Title: Speak Easy, Speak Love
Author: McKelle George
Genre: YA / Historical / Retelling
Synopsis: Six teenagers’ lives intertwine during one thrilling summer full of romantic misunderstandings and dangerous deals in this sparkling retelling of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.
After she gets kicked out of boarding school, seventeen-year-old Beatrice goes to her uncle’s estate on Long Island. But Hey Nonny Nonny is more than just a rundown old mansion. Beatrice’s cousin, Hero, runs a struggling speakeasy out of the basement—one that might not survive the summer. Along with Prince, a poor young man determined to prove his worth; his brother John, a dark and dangerous agent of the local mob; Benedick, a handsome trust-fund kid trying to become a writer; and Maggie, a beautiful and talented singer; Beatrice and Hero throw all their efforts into planning a massive party to save the speakeasy. Despite all their worries, the summer is beautiful, love is in the air, and Beatrice and Benedick are caught up in a romantic battle of wits that their friends might be quietly orchestrating in the background. (taken from Goodreads)
Oh gosh. My first ARC Review! Okay so I might have freaked when I saw that my request had been approved on Edelweiss (thank you so much, Greenwillow/HarperCollins!). After realizing Speak Easy, Speak Love was a Much Ado About Nothing retelling, of course I had to try my luck in nabbing a copy! Much Ado About Nothing is one of my favorite Shakespeare plays ever. I actually went and watched the 1993 movie before diving into the book. Uh… and I might have also watched the movie again after I finished the book… and then watched the stage version with David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Heh.
As excited as I was about this book, I couldn’t help but also be a teensy bit wary. Come on. It’s a retelling of one of my favorite plays. I was either going to love it or going to hate it, and I definitely hoped it wouldn’t be the latter. But the second I finished reading, I wondered why the hell I had any worries in the first place.
Speak Easy, Speak Love is a delightfully clever and entertainingly hilarious adaptation. It took me a while to get into the flow of the story, but once I was comfortable with the pace and the writing, I got addicted. The dialogue had me grinning from ear to ear. Chock full of witty banter and not to mention, the numerous nods to the original repartee in the play. It’s probably my favorite thing about the book.
Even though I already knew what was basically going to happen with the major plot points and everything, the author still managed to surprise me for the most part. Changes were made, but hell, I love each and every one of them. Most notably, the characters have more depth, with their own motivations, aspirations, and backstories. You know, aside from falling in love. While the book is definitely more character driven than anything, these new additions work to propel the story forward. It also serves John’s character, in particular, especially well. In this version, he is more than the bitter bad guy doing despicable things just because he can. Also, as someone who severely dislikes Claudio, I am very much grateful for the changes George makes with his story.
The relationships are all so endearing! Beatrice and Benedick’s will always be my favorite, but the others came pretty damn close. And it isn’t just the romantic relationships that I’ve fallen in love with, but the friendships and the tandem of the entire cast. These characters adore each other and care for each other so much, it’s heartwarming!
Despite the changes, the book manages to retain the spirit of the original play. Those who consider themselves fans will definitely appreciate the references, and those who have never even touched the play will probably end up wanting to check the original one out. No doubt I’ll be ordering a physical copy for myself. Definitely one of my favorite reads of the year!
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