Accomplished by Amanda Quain, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Young Adult
While I did a mini review of Accomplished in my Pride & Prejudice adjacent reel on Instagram (which, if you’re a P&Pfan, you should really check it out), I wanted to do a more complete review because there are a lot of nuances I could not capture in that review.
Unlike other P&P retellings, Accomplished does not follow any of the sisters. Rather, it is a contemporary story that centers on Georgiana (Georgie) Darcy. (Honest to goodness, Sanditon has ensured I will only hear that name said one way.) Georgiana is in the midst of her high school education. Her big brother, Fitz, is attending a local college. Unlike in P&P, they are not close. They used to be, but the events of the prior year created a strain in their relationship.
You see, Georgie ended up in an abusive relationship when she dated Wickham Foster. Ish hit the fan and Georgie took the fall along with Wickham. Now, months out of the relationship, Georgie is trying to rebuild her life, rebuild her reputation with her fellow marching band mates, rebuild her relationship with Fitz, and keep her brother from falling in love. Easy, right? *cue pensive Austenian music*
Accomplished is truly one of the best books I’ve read so far this year. Georgie’s plan is a classic mix of teenager desperation and exuberance. But what makes Accomplished so good, and what makes it an important read, is the way Quain handles the aftermath of a toxic relationship. Wickham is rightfully portrayed as the abusive/toxic character he is. Georgie is realistically portrayed as someone who is no longer sure who she is thanks to the lingering impact of his abusive/isolating manner.
In fact, the entirety of the plot comes down to Georgie’s need to rediscover herself and the difficulty she has in fully breaking away from Wickham. There are not nearly enough books, especially YA books, that tackle this part of abusive relationships and Quain does it well. And, in the true Austen way, Quain also tackles issues of class privilege and gender expectations.
Because Accomplished runs adjacent to P&P, you don’t need to know the original or be an Austen fan to enjoy this book. Austen fans, however, will be delighted by the easter eggs peppered throughout the book and will find a much more satisfying ending for Wickham than what he got in P&P.
Fair warning: If you’re a crier, have a box of tissues nearby. You’re gonna need them.