Story Title: Pember Lake
Author Name: Sofie
Story Url: Story Link
Story Url: Story Link
Content Rating: All Ages
Length: 103,500 words
Story Summary: Bella Gardiner starts a new life and a new job at Pember Lake Elementary only to be insulted on her first day by the head teacher, Mr. D Fitzwilliam.
This is one of those rare modern adaptations of P&P which I completely love. I stayed up way too late one night reading this, and was an hour late to work the next day when I couldn’t quit reading in order to leave – and that was my second time through the story!
“Pember Lake” is a story I would recommend to my artist friends, my music friends, my teacher friends, and especially to my Canadian friends, thanks to the affectionate way the story addresses all of those aspects. When I finished the story, I particularly felt like I understood more about art than ever before, as that is one of the more dominant threads woven throughout this story. I love art and always have, but I don’t always understand it. Sofie manages to slip in a lot of art appreciation and education into this story which kept me from feeling utterly ignorant about the methods and the mentality behind an artist’s inspiration.
The story features a 20-something Bella whose life is in pieces before she winds up in the small town of Pember Lake looking for a job, a home, and a new beginning. I loved how the core personality traits of several canon characters were nicely transferred over into a modern context without feeling wooden or forced, and without losing anything in the process. The stand-in for Charlotte Lucas, for example, is just as pragmatic, but I don’t think she would’ve worked as well in this particular modern tale had she been willing to settle for a marriage of convenience. Instead, she has a different set of issues to work through as she reconciles her mind with her heart.
One of my favorite aspects of this story is how well the young students are written. I loathe stories in which the author forgets how to write children as children. Too many authors write kids as too mature or too childish, apparently struggling to keep their dialogue and actions accurate and appropriate for the correct ages. Sofie had no such problem. It was amusing to watch the students’ plots and intrigues, as they weren’t portrayed as irrelevant (the kids really did have some keen insights), but neither were their little dramas given more significance than they would have merited to the adults in the story.
Overall, I can’t praise this story highly enough. It wasn’t too angsty, yet it had enough dramatic tension and suspense to keep me riveted – and crying just a bit, on a few occasions! I also felt like I learned something about myself from watching Bella’s struggles. I love that in a story.
My Only Critique: I think I saw two typos. Given the story’s length, this should say a lot about how great Sofie’s writing abilities are. Aside from that, I’ll admit that I’m not particularly fond of the inclusion of lyrics within a story. It’s an old pet peeve left over from my days in another fandom which was over-run with teenage girls writing angst fics centered around pop music lyrics. Heaven help me! This was nothing like that, though. In this case, music really does play a major part in this story, and the lyrics that are sometimes quoted were from older, more thought-provoking songs which played a part in the plot. So, if, like me, you don’t care for songfics, don’t let that stop you from reading this story, as it’s nothing like the stereotypical blather that frequently makes up that trope.