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Ontology on the gone!

The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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02/06/2005 Archived Entry: "Book review: Mr. Darcy"

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife: Pride and Prejudice Continues
By Linda Berdoll
476 pages
Published by Landmark
ISBN: 1402202733
476 Pages, $16.95

Reviewed by Lene Taylor

Dear Readers, this is a bad book. I hate to start off a review so bluntly, but we should have no secrets from each other, you and I. I've seen this book referred to many times as a sequel, which it is certainly not, if you accept the definition of "sequel" as "A literary, dramatic, or cinematic work whose narrative continues that of a preexisting work." The narrative of Mr. Darcy does many things, but it does not continue the narrative of the classic novel by Jane Austen.

Publishing fanfiction as actual fiction is quite the trend these days. It's grown beyond its origins in the Star Trek and Star Wars universes to include "sequels" to Emma, Wuthering Heights, and Rebecca, to name just a few. (Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead is an actual work of art all by itself and is in no way a sequel.) Publishers must be having multiple orgasms over this discovery: hire some low-level editor to scour the web for half-decent fanfic about a book that's in the public domain, slap a classical cover on it, and watch it sell a million copies. Extra points if it has lots of explicit sex, and if the author is a Big Name Fan with a built-in fanbase.

This book, therefore, gets about 500 points right off, since it has more explicit sex scenes in it than the last book I read from Torquere Press. The amusement of reading about Darcy and Elizabeth fucking, even with the endless variety of faux-Georgian euphemisms for sex and genitalia, wears thin pretty quickly and one begins to wish for Jane and Bingley to join them in a foursome. The authoress, apparently, forgot to include a plot in the first 2/3 of the book and so the last 60 pages are crammed with birth, death, war, and all manner of shocking paternity revelations. Darcy lives; Elizabeth lives; they have twins. There. Now you donít need to read it.

Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (*takes* a wife Ė get it? Nudge nudge, wink wink) is a badly written book as well, with misspellings and impossible word use galore. This is perhaps my favorite exhange between our two randy lovebirds:

She mouthed the words, "I love you."
He wordlessly said, "I know."

I laughed for 10 minutes over that. While perusing some of the reviews on Amazon.com, I noticed that some fans of this book defended the author's excessively convoluted style as satire, trying to out-Austen Austen, I suppose. The same excuse is given for all the sex Ė of course it's nothing like Pride and Prejudice, it's a comedy! Itís a rollicking, bawdy homage!

Well, you know what? It's bullshit. You canít have it both ways. If you're going to write a comedy, you can't fill it with dead children, suffering, and emotional pain; if you're going to write satire, your pen had better be as sharp as a boning knife and you damn well better know the difference between "prone" and "supine". It's as if the author is saying "If you liked it, then I wrote a good book; if you thought it was bad, then I meant it as satire and you missed the point." Hedging your bets is no way to write a novel.

In closing, dear readers, let me say how glad I am that I did not purchase this book. I read it on a dare from a friend and I will be happy to return it to her. You owe me lunch, JK.

Replies: 1 Comment

As a mere high school student, I canít possibly say that my opinion holds any weight on the subject, but I must say, I am a huge Pride and Prejudice fan, like so many of us are. (Iím not much of a romantic either, so this was actually quite shocking.) Elizabeth and Darcy are two of my all time favorite characters amongst the books I have read, so yes, I was thrilled to see a wide variety of sequels. Although Jane Austenís brilliance can be characterized by her amazing writing abilities, I found to have loved her characters and the plot, much more than the style. So, for those of you who are reading this book only because you love Jane Austen, I find this book doesnít capture her writing abilities and you may not necessarily like it, unless you go in with an open mind. But for those like myself, who are reading this book to find a much anticipated ending to Austensí beloved characters, this is definitely the book for you. Now to my opinion of the book Ė as most have mentioned, the explicit bedroom scenes were, to my virgin ears, a bit too graphic, but to an adult, this book might not be so bad. (For those who might assume it couldnít be as bad as everybody is making it out to be, think again. I almost felt a need to attend church after I read the beginning chapters.) But after awhile, the graphic scenes died down. Other than that and the fact that it was, at times, extremely verbose and after every other sentence I had to pick up a dictionary, I found those to be the only two minor deficiencies of the book. In the end, I actually found the book to be quite intriguing and I was completely absorbed in the book for about a week and every time I wasnít reading the book, I was thinking about it and wondering what was going to happen next. The book is long, yes, but at the very end, I found myself slowing my reading pace to savor every last word-I didnít want it to finish. But now that itís officially over, I find that Iím still thinking about it constantly. To me, the book was exciting, well organized, and absolutely fascinating. It made me laugh, cry, and pound my pillow amidst all the action. It was a perfect ending to the perfect book and now that itíd over, I find myself bored with all other books and am quite sad that itís over. I could read the other sequels, but I found this one to be utterly perfect and if I read another, Iíd feel the authenticity and genuineness of Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife would disappear. I absolutely enjoyed this book and on a scale of one to ten, itís definitely a eight and a half.

Posted by Alyse @ 06/14/2005 03:18 PM PST

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