In Fort Collins, Colorado, Erin and Jen Bennet run the Bennet Sisters Brewery, their dream business making and selling craft beer. Jen runs the face of the business while Erin is the master brewer of their company, leading them to meet Charlie and Darcy. Charlie is in town to learn more about the brewing side of things, and has dragged his buddy Darcy with him. Despite a haughty attitude, Darcy seems to flirt with Erin. A lot. Doesn’t help that she’s stone cold gorgeous. In the midst of business accomplishments and family troubles, Erin and Jen struggle with their young brewery and blooming relationships with Charlie and Darcy.
What is Pride and Porters about?
Pride and Porters is a modern F/F retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in Colorado in the USA. Darcy is now a haughty reporter, visiting Colorado breweries with her friend Charlie (aka Bingley) when they step into the Bennet Sisters Brewery. Amidst financial struggles in their new business endeavor, the Bennet sisters barely have time to offer to Charlie and Darcy but find themselves showing the two around to local breweries nonetheless as Charlie builds his brewing knowledge for his own business in Boston.
Center stage to the story, as appropriate, is Erin’s growing relationship with the attractive but hot and cold Darcy. Both are out lesbians, both are attracted to one another, and with Jen and Charlie so distracted by their own infatuation… But of course, business and family come first in both women’s worlds. In true Pride and Prejudice fashion first there’s plenty of drama, then comes the romance.
This is a mushy gushy romance book through and through. From the premise of retelling a classic love story to the execution, this book is all about Erin Bennet and her romantic feelings.
Tropes: Family Disappointment
One thing that I wasn’t anticipating was the way Erin Bennet is cast as the family disappointment, even with Lydia right there! Unlike the traditional Pride and Prejudice portrayal of Mr. Bennet and Lizzie being particularly close, Erin and her father don’t see eye to eye on about anything from her sexuality to her business choices.
Plot: Traditionally Told
Though the situations have obviously been updated to reflect the time period and subplots, otherwise every plot point is taken from the original. You have the initial set up wherein a rich set of friends arrive in the Bennets’ home town temporarily. The usual miscommunication of Darcy’s attraction and snobbery, someone else vying for Darcy’s attention, Darcy thwarting best friend’s love for a Bennet, Lydia getting into some sort of trouble, etc. are all present in this book.
I’m going to go ahead and say that the only reason I was interested in reading this book was for the lesbian romance. And I’m so glad for it! I’m also glad that despite the presence of one character not so accepting of LGBT+ relationships, this is largely not a major issue for the characters to overcome. They have surrounded themselves with supporting and loving friends and family, and as the characters in this book are aged up from the original (Erin is 34 for a benchmark) they are already comfortable in identities and out of the closet.
Aside from this, the rest of the story is also well told. I found that some of the ways Greene changed the plot from the original were creative and smart choices that utilized the environment of the setting and followed the choices that I felt these characters would naturally make. I also enjoyed the inclusion of the Bennet Sisters Brewery, not only as a setting and plot device but because it gave Jen and Erin a whole life and plot outside of their relationships, reflecting a modern world in which a woman’s life is not to get married and secure a home.
I was not always a fan of Darcy and Erin’s relationship. Obviously in the original Darcy and Elizabeth do not have a functional relationship but instead an acquaintanceship and growing attraction. Different adaptations address this in different ways, and in this retelling the relationship quickly becomes an attraction as opposed to long term pining. I felt this was perhaps to give more screentime to a lesbian couple, which is fair, but that this wasn’t the relationship to do that with. It threw off a bit of my orientation in the story due to how quickly Darcy and Erin’s relationship escalated in comparison to the rest of the plot, and made things feel off kilter occasionally.
CW: Sexual Trauma, Childhood Trauma, Bullying
As a shift from the original, Mr. Collins takes the form of Will. Will is the son of a college friend of Mr. Bennet’s and is brought in to help with Bennet’s business. Will also traumatized Erin when they were children, by humiliating her and blackmailing her during her early realizations of her sexuality. I won’t go too far into details, but it was an uncomfortable situation that does get a fair amount of discussion in the story but a hasty resolution and not a lot of analysis. It stuck out to me as a strange inclusion, since the majority of the plot would have gone well enough without it.
Ultimately, I really enjoyed this book. It’s a modern update to the Pride and Prejudice story that I know and love, and it gives a F/F relationship center stage. I am always interested, as a queer woman, in reading more queer stories and seeing our narratives put into retellings. I also enjoyed the novel for its own stories and settings. The writing was easy to follow, not too flowery or self important, and the dialogue was realistic for the time and the characters. All in all, it was good writing, an interesting plot, and fun and fully developed characters wrapped up in a neat little bow! I fully recommend this retelling to Pride and Prejudice fans, romance fans, and fans of LGBT+ love stories!