Vanity and Vexation reads very quickly. I read it in a day while home with a cold. The dialog is glib and sometimes witty and things sail along pretty well, but there are some aspects that leave one feeling flat when all is said and done. I finished the book, with a "that's it?" feeling.
The transposition of the Pride and Prejudice plot and characters to 20th century Yorkshire worked for me. The Bennet contingent consists of the town locals, and the Darcy/Bingley group are the film company and cast who are in town to shoot the outdoor location shots for a television remake of P&P. Kate Fenton reverses the sexes of all the major characters. This worked for some but not for others. Mr. and Mrs. Bennet become the owners of the pub in the Yorkshire town. Bernard is behind the bar, not too swift, sometimes annoying, and lacking in tact. Sarah his wife runs the attached restaurant which serves gourmet, not pub, food. She is very sharp and isn't above making fun of her husband. I had no problem with them, nor with the Bingley sisters becoming the two lead actors in the film. Caroline Bingley's character becoming a narcissistic actor who thinks no one is as clever or attractive as he is, is quite good. Even Charles Bingley becoming Candia, the beautiful, flighty, but good tempered lead actress of the film was a successful switch.
The Darcy-Elizabeth reversals were a problem. Darcy becomes Mary, the film's director, and Elizabeth is Nick, a critically acclaimed, but not best-selling, novelist. Fenton tries to swing the Darcy pride onto Mary while keeping her likable enough to accept as the hero, and I didn't buy it. Mary is driven as a director for her art by her ambition, and that is why she treats people like dirt, but yet that's OK because it was for her art. Well, it wasn't OK; she was just a pain, and not even an interesting pain; nor does she ever see the light and mend her ways as Austen did to Darcy. Nick, could have been a genius in the newspaper biz, but he left for a more relaxed life as an author. He's funny and sharp-witted, but but basically just wants to drink with his mates and write enough to stay afloat. How Mary and Nick are ever supposed to be interested in each other as a couple I could never figure out. There's no chemistry, I mean zero chemistry, between them. And therein lay the fatal flaw of the book for me. Fenton's writing was fine, her minor characterizations were fun, and the Charles Bingley/Jane romance worked in Fenton's hands, but the Elizabeth/Darcy romance was a bust.