Thank you for the advanced copy of ALL THE THINGS I KNOW by Audrey Ryan.  All opinions are my own.

All the Things I Know by Audrey Ryan

Lizzie Venetidis is confident in her decisions. Moving to Seattle with her sister Jane after she graduated from Stanford, for instance, was a no-brainer. Adult life, however, turns out to be more difficult to navigate than she expected.

What career should she pursue with a bachelor’s degree in art history and no marketable experience amongst a tech-heavy job market? How responsible is it to drink that fourth cocktail while out with friends? And what should she do about Darcy — the aloof yet captivating guy she met her first night in town?

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All the Things I Know

Review

All the Things I Know is the cleverly written debut novel from Audrey Ryan and is a fan fiction-style interpretation of Pride and Prejudice.  Set in the tech scene of Seattle, Ryan seamlessly incorporates elements of my beloved original and spins them in a fresh and modern way. 

The story follows the life of Elizabeth, but features all of our favorite (and not so favorite love-to-hate) characters through similar, yet updated for the current year, situations.

Elizabeth Venetidis is a recent college graduate grappling with all of the uncertainties and unknowns that come along with navigating life after college.  She moves to Seattle to live with her sister, Jane, a recent law school grad, with plans to be an art curator.  Until that happens, Lizzie ends up in menial jobs with no prospects for better employment. 

Being in Seattle forces Lizzie to navigate the waters of becoming an adult, with plenty of pitfalls and trials along the way.  Not having an established identity weighs heavily on her esteem and being around others who are secure in theirs only makes her feel worse. 

Meeting Chip (the Bingley of the story) and Darcy, and later their friends and family, adds another twist to Lizzie’s already difficult journey into adulthood.  Between expectations, uncertainties, and judgments, Lizzie has to fight to maintain her independence and making the best choices for her happiness.

I enjoyed this intelligently-written and engaging adaptation, and it’s one of the better modern updates I have read in recent years.  The names and situations translate well, with several liberties taken to update the story into modern times.  The difficult family life, friends who make bad decisions, and a fiery Elizabeth are all there.  I’m a big fan of retellings and this is one that I would recommend to anyone who loves them as much as I do. 

Excerpt

It’s a lazy Saturday afternoon, and I decide to bake and crank up my music as I gather the ingredients. It’s so loud I barely hear the apartment buzzer.

I click the intercom, puzzled. “Hello?”

“Hey, it’s, uh, Darcy.”

Surprised, I buzz him in.

“Did you run out of Saturday activities?” I joke as I answer the door.

“I felt like seeing you.” He smiles.

I wipe my flour-covered hands on my apron and indicate he should follow me to the kitchen.

“Jane could be home at any moment,” I warn.

“How is she doing?” he asks, apparently unconcerned.

“Okay,” I reply casually. “She’s talking about joining a dating website.”

“I have friends who’ve met their partners that way.”

“Yeah, I’m sure it’s a decent option. I’m not sure about Jane though. I think she’s probably just tired of waiting for some people to change their minds.”

“I see,” Darcy replies. He approaches me and indicates the lump of dough on the counter.

“What are you making?”

“My Yiayia’s butter cookies. I usually just make them for the holidays, but I felt inspired today.”

“Are you close to your family or just Jane?”

“I love my dad, but he lives in Chicago, and I don’t see him enough to be close to him. My mom is another subject altogether. But my aunt and uncle, my mom’s brother, live out here. That’s what motivated Jane and me to move to Seattle.”

“Are your aunt and uncle Greek too?”

“You’re full of questions today!”

Darcy shrugs. “Shouldn’t I be?”

“I guess,” I say dismissively. I start rolling the dough into a cylinder. I change the subject. “You’ve caught me in a rare domestic mood. I’m also doing laundry.”

“I’ve never actually done my own laundry.”

I start slicing the dough. “Are you serious? And I thought I had things to learn!”

“My parents didn’t think it was important.”

“I guess we’re all susceptible to our parents’ priorities.” If it weren’t for my mom, I never would have learned Pilates. Or Jazzercise.

Darcy draws closer to me. “At some point, we eventually have to break away from those expectations.”

A memory tickles my brain. Darcy’s frown that day we drove to the winery when I said Jane followed our mom’s life course.

Would he have encouraged Chip to dump Jane?

I dismiss the thought and start spreading the slices of dough across a cookie sheet. “Are you saying you need a laundry lesson?” I quip. He laughs.

We continue to chat while I wait for the oven to preheat when we hear the front door open.

“Darcy!” Jane exclaims in surprise when she enters the kitchen. She looks between us in question. I try not to grimace in guilt and force a look that says Darcy’s appearance is normal and expected. I wish I didn’t have to stretch the truth with her.

“Oh, hey, Jane.” Darcy shifts his feet and looks at me anxiously.

“Darcy was just returning my jacket,” I fib. “He gave me a ride home after that barbecue for Rose & Hunts I told you about.”

I’m thankful it’s not in Jane’s nature to be suspicious.

“Well, you have to take home some of Lizzie’s cookies. No one can make them like her except our late Yiayia.” She smiles at me sweetly, and my guilt intensifies. I feel like I’m cheating on her.

The oven beeps to indicate it’s preheated, and I almost jump.

“They’ll be ready soon!” I say overly cheerfully.

“Your jacket?” Darcy asks in confusion after Jane has left. I flinch.

“I don’t want to hurt Jane.”

Darcy stares me down incredulously. “How would our relationship hurt Jane?”

“How wouldn’t it?” I exclaim back. I glance back toward her room and lower my voice. “Can’t you see she’s still heartbroken?”

Darcy stares at me. “I thought—” He glances back toward Jane’s room before catching my eye again. “Have you told anyone about us?”

I shrug and place the cookies in the oven. “I’m just, you know, going with the flow.”

Darcy considers me for a while and sighs. “Sometimes I don’t understand you at all.”

“That makes two of us,” I mutter.

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About Audrey Ryan

Audrey Ryan is the nom de plume of Andrea Pangilinan: daydreamer, wife and step-mother, and obsessive story consumer. She studied writing in college, dreamt about becoming a novelist and slowly forgot about it when real life took over. With a particular affection for contemporary retellings, adapting Pride & Prejudice to modern day has always been a dream.

When she’s not reading and writing, Andrea is a marketing slave to the internet industry. She enjoys talking crazy to her weirdo cat, consuming copious amount of wine and coffee with her girlfriends, and record shopping with her husband. Oh yeah, and there’s that small Jane Austen obsession. That doesn’t take up any time at all.