger one,  trying to figure out what comes next after their father's deaths.  There's still a lot of gossip, but in the modern reinvention, it's about political maneuvers and scandals. And the setting works well, with plenty of mandatory social obligations, competitive socializing, and social ostracism as a weapon for a political family in DC. 

This novel also stands alone, if it's a been a long time since you read Sense and Sensibility. or even if you haven't read it, you can simply read Ladies of the House as a story about a family facing scandal in Washington DC. But, knowing the novel was inspired by Austen, I just loved realizing that Bo was a modernized Brandon. So sweet and solid, and yet so easily overlooked! 

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Wallis, the Marianne sister, isn't a teenager in this one, just emotionally quite young.  Blake Darley, a political heir with the family wealth to exterminate any hint of embarrassment or consequences, is just as privileged and entitled as Willoughby, but you can still see how Wallis could be charmed. 

I found the Atlas and Daisy relationship a bit flat, that is, I believed that she was in love with him, for ages, but the weird gaps in communication felt forced.  Childish avoidance games from midthirties Daisy? And she's meant to be the sense part of Sense and Sensibility!?!?!

But overall, it was a nice look at the modern-day Dashwood sisters. Fans of this one might also enjoy Curtis Sittenfeld's Eligible, a modern P&P with a reality show,  or other Janeite reinventions

Ladies of The House by Lauren Edmondson is out from Graydon House on February 9, 2021.

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