Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Review & Giveaway: MR. FITZWILLIAM DARCY, LAST MAN IN THE WORLD
MR. FITZWILLIAM DARCY, THE LAST MAN IN THE WORLD
What if the most famous proposal rejection in literary history had been accepted?
Title: Excellent. Iconic hero name + instantly recognizable quote fragment = win.
Art: Semi-headless man looking neckless as well due to period fashion, wearing muddy-colored clothing, slouched posture in contrast to usual bearing of hero, Bonapartesque right hand placement. The only nice touch - watch fob showing heroine's portrait - undone by odd placement. This book deserved better.
The wave of stories using Austen as a springboard is gaining momentum. There is now a Jane-homage in almost any shape the reader may desire: time travel, newly discovered relatives, sleuthing, jaunts to other continents, espionage, paranormal. This story stayed more true to the original novel, imagining how drastically (or not?) a different decision would have altered the course of events and ultimate ending for the familiar group of characters.
It was an entertaining ride. The author is highly skilled at using the language and evoking the atmosphere of the original works, so that Apprentice Writer never once felt jolted by an anachronistic-sounding word or modern-feeling situation. AW was also intrigued by how the author would deal with some key moments, and pleased at how the previous actions were changed but in a way that felt satisfying and genuine for the characters. An encounter with ever-exasperating Lydia and reliably villainous Wickham was especially cathartic.
In the original, Pemberly seems like a mirage, too good to be true. It was nice to get to know that setting, and also to see more of the easy, loving relationship between Darcy and his sister. But most of all, it was wonderful to delve deeper into Darcy's character, and realize all over again what an unparalleled heroic figure he makes.
WARNING! MILD SPOILERS!
After her arrival at Pemberly, Elizabeth spends almost all her time on the estate, with only Darcy, the servants, and later her sister-in-law for company. We already know that there is tension between the spouses, the sisters-in-law are more or less strangers to each other, and the servants don't count due to difference in social station, nor visits with tenant families for the same reason. There are no descriptions of trips to the local village, visits at neighboring homes, gatherings, or entertaining anyone beyond a brief stopover by her aunt and uncle. The story takes place with Elizabeth in virtual social isolation.
It wasn't hard to imagine possible writerly reasons: using limited wordcount for primary story, increasing tenstion between spouses to enhance the emotion, the logic of life on Pemberly being on a very different social level from her accustomed environment where she'd known everyone nearby all her life and participated in all sorts of gatherings. But even theouh Elizabeth's much more solitary state made sense in a way, it was strange that she herself didn't seem to recognize the effect this had on her. Also, part of the fun of Austenworld is how the characters bounce off each other and their unique conversations and interpretations of each other's behavior. To have the story remain so heavily concentrated on Elizabeth and Darcy alone made the story not seem quite as well-rounded as this reader would have preferred. Perhaps the next volume from this author will reflect social aspects of Austenworld more.
END SPOILER WARNING!
A lovely visit back to the world of P & P, where hero and heroine still push themselves and each other to figure out what pride and prejudice mean. This is a story to make any reader who ever loved Darcy love him even more.
Do you like Austen-inspired novels? Prefer the original? Think Apprentice Writer has no clue about art?
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of this story from the publisher,
and come back tomorrow for chat with the author
and a chance to win another copy!
The Fine Print:
1. US and Canada only, no P.O. Boxes please.
2. Leave a way to get in touch if your name does not link to a site.
3. Contest closes 21 January 2010.
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