By Leslie Gould
Release Date: October 24th, 2014
Genre: Christian/Amish Fiction
Source: eARC via Netgalley
I was excited to be approved for the final book in Gould’s Shakespeare’s retelling series, entitled Becoming Bea, which is a retelling of the comedy Much Ado About Nothing.
I’ve really come to appreciate Gould’s artful intertwining of the original source material into the Amish world. Many of the plays have been very well adapted and I consider myself to have a pretty healthy appetite for retellings of any kind, whether they are classics, fairy tales or anything in between. This one, unfortunately, fell a little flat in comparison to some of the other novels written by Gould.
One of the things that I liked most about Minding Molly was that plenty of aspects of the original play were added to the novel, even those that were more minute. They just added a little extra flavor to the plot that readers of Shakespeare would enjoy, while the casual reader might not even catch them. I suppose I was rather spoiled with that, because the only real correlation between Much Ado About Nothing and Becoming Bea is the fact that the two main characters are named Beatrice and Ben, where in the play the characters are named Beatrice and Benedict. Of course, the main characters in the play and in the novel find themselves victims of unrequited love, are secretly madly in love with each other, and swear up and down they will never marry – but that is where the similarities pretty much end.
In the play, their friends realize they love each other and try their best to convince them, and even trick them at one point! – into liking each other. Gould never really touched on this in the book, unless it’s by the sporadic mentionings by their friends that they would be a good together. I would have liked to see a little more matchmaking going on. And even a singing in which Ben and Bea reluctantly spoke with each other.In Gould’s retelling, a major part of the plot is that another Amish bachelor, Don, wants to court Bea while she still has feelings for Ben. In the original play, Don John is up to all sorts of mischief, similar to Gould’s character, but aside from one major incident (which I won’t elaborate on, for fear of spoiling anything), there wasn’t much correlation. In the play, he’s trying to disrupt Claudio and Hero’s wedding, but in the book he’s trying to break up Bea and Ben? I’m just… confused. Perhaps I’m not remembering the original play correctly, but these facts just don’t add up.
That said, it’s not like the whole book, in and of itself, was bad. I enjoyed seeing Bea change from a self-absorbed and prickly individual to a gentler and more understanding person and the banter that she and Ben shared was amusing. I loved their little spelling game!Despite the fact that some parts of the book dragged and that some plot devices didn’t correlate with the play, I’m glad I read it and saw the series through to an end. If you are a fan of retellings like I am, this series (although, not particularly this book) is definitely one of the best.