Darcy’s Passions

Darcy's Passions: Pride and Prejudice Through His Eyes Darcy’s Passions: Pride and Prejudice Through His Eyes by Regina Jeffers

This book vacillated between two and maybe three and a half stars (out of five) for me. The author did a good job of fleshing out the story while sticking to Jane Austen’s framework. She paraphrases from the original, which I don’t mind, but sometimes ends up changing the intent. (The original is better.) It begins just after Bingley has taken Netherfield Park, and ends with a New Year’s party at Pemberley two months after the weddings. The last third of the book covers those two months. Here is where it got a bit tedious for me. If you like romance stories, and don’t mind the constant mutual adoration going on (with a few little slips into self-doubts) then this is the book for you. I got a little tired of the affectedness of italicizing words for emphasis, and the female characters repetitive giggling over everything. There are also some annoying misuses of words, and mispellings (like “peaked his curiosity… Arghhh!) The author tries to make it sexually titillating, but never delivers anything explicit. That could be a plus or a minus depending on what you like. I found it very distracting, and really not in the style of Jane Austen. It’s everything I hate about romances without much substance. Her insights into Darcy and his behavior lifted the book out of mediocrity. On the whole, it wasn’t bad.

Book Description from Amazon:
Witty and amusing, this novel captures the original style, themes and sardonic humor of Jane Austen’s novel while turning the entire story on its head in a most engaging and entertaining fashion. Darcy’s Passions tells the story of Fitzwilliam Darcy and his obsession with the most impossible woman—Elizabeth Bennet.

It presents Darcy as a man in turmoil. His duty to his family and his estate demand he choose a woman of refined tastes. Yet, what his mind tells him to do and what his heart knows to be true are two different things. He loves a woman he first denies for being unworthy, but it is he who is found wanting when Elizabeth Bennet refuses his proposal of marriage. Devastated, he must search his soul and transform himself into the man she can love and respect.

Fitzwilliam Darcy in the original Pride and Prejudice is a major “minor” character. He is the hero of the tale, but the reader never really knows how he creates the changes we accept as part of his personality. This book tells how Darcy found the way within himself to become the hero, and not the villain, of this beloved tale.

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Twilight

Twilight (Twilight, #1) Twilight by Stephenie Meyer

Stephanie Meyer has noted that each of the novels in the Twilight Saga pays homage to other literary classics. For Twilight, she has said Pride and Prejudice was the key inspiration. Well, I suppose it isn’t any worse than some of the other P&P fanfic out there. Beyond the superficial – the relationship of Bella and her father, a mother prone to hystrionics, a boyfriend who goes out of his way to avoid her (at first), and a passionate love that develops out of very little substance, oh, and a few letters thrown in here and there – there is no comparison. Bella is no Elizabeth Bennet. She is a very insecure teenager who seems to have a classic martyr complex. While Edward is a creepy stalker, made somehow wholesome by the fact that he abstains from human blood.

I assigned this book to a local book club of Red Hat ladies because of its popularity. I didn’t know what to expect. To my surprise, they all loved it! What is the appeal, I asked, because I don’t get it. It’s spiritual, one woman replied. It opens you up to the paranormal – I like the idea that there are things out there that we don’t know about. Okay, I get that. It’s a fantasy. On the other hand, these women will tell you that they don’t “like” the fantasy genre. We all have fantasies about flirting with danger. I think the idea of becoming immortal also has a certain appeal. But I still don’t get the romance. I failed to understand what the characters saw in each other. Silly me, wanting some depth of character. It had about as much substance as Nights in Rodanthe by Nicholas Sparks, which I read for the same book club, not too long ago. And that one, we all agreed, was “fluff.” A quick and easy book for a day at the beach – no thinking required.

Perhaps a few Twilight fans will go on to read Pride and Prejudice. Harper has come out with a new “Twilight” edition of classics aimed at teen readers with covers reminiscent of the Twilight series. And will Pride and Prejudice fans turn to the likes of “Mr. Darcy, Vampire”? I have to admit that there is a certain logic behind imagining the haughty and stone-faced Fitzwilliam Darcy as a vampire.

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

P&P 2005

Pride and Prejudice (2005)

Starring: Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen

Director: Joe Wright (IV)

Length: 127 minutes

I probably should have tagged this “18th century” since the producers chose to set this film in 1797 rather than Regency England. It makes for more flattering costumes perhaps, though it presents a more rural England. The Bennets seem much poorer and lower class than Jane Austen wrote them. By contrast, Darcy and Lady Catherine seem much richer, almost on a par with royalty. This is a wonderful film, although Jane Austen purists will have to set aside their, um, prejudice…  The cinematography is highly artistic and well-done. The musical score is wonderful. I’d buy a CD of just the soundtrack.

The script alters lines from Austen, often losing the irony of the original. But the romance is well done. The girls look their ages, which is refreshing. This was the best Mr. and Mrs. Bennet, in my opinion. And Mr. Collins was also wonderful. The proposal scene between Collins and Elizabeth is priceless. On the other hand, I did not care for the stilted acting of Wickham and Caroline Bingley. Fortunately they had minimal parts. Mr. and Mrs. Hurst were omitted entirely from this movie. And the Gardiners had no children.

Besides what I felt were 20th century mannerisms, there was at least one scene which seemed like a historical faux pas to me – the scene where Elizabeth asks Darcy to dance. Perhaps someone will correct me, but I don’t think that would have been done. It wasn’t even very common when I was in high school, let alone in the 18th century! I also thought it was silly to have the entire room come to a standstill and gawk when Darcy and Bingley entered the ball. They might have been rich, but I think the gawking would have been much more surreptitious.

Anyway, it is a beautifully done film. Just don’t expect it to be true to Jane Austen.