Sunday, May 29, 2016

Yes, Mr. Darcy by J Dawn King enjoyable read 4 stars

Yes, Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice NovellaYes, Mr. Darcy: A Pride and Prejudice Novella by J. Dawn King

Yes, Mr. Darcy is an unusual variation on Pride and Prejudice which takes the reader quite a distance from the original. It is well written and enjoyable, and I do recommend it, but purists be aware.

Mr. Bennet has determined the only way for his family to survive while he continues to spend his indolent life as he chooses is to arrange a marriage of his convenience between his second daughter, Elizabeth, and his heir, Mr. Collins. He would like the couple to marry and live at Longbourn so they can care for the estate for the rest of his life.

Elizabeth is given a short reprieve to travel to Derbyshire with her aunt and uncle Gardiner. While there she has a very life changing conversation with Georgiana Darcy. She recently returned from Ramsgate where George Wickham almost convinced her to elope. She is feeling terrible guilt and shame, and needs someone to talk to. Elizabeth comes to her rescue and Mr. Darcy sees this and wants to know her. But, Elizabeth disappears before any names can be exchanged. Darcy goes to every ball, dinner, etc. he can trying to find her. Finally, he heads to Netherfield to visit Bingley.

Now, Darcy finds Elizabeth at the Meryton assembly and he does not insult her. There actually is not any problem between the two of them. All issues are between them as a couple and those who do not want them to marry. Of course, we have our HEA, but there are a few worrisome moments.

I enjoyed the characters of Elizabeth and Darcy, and found the conversations very romantic. This was a fun read and I recommend J. Dawn King novels.

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Monday, May 23, 2016

Mr. Darcy's Vow by Timothy Underwood - 2 stars - unsuccessful executionn of an interesting premise

Mr. Darcy's Vow: A Pride and Prejudice StoryMr. Darcy's Vow: A Pride and Prejudice Story by Timothy Underwood

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

A very interesting premise of Darcy being in serious debt due to his father's overspending. In addition, he does not go to Ramsgate and Wickham is successful in his elopement with Georgiana. When Darcy arrives in Meryton, he is worried about money, unsure where Georgiana is with Wickham, and has just paid out her dowry of 30 thousand pounds through a loan from Bingley.

Although the premise is interesting, I am not sure it was successful as a story. This Darcy is less admirable than the original, although he is trying desperately to live up to his vow that he will not be like his father who wasted money, kept a mistress, and brought Pemberley to its knees financially. Darcy appears to stubbornly stick to the letter of this vow while not at all recognizing when it is hurting his own self-interest, not to mention that of Elizabeth. He continually attempts to stay a "rational man" and not let his emotions run away with him. From my perspective, he is very irrationally sticking to a vow. At one point he reminds himself he has an adequate income to marry anyone he chooses, even if a good portion of his income is still going to pay off the huge debt. He keeps telling himself over, and over, and over, that he must marry an heiress or his uncle Matlock will stop lending him money when he knows, and Bingley tells him, his uncle would not abandon him. He seems to believe he is being selfish and like his father to choose to marry a woman he loves. More troubling, however, is his ability to flip back and forth between wanting to marry Elizabeth (and demonstrating his love to her, so she and everyone around knows) and determining he cannot have her (hurting her and himself each time). He just seems like such a stubborn idiot over and over.

I also found little to admire in Elizabeth. She appears to be a loose cannon, letting her mouth go off pretty much wherever she is regardless of possible consequences to herself or to others. It is not only that what she says is improper, it is that it is not smart to attack people verbally when she doesn't know what they are capable of.

I really enjoyed The Return written by Underwood, but found the writing style in Mr. Darcy's Vow to be stiff and less descriptive. There was not a lot of emotion or a sense of place. The book is okay, but nothing to recommend to others.

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Friday, May 6, 2016

Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld 4 Stars - a very enjoyable modern day Pride and Prejudice

Eligible: A modern retelling of Pride and PrejudiceEligible: A modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice by Curtis Sittenfeld
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I am a crazy Jane Austen Fan Fiction (JAFF) reader. I have literally read hundreds of books based on her writing. I belong to 5 fan fiction websites where I read JAFF, specifically based on Pride and Prejudice. My preference has always been to read Regency variations, rewrites or alternates. I often comment that I have a hard time reading modern JAFF, but occasionally I find one I enjoy. Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld is one of those exceptions. I really enjoyed it!

First off, there is not a lot of variation from the original in Eligible, other than the modern setting. But, in order to stay true to the original, Sittenfeld had to come up with some pretty interesting situations in order to make it fit. For example, what mother in today's world worries about a 20 and 22 year old daughter who is not married? None. So, in Eligible, Elizabeth is 38 and Jane is just shy of 40. Now, Mrs. Bennett is definitely desperate and Jane, at least, is feeling her biological clock ticking. This is just one example of the very interesting plot twists Sittenfeld applies so that we get the feel of the original P&P - the same kind of angst and understanding of why what is happening is of concern to anyone. I found some of these hilarious and others very poignant.

So, what kind of man is particularly of interest to match-making mamas in today's world? Why, doctors, of course. And, Bingley was the male contestant on a reality show called Eligible, which is pretty much the fictional version of The Bachelor. Instead of the militia, who do Kitty and Lydia spend their time with? Men at a gym, of course, and they are paleo, too! I can't give you too many more examples, as it would fall into the category of spoilers, but it is just so much fun to read the creative situations the author has determined to have us experience the same feelings as the original.

Another important factor in staying true to JA is to tell the story almost totally from Elizabeth's perspective. Darcy says little, and we never hear his thoughts, just like in P&P. Jane Austen said she couldn't write from the man's perspective as she had no idea how a man thought, or what men said to each other when no women were present. So, she didn't write that. Sittenfeld has done the same, and very effectively.

There is a fair amount of sex in this version, which is kind of to be expected in a modern version. But, the hate sex is kind of interesting. I'm not sure I quite liked this Elizabeth as much as the original, and Lydia was even more annoying, but otherwise, this was a really enjoyable read. I certainly can recommend it to my JAFF loving friends. A solid 4 stars and maybe even 4 1/2.

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