Tag Archives: Mr Darcy

The Darcy Cousins

Fairview, Monica. The Darcy Cousins (2010). 432 Pages. Sourcebooks Inc. $14.99

As the sequel to a Pride & Prejudice sequel, I have to admit that I was not expecting much. Sure, I enjoyed The Other Mr. Darcy immensely, and I thought that Ms Fairview did an excellent job and had beautiful prose, but I was also expecting that she would be a one-hit-wonder, so imagine my surprise when I found that I loved this book just as much as (if not more than) its prequel, which makes me glad I own it*.

Seventeen year-old Georgiana Darcy** is a proper young lady who– thanks to her incredibly overprotective older brother– has lead a very sheltered life. When Miss Clarissa Darcy– younger sister to Robert– arrives leaving a trail of impropriety in her wake, Georgiana hardly knows what to do. Her lively American cousin drags Georgiana along as she rushes headlong into her first London Season.

Young men flock to Clarissa– she is outgoing and charming, and far less reserved than most British ladies. Georgiana is awed by her cousin, and seeks to take pages from her book, learning to be a strong young woman while still being proper is a fine line to tread, but Georgiana attempts it nonetheless. There are several very handsome, very available young men vying for the attention of both Georgiana and Clarissa, which is just fine until both ladies find themselves to be interested in the very same young man.

The plot is not quite so simple as cousins fighting over one young man,  however. Clarissa has her reasons for her appearance in England, Anne deBourgh discovers her backbone, and Georgiana grows up from innocent child to strong woman. This story is mostly (but not exclusively) about Georgiana; the other female cousins are present, but are not really the focus of the story.

The Quick Version:

Again, the prose is strong, and manages to be Austenesque without imitating Austen outright. Georgiana is a fascinating main character who really grows from an innocent, naive child into a strong young woman through the book. Clarissa, too, grows, as does Anne, though neither of them are truly the center of the plot. It will be interesting to see if either of these characters end up with their own P&P Sequel-Sequel-Sequel. The book gets a 5/5, because as the story retreats further from the original book, it becomes stronger and more original.

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*I searched all of the libraries which I have a card to, as well as Link+, only to find out that not a single library owned a copy. When I went to Borders, I learned that they supposedly had one copy, but nobody could find it. I was nearly ready to give up, when I found out that you can have store employees locate and reserve books for you at Borders. This discovery will likely save me a ton of time and money in the future, as I won’t have to browse the store to find what I want, I can come in, pick it up, and flee before my tab reaches the hundreds as it usually does.

** I find the way that the eldest is “Miss ___” while the others are “Miss ___ ____” as in, Miss Darcy and Miss Clarissa Darcy or “Mr ___” and “Mr ___ ____”, like Mr Darcy and Mr Robert Darcy very interesting. It gets a bit confusing at times because of this, but mostly it’s easy to resolve if you pay attention to the presence or absence of first names.

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The Other Mr. Darcy

Fairview, Monica. The Other Mr. Darcy (2009). 351 Pages. Sourcebooks Inc. $14.99

This was another impulse grab from the library, and I’m actually sort of glad I picked it up. I had really only intended to drop off one book, but as I’d gone to the trouble of riding my bike there, I decided to spend a bit of time enjoying the coolness. The end result was me walking away with a couple new Pride & Prejudice reinterpretations (as well as a couple other books I hope to get through in the next couple days). I am actually glad I opted to pick this one up, because I really did like it a lot. (Once I managed to forgive the rather awkward character insertion which serves as the lynchpin for the main plot.)

Caroline Bingley sank to the floor, her silk crepe dress crumpling up beneath her. Tears spurted from her eyes and poured down her face and, to her absolute dismay, a snorting, choking kind of sound issued from her mouth.

“This is most improper,” she tried to mutter, but the sobs– since that was what they were– the sobs refused to stay down her throat where they were supposed to be .

She had never sobbed in her life, so she could not possibly be sobbing now.

But the horrible sounds kept coming from her throat. And water– tears— persisted in squeezing past her eyes and down her face.

Caroline Bingley was raised to be a Proper Lady, one who would enter the peerage by marrying Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy. Unfortunately for Caroline’s plans, Darcy met Elizabeth Bennet- in a story I hope we all already know at least in passing- and married her. This book opens with Caroline’s breakdown on Mr. Darcy’s wedding day. She allows herself to privately weep for her lost love and indulge in tears for the first time in her adult life. However, Caroline is not as alone as she thought, and she is even more distraught to find out that she has been observed by a stranger.

Months later, the stranger appears at the Bingley’s door. It turns out that he is Mr. Robert Darcy from Boston– that’s right, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy has a cousin from America– and he has come to summon Jane to Elizabeth’s side. Charles and Jane dash off to Pemberly, leaving Robert to escort Caroline (and Louisa, the recently widowed other Bingley sister) to Pemberly. The two, having not met under the best of circumstances, are not exactly pleased to be spending time together. In an effort to make the situation less awkward, Caroline has invited along another Darcy-Cousin; Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Things happen, the two have to spend more time together, there is romantic entanglement, drama, intrigue, and more drama. I’m sure nobody will be surprised to learn that there is eventually the happily-ever-after; it’s obvious from page 1. What makes this book interesting is the way it delves into Caroline, explaining things about her personality, and showing that she is, in fact, not such a terrible person. Robert, too, develops into an interesting character through the course of the novel.

The Quick Version:

As long as we ignore the fact that the character-insert is an incredibly fan-fiction-esque plot device, and we allow for the fact that Caroline was a first-class manipulative bitch in Pride & Prejudice, this book is actually really, really good. The writing is top-notch, and the book does not try to force itself to sound like Austen. The book is romantic without being overly sexual, and is actually very well executed. I’m going to give it a 4/5 because while it is a very enjoyable book, the fact remains that it uses a terrible plot device as its main premise.
This book is part of the Local Library Reading Challenge!

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The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy

Angelini, Sara. The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy (2009). 338 Pages. Sourcebooks Inc. $14.99

When I go to the library, even when it’s for something as innocent as “just returning a book” I leave with more than I intended to. This latest trip to the library saw me returning the un-censored version of Deep Secret and resulted in me checking out a stack of books, one of which I actually knew about before I got to the library. First up on this impulse-grab trip is The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy: A Modern Pride & Prejudice.

It takes some minor inspiration from the original; “While Judge Darcy avoided meditating on the very great pleasure a pair of fine eyes in the face of a pretty woman can bestow…” (13), for example, recalls a line from the original Pride and Prejudice. But as a whole, the only things which remain the same are the character names and relationships (in the barest sense of the word “relationship”). If you can disentangle the names from Miss Austen’s original work, then you might enjoy this book, but don’t expect it to be a good Austen retelling.

Elizabeth Bennet is a clever, sassy female attorney (who is more Ally McBeal than Austen). Fitzwilliam Darcy is a harsh-but-fair Judge. Charles Bingley is a successful surgeon, as is Jane Bennet. Caroline Bingley is a cutthroat real estate tycoon, and is Darcy’s friend-with-benefits. Mrs. Bennet is silly and marriage obsessed, but the logic behind her obsession is not present here. There is no such thing as en entailed estate, and that means that her daughters not marrying promptly does not put them at any risk. Mr Wickham does not appear, Mr Collins is mentioned only in passing, and Charlotte Lucas does not make sense in this modern context. Add to that the fact that Elizabeth has acquired a gay best friend whom (we are repeatedly told) she “would have married if he were straight”, and we’ve got absolutely nothing left of the original work.

Does this mean that it’s a bad story? No, actually. While the “oh my goodness they hate each other, but then they learn to love and they live together and are happy forever after” is not new, and is not really the most amazing of plots, it is an entertaining read. So, let’s take a few moments to consider it as a book which has no relation to Austen’s work (because if we really treat it as a retelling, it bombs).

Lizzie Bennet is a new attorney who had a horrible first day in Judge Darcy’s courtroom. Because of her horrible first day, she decided that she dislikes him, and spends a lot of time making “clever, barbed comments” which for some reason, Will (which is what Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is called) misconstrues as flirting. Cue a lot of infatuation-from-a-distance on Darcy’s part and continue building up to the point that Darcy asks Elizabeth to work with him on a legal paper and she says no. (I think this was supposed to parallel the first proposal, but I don’t know, and more to the point, it’s better if we pretend it’s separate from the work which it was trying to re-write).  They clash, and she commits career-suicide by telling him off.

Meanwhile Jane and Charley have fallen in love over the surgery table. Charley (Bingley)’s friend has a home in London and he’s opened his home for them to visit. Jane invites Elizabeth along, thinking the vacation will do her sister some good. Cue some silliness which leads to Lizzie and Will starting a torrid affair which will end when they leave England because in America, they are Ms Bennet the Attorney and Mr Darcy the Judge, and the American Bar Association says that they shall not be in a relationship if she tries cases in his courtroom. This is the major obstacle which they have to overcome. The romance in England is sweet, and the scenes between the two are detailed (a little too detailed at times, I think). When they get back to America is when it gets downright annoying. “I love you so much.” “We have to end it” “But I want you” “But it’s over” “But I love you” *implosion*

The Quick Version:

As a Pride and Prejudice rewrite, this book bombs. As a complicated modern romance, it does alright. The writing is not fabulous, but it’s not terrible. The story is pretty good, for the most part. It gets a 3 out of 5, because it’s a solid book, but it’s nothing  amazing.

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I am going to rant, for a moment, however. Angelini claims to live in San Francisco, and while I attempted to accept this, she referred to the “Pacific Highway” as a main thoroughfare from San Francisco to its suburb of “Meryton”. In California, there are a lot of highways and freeways. None of them are the “Pacific Highway.” In Southern California, a stretch of Highway 1 is referred to as the “P.C.H.” for the Pacific Coast Highway, however in San Francisco it is called “Highway 1” or through section-specific nicknames like “Devil’s Slide” or “Shoreline Highway” or even, in one place the “Cabrillo Highway.” If you are going to set a book in a city, for goodness sakes get street names and freeway names right. As a native Californian (and not just that, but one who has lived within 2 miles of Highway 1 my entire life), I caught that, and actually growled in annoyance.

This book is part of the Local Library Reading Challenge!

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Austenland

Hale, Shannon. Austenland: A Novel (2007). 193 Pages. Bloomsbury. $19.95

Thirty-three year-old Jane Hayes– like many women– has an unhealthy obsession with Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy of Pemberly, specifically the version of him portrayed by the fabulous Colin Firth*. When her Great-Aunt Carolyn dies and leaves her a trip to the Austen-themed Pembrook Park, Jane views it as a chance to excise her obsession through gluttony.

When she arrives at Pembrook Park, she is versed in the rules of the era, stripped of all traces of the modern world, corseted, and sent to the manor** to live with historical accuracy (or something resembling it) for three full weeks. While she is at the manor, she is to be known as Miss Jane Erstwhile, and she is to behave like a proper lady. Also at the manor are Miss Charming and Miss Heartwright, who are both valued, repeat customers– something Jane will never be, due to her financial situation. For the enjoyment of the ladies, gorgeous gentlemen have been gathered; the Darcy-esque Mr Nobley, the handsome Colonel Andrews, and the dashing Captain East.

It takes some time for Jane to get over the silliness of the whole experience (as well as the difficulty she faces as the least affluent and thus least desirable guest).Despite this, Jane finds herself drawn to both the very 21st-century Martin the gardener (who shows her that it is possible to not compare every man to Mr Darcy), as well as Mr Nobley who embodies everything Austen’s books have brought her to desire. As she relaxes into the game, she finds her desires changing, allowing her to leave Pembrook Park as a new Jane.

Austenland is cute, but not deep. Jane is the sort of character who draws you in with her clumsy charm, and keeps you rooting for her as she stumbles along the path toward her goal. She manages to both fumble completely, and still wind up happy at the end. (And, big surprise, she gets the guy- though I won’t say which one). I feel like the end of the book would have been better if she had been more self-reliant, instead of wrapping up with a romance, and as much as I love romance, it does pain me to admit that it didn’t quite work right here.

The Quick Version:

As a whole, I feel that while this book was entertaining (they all are, to some degree), and I liked Jane, the story could have been better. It kept me busy for a few hours, and did manage to slip in some Austen humor. The romance is (mostly) believable, and does work, though the end feels a bit too much like a happily-ever-after. It gets a 3 out of 5.

Get it through Amazon or Swaptree.

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* Many Pride and Prejudice fans are polarized, and their Mr Darcy is either Firth or Macfayden. (Which one is yours?)

** Sounding familiar?

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