Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview


Book Description:
Did you know that Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?!

In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin…

Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?

I really enjoyed this Pride and Prejudice variation.  Having read tons of P&P fanfics, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the genre, and this was a most pleasant addition!  Anyone familiar with Austen's original would probably feel less than enthusiastic at the idea of reading a "what if" about Caroline Bingley of all people, but this works!  Caroline is an insufferable snob with aspirations to becoming Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy.  But, as we all know and can appreciate, Elizabeth Bennet won that coveted title.  This book opens with Caroline boo-hooing on Elizabeth and Darcy's wedding day alone upstairs while the wedding reception is taking place below.  In a Scarlett O'Hara/Rhett Butler moment, Caroline is surprised to find she is not alone after all.  Mr. Darcy's American cousin happens to have been in the room with her, though unnoticed.  He makes his presence known, and after the usual, "Sir, you are no gentleman!" moment, he promises to keep Caroline's guilty secret and leaves her to her renewed tears.

After that, Caroline seems to run into this American Mr. Darcy over and over again, much to her chagrin.  Some very funny plot twists ensue, blundering around the English countryside, a Nottingham Goose Fair and a reunion of many of P&P's beloved and not so beloved characters (thankfully, Mr. Hurst is now deceased, leaving Louisa, Caroline's sister, a merry widow.)  Due to some wagging tongues and the need to save face, Caroline and Robert Darcy must pretend they are engaged to be married.  As much as Caroline finds the turn of events undesirable, the idea begins to grow on her.  Little does she know that her Mr. Darcy has always fancied the idea, but is afraid she will turn him down if he proposes for real.  You can guess the outcome, and it is amusing getting there.  In addition, Caroline must deal with some hard truths about herself and society and finally is able to face up to her past faults and changes for the better.  I rather liked her!

The author is true to the many Austen characters from P&P, particularly Mrs. Bennett and Lydia.  It was fun to see many of my favorites and it was like visiting with old friends, though Lizzy and Fitzwilliam Darcy were facing some melancholy moments for most of the time which deepened the storyline.  Charles and Jane were just as you'd expect and I laughed at Col. Fitzwilliam and his proposal to Caroline, for I've already read many P&P fanfics online involving Caroline and Richard Col. Fitz as a couple!  I was surprised to find I really wound up liking Caroline here, and I was rooting for her and hoped she'd find love in all the wrong places!  Robert Darcy is an intriguing man from Boston, who has a Corinthian reputation about London, he's full of surprises!  If it's love at first sight for him upon meeting Caroline, he keeps his cards close to his vest.  She has no clue to his real feelings, though it's apparent to the reader. I had to scratch my head a few times at Caroline's dimness when it concerned this man of mystery who was so obviously fond of her.  Even so, I enjoyed their banter together and their country adventures on the road from Hertfordshire to Derbyshire, though there were some slow moving moments where the book dragged and I wanted Caroline to get on with it and open her eyes to what was right in front of her - Robert Darcy!  Finally, she gets the point by the end, though it took her long enough and I was biting my nails thinking it was too late!

I really enjoyed this sequel to P&P. Funny, and I was surprisingly entertained and became a sympathetic fan of Caroline.  Some nods to the original with a few parallels in the plot, it even includes an obligatory wet Mr. Darcy pond scene inspired from the 1995 movie no doubt!  I'm sure any fan of Pride and Prejudice will appreciate this well written and witty homage to the beloved classic, and it will make them a fan of Caroline as well, viewing her in a whole new different light! Highly recommend!

4/5

7 comments:

Laura's Reviews said...

I loved this novel also!! Great review. I also really enjoyed how it made Caroline Bingley into a rather likeable character. The follow-up novel, The Darcy Cousins, is good also.

Joanne said...

I agree, this one was well done and I enjoyed the unique perspective of Caroline Bingley.

Perhaps one day, Julie, when you have time (ha ha) you could put together a post about your top favs of Austen-inspired fanfic. I believe there is another Austen challenge going around book blogs, and I'd be interested in seeing which ones you think are the best of the best.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Laura, thanks, I have The Darcy Cousins on my TBR list, but not too far down. So much of the P&P fanfic stuff that I see published these days is such utter trash (and full of sex, sex, sex) I was happy to read this story which I felt was well written, funny and true to Austen's characters, though I do believe the author had the 1995 A&E series in mind, more than the actual book! But, who cares? Whatever her inspiration it made me a fan of Caroline - I even would like to read about some sort of sequel for Lydia and Louisa! Ha-ha!

Joanne, that's a good idea, I will post of what I think is the best of the best, though the very best is not even officially published, it's online only and FREE! Some particularly good books that are now published I originally read online like Pamela Aiden and Abigail Reynolds. I do have a sentimental penchant for Linda Berdoll's first book, Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife (but not it's sequel) for it was the first "spicy" P&P fanfic I'd ever read and I ate it up like candy! There are tons of good - and bad P&P fanfics out there, and I must admit, I shudder when I see people rave about some of the travesties that are now published, hailing them as great books when they are nothing more than smutty sequels to the 2005 movie - uggh - don't get me started...

Laurel Ann said...

Wonderful review of an equally charming book. I think it a miracle that Monica Fairview could transform Caroline into a likable character. I hope you have a chance to read her next novel The Darcy Cousins. Georgiana Darcy gets her own story and it is great fun.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

Laurel Ann, I'm looking forward to reading the next book as well, she's an author I'll now keep my eye on, I wonder if she'll write about any other Austen books too!

suzan said...

I really enjoyed the book also. I loved your review it was so concise. I didn't realize there is a follow-up book. wow, I'll have to look for that. Another to be read. I think I'm up to 100 already but I'll have to add this high up on the list. I agree wholeheartedly about the smutty, sexy, etc. no plot stories. It's a relief to find others and other novels that are worth the price of the book and the time to read it.

Julie at Outlandish Dreaming said...

suzan, thanks for your thoughts and yes I know what you mean about being up to 100! I think my TBR list is hovering close to 300 now! Yikes!

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