Most Ardently by Gabe Cole Novoa (Remixed Classics #9)

In the Remixed Classics series, authors from marginalized backgrounds reinterpret classic works through their own cultural lens to subvert the overwhelming cishet, white, and male canon. This bittersweet Pride & Prejudice remix follows a trans boy yearning for the freedom to live openly, centering queerness in a well-known story of longing and subverting society’s patriarchal and cisheteronormative expectations.

London, 1812. Oliver Bennet feels trapped. Not just by the endless corsets, petticoats and skirts he's forced to wear on a daily basis, but also by society's expectations. The world—and the vast majority of his family and friends—think Oliver is a girl named Elizabeth. He is therefore expected to mingle at balls wearing a pretty dress, entertain suitors regardless of his interest in them, and ultimately become someone's wife.

But Oliver can't bear the thought of such a fate. He finds solace in the few times he can sneak out of his family's home and explore the city rightfully dressed as a young gentleman. It's during one such excursion when Oliver becomes acquainted with Darcy, a sulky young man who had been rude to "Elizabeth" at a recent social function. But in the comfort of being out of the public eye, Oliver comes to find that Darcy is actually a sweet, intelligent boy with a warm heart. And not to mention incredibly attractive.

As Oliver is able to spend more time as his true self, often with Darcy, part of him dares begin to hope that his dream of love and life as a man to be possible. But suitors are growing bolder—and even threatening—and his mother is growing more desperate to see him settled into an engagement. Oliver will have to choose: Settle for safety, security, and a life of pretending to be something he's not, or risk it all for a slim chance at freedom, love, and a life that can be truly, honestly his own.

CONTRIBUTOR(S): Harrison Knights (Narrator)
PUBLISHER: Feiwel & Friends
YEAR: 2024
LENGTH: 294 pages (7 hours 29 minutes)
AGE: Young Adult
GENRE: Historical, Romance

Queer Rep Summary: Lesbian/Sapphic Secondary Character(s), Gay/Achillean Main Character(s), Bi/Pan Secondary Character(s), Genderqueer/Nonbinary Minor Character(s), Trans Main Character(s), Closeted/Questioning Main Character(s).

MOST ARDENTLY is a retelling of Jane Austen's PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, where Oliver is a trans boy whose family still thinks his name is Elizabeth. When he meets Darcy originally, Oliver is dressed as a girl and the other boy is very dismissive of him. A day or so later, he's at a local fair as himself and ends up spending the day with Darcy and Bingley. As the two sides of his life collide, soon he has to choose whether to declare himself or to let nefarious actors force the issue for him.

One of my favorite parts of this retelling is the way that it provides an explanation beyond plot convenience for Darcy to have inconsistent reactions to Oliver. Instead of Darcy being hot and cold to someone who seems to be the same person, his reactions around Oliver as a girl are impacted by getting to spend time with Oliver as a boy and maybe starting to fall for him. For those not familiar with the original story, this stands on its own and doesn't require any prior knowledge in order to make sense. 

I enjoyed this as a retelling and as its own story, a great addition to the Remixed Classics series!

If you like this you may like:

  • THE SPIRIT BARES ITS TEETH by Andrew Joseph White (trans boy, historical)
  • CEMETERY BOYS by Aiden Thomas (trans boy, romance)
  • THE WICKED BARGAIN by Gabe Cole Novoa (trans, historical/fantasy, by the same author)

Graphic/Explicit CW for classism, sexism, misogyny, dysphoria, disassociation.

Moderate CW for transphobia, panic attack, deadnaming, misgendering.

Minor CW for pregnancy, emotional abuse, physical abuse, death.

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Two young men in suits, one is in a red coat and pants with a white shirt, the other is in a green coat and black pants and vest, holding a book. Their hands almost touch as the one in green walks by.


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