Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A Perfect Bride For Mr Darcy by Mary Simonsen

Convinced that the lovely Elizabeth Bennet is her brother's soul mate, Georgiana Darcy enlists her clever and not at all snobbish cousin Anne de Bourgh in ensuring that pride and prejudice aren't able to keep these two hearts apart. All is going according to plan until Lydia Bennet brings scandal on the family by eloping with George Wickham, and Darcy is called away from Elizabeth's side before he has a chance to propose. It will take all Georgiana and Anne's considerable matchmaking talents to ensure that Elizabeth and Darcy are reunited in time to claim their happily ever after.

Pride and Prejudice is my all time favourite novel, so my first instinct was not to like this story, or see the point. However after a chat with the blog owner, she explained this fitted into a genre called ‘Fan Fiction’, i.e. spin offs of classic works whose characters are taken and sequels to the original are produced. 

This is a new concept to me, but with that explanation on board, I persisted and found ‘A Perfect Bride For Mr Darcy’ is in fact a regurgitation of the original story with virtually the same cast of characters. This version proved quite interesting, in that it shows the introspection and motivations of other characters - which Austen left for her readers to work out for themselves.  I suppose if you have read Pride & Prejudice and didn’t understand why the characters behaved in the way they did this book fills in some of the blanks.

As the novel went on, I found I really liked Ms Simonsens’s style and she does have a clever way with satyr and irony which I feel Ms Austen herself would have admired. The author did, I felt, take liberties with not only the characters, giving them direct quotes from the original and not all in the right places – but changed some of the plot by giving Jane Bennett a suitor other than Mr Bingley, giving more prominent parts to Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh and we also see events through the eyes of Mr Darcy. However for those, like me, who always felt Mary Bennett was sidelined, the author does provide a happy result for her.

The fact Elizabeth and Darcy were destined to be together and will mange that in any variation of the theme, will not come as a surprise, however the culmination of their misunderstood love is not as exciting nor as satisfying as the original.

I did enjoy Ms Simonsen comments on the political situation at the time, which helped give a view of what is happening outside the drawing rooms of the main characters – an omission Jane Austen is famous for.

My main criticism of this version of Miss Austen’s classic, is the fact the author has introduced a sexual element.  Not only is Lydia still a virgin after three weeks in a boarding house with Wickham, a detail of which I didn’t see the point as she still insists on marrying him, but Darcy, in his pursuit of Elizabeth, has explicit sexual fantasies about her.  I realise I must be old fashioned where my romances are concerned, but Austen was the queen of sexual tension and she kept the bedroom door firmly shut!

I would very much like to read a story Ms Simonsen has composed herself, for she is an accomplished and skillful writer whom I feel could achieve more than the regurgitation of a story that didn’t need any embellishment.  However for ‘Fan Fiction Enthusiasts’, ‘A Perfect Bride For Mr Darcy,’ would be a good addition to their reading list.

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