The Other Mr. Darcy is a new Pride and Prejudice sequel with a unique premise. Spotlight Caroline Bingley, a minor character who we all loved to hate in the original novel, and somehow make her into a likable heroine. Impossible you say! And so it would seem. Add into the mix Robert Darcy, the unconventional American cousin of Mr. Darcy, and you have an intriguing concept that could challenge the most accomplished writer. Let’s hope author Monica Fairview’s fairy godmother mojo is stronger than Caroline’s predilection to snark.
After attending the marriage of Fitzwilliam Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet, the distraught Caroline Bingley uncharacteristically breaks down. Unbeknownst to her, she has a witness to her emotional outburst, Robert Darcy, Mr. Darcy’s American cousin. Shocked and embarrassed to be seen in such a state, their first meeting gets off to a very bad start. When they meet again a year later, Caroline is horrified to see him. Will he keep her secret, or use it against her? As they travel together from Hertfordshire to Derbyshire, complications delay their journey in Nottingham and their party takes refuge at a local estate. While there, Caroline will receive two surprising marriage proposals. One from Colonel Fitzwilliam who she suspects is motivated by her dowry, and the second by the last man in the world she would be prevailed upon to marry, Robert Darcy. To save her honor, he has gallantly stepped forward offering a fake proposal to quell rumors of her engagement to the wealthy and distinguished Sir Cecil Rynes, the one man she truly aspires to marry. Dumbfounded and numb with shock, the proper Caroline has no choice but to temporarily play along with the scheme to save her own reputation. Also included in the ensemble are many familiar characters from the original novel: The Bennets, the Bingleys, Louisa Hurst, Lydia Wickham, and of course Mr. and Mrs. Darcy, all ready to offer help or hindrance to the couple.
Cleverly crafted and humorously engaging, The Other Mr. Darcy will delight Austen fans as they travel with Caroline Bingley on a journey of self-discovery to Pemberley, and her heart. Monica Fairview is a skilled storyteller, creatively continuing Jane Austen’s characters, presenting a captivating but un-haughty version of the iconic Mr. Darcy in his American cousin Robert Darcy, and a Caroline Bingley who clings to her structured propriety sparking brisk repartees between them. Surprisingly, this Caroline has evolved beyond that snobby and gossipy “mean girl” that we remember in the original. I did not object to her change in attitude, but I think it would have been a tad more interesting if Caroline was that “mean girl” at the beginning, and grew away from it with new experiences. Despite this small quibble, I commend Monica Fairview for waving her magic wand and cleverly transforming Caroline Bingley into a human being worth knowing!
4 out of 5 Regency Stars
The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview
Sourcebooks, Landmark (2009)
Trade paperback (368) pages
Cover image courtesy of Sourcebooks Landmark © 2009; text Laurel Ann Nattress © 2009, Austenprose.com