Title: The Bennet Women
Author: Eden Appiah-Kubi
Genre/s and Tags: Romance, Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Retelling, Queer/LGBTQ+, Coming of Age, College
In this delightfully modern spin on Pride and Prejudice, love is a goal, marriage is a distant option, and self-discovery is a sure thing.
Welcome to Bennet House, the only all-women’s dorm at prestigious Longbourn University, home to three close friends who are about to have an eventful year. EJ is an ambitious Black engineering student. Her best friend, Jamie, is a newly out trans woman studying French and theater. Tessa is a Filipina astronomy major with guy trouble. For them, Bennet House is more than a residence—it’s an oasis of feminism, femininity, and enlightenment. But as great as Longbourn is for academics, EJ knows it can be a wretched place to find love.
Yet the fall season is young and brimming with surprising possibilities. Jamie’s prospect is Lee Gregory, son of a Hollywood producer and a gentleman so charming he practically sparkles. That leaves EJ with Lee’s arrogant best friend, Will. For Jamie’s sake, EJ must put up with the disagreeable, distressingly handsome, not quite famous TV actor for as long as she can.
What of it? EJ has her eyes on a bigger prize, anyway: launching a spectacular engineering career in the “real world” she’s been hearing so much about. But what happens when all their lives become entwined in ways no one could have predicted—and EJ finds herself drawn to a man who’s not exactly a perfect fit for the future she has planned?
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Thank you to Turn the Page Tours, Montlake and Netgalley for an eARC and a finished copy in exchange for an honest review and promotion. All opinions are my own.
Oh my god, I loved this so much!! I definitely forgot I was reading a Pride & Prejudice retelling at times, but then elements from the original would appear and I would love this story even more! Cannot recommend enough.
The Bennet Women follows EJ, a Black woman navigating college life as a RA and Engineering major. She is the RA for Bennet House, the only all-women’s dorm at Longbourne University. With her are her two best friends, Jamie who has recently come out as transgender and studies French and theatre, and Tessa, a Filipina studying astronomy with major guy problems.
When Jamie runs into Lee Gregory, the two hit it off immediately. Unfortunately, for EJ, this means dealing with Lee’s best friend, Will, who is very grumpy and insults EJ behind her back immediately after meeting her. EJ is civil with Will for Jamie and Lee’s sake, but the more she learns about Will, the more she thinks maybe she judged him too harshly at first.
This was such a good retelling. I loved the Bennet family reimagined as a cohort of college women! I also loved the diversity of experiences we had in Bennet House. I think I missed whoever were supposed to be Mary and Catherine/Kitty, but it didn’t take away from the story for me. Seeing EJ, Jamie and Tessa constantly be there for each other was so heartwarming. I loved their friendship so much and I’m so glad they supported each other through the whole book!
I also really enjoyed Will and EJ’s relationship. These two definitely get off on the wrong foot, but I loved how they worked their way back to each other. I’m really glad Will did not send that first letter he wrote too. I was laughing so hard when he read it to his sister and Zara. The tension between these two was so fun and I loved every second of their relationship and how it developed.
EJ was such an easy character to care for. She cares so much for everyone around her. She’s also so strong, but is somewhat struggling with what she wants. That I can definitely relate to. I loved seeing a college age character at the end of their degree questioning what they should do next. That’s very much where I was when I finished mine and had grad school not worked out, I would’ve been in the same position as EJ.
I loved seeing EJ dive into her family relationships to untangle her motivations behind what she’s done. She comes to terms with things in her past in order to figure out what she wants for her future and that was such a powerful message. EJ is also given some advice to take the summer off before her next steps and I think this is something that should be said to more women of color. EJ does so much throughout this book, constantly pushing herself to the edge of exhaustion and she deserves to rest and be happy.
Overall, this was fantastic, and such an easy book to love.
Midsize Black cishet female MC, white trans heterosexual female MC, Chinese cishet male MC, Black biracial cishet male side character, Afro-Latina cishet female side character, Chinese lesbian cis female side character, Filipina cishet female side character.
CWs: Cursing, racism, fatphobia, sexism, sexual content, toxic relationship. Moderate: mentions of drug use and drug trafficking, transphobia/transmisia, stalking, addiction, body shaming, grief, past mentions of disordered eating and excessive exercising, emotional abuse, suicide attempt, alcohol consumption. Minor: cancer, car accident, death of parent, death of grandparent, infidelity, self harm, abandonment.