A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen – A Review

Guest review by Christina Boyd

A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen is a collection of three-holiday novellas by Sourcebooks’ best-selling authors Amanda Grange and Sharon Lathan, and debut author Carolyn Eberhart. Reading and reviewing a Christmas book when pumpkins, witches, and goblins still abound seems out of synch. Alas, with a sigh, I have mustered all of my supercilious, Ebenezer Scrooge-like sympathies and yielded to pre-Christmas, pre-Halloween! undertaking.

In Sharon Lathan’s A Darcy Christmas (same as the title of this book) nine chapters chronicle the highlights of some twenty-nine years of Darcy family Christmas’ including the joyous first Christmas when Darcy gifts Elizabeth with a key to a locked cabinet holding a collection of sexually instructive books, to a grief stricken Christmas after the death of Elizabeth’s beloved father, Mr. Bennet. Lathan fans will readily recognize her vivid characters from her “Two Shall Become One” series and delight in their saccharine-sweet sentimentality. Albeit Lathan’s style is not Austenesque, and the dialogue lacks Regency aplomb (i.e. Darcy discussing pregnancy in mixed company) she should get points for her steadiness and commitment to her characters. What it lacks in actual plot, Lathan’s Darcy and Elizabeth, as in her previous novels, make up for in their undying love, unyielding libidos and excessive banter of the mundane. Bah humbug, indeed.

What does one get the man who has everything? In Amanda Grange’s Christmas Present, it becomes quite apparent that Mr. Darcy of Pemberley is in want of an heir, and his wife, Elizabeth is poised to oblige. This charming tale takes the Darcy’s to visit with Charles & Jane Bingley and their newborn son at their new estate, Lowlands Park in Nottinghamshire. However, through various contrivances of Mother Nature and Mother Bennet, the Bingley’s small family party has expanded to a house full of colorful characters, including Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, Caroline Bingley and the Bennet family. Much like in Grange’s previous novels, her characters “are clever, well-informed people, with a great deal of conversation” and the story is delightful. But also as in many of her previous works, this novella ends entirely too quickly. Yes, as expected Elizabeth delivers Mr. Darcy a Christmas present, but surprisingly, the author decidedly wraps it up shortly after the naming of the child. Whether you prescribe to the expression, “less is more,” you will have to judge for yourself.

Carolyn Eberhart’s break-out contribution, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol is the marrying of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol and Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. The story opens on Christmas Eve with a morose Mr. Darcy, stewing over his lot; consequences of his damnable pride that held him from renewing his addresses to Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy is visited by a ghostly apparition in the image of his deceased father warning him of his impending future rife with bitter regrets and loneliness… if he fails to amend his life’s missed opportunities. He is warned that he will be visited “by Three Spirits all of whom will appear familiar” in hopes of helping him to escape such a gloomy fate. As in Dickens’ classic, after all the Past, Present and Future Spirits have all shown him poignant moments of his life and Darcy is shown the course he must take, Darcy declares “… all three have striven to show me what I already knew within me.” Determinedly, he then heads off to Hertfordshire to declare himself again to Elizabeth. Although Eberhart’s breakout novella is predictable by reasonable deduction to anyone familiar with the Dickens and Austen originals, Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Carol is a surprising gem in this collection.

Despite endeavours to conquer these erstwhile Scrooge-like sensations, no doubt can be lost regarding my disappointed hopes for this holiday tribute to Jane Austen. Overall I was frustrated that the stories were overly predictable and rather tiresome. To be frank, having read Sharon Lathan’s previous writing, I was not expecting much from A Darcy Christmas and was not wholly surprised by the overlong passages of inane details. But as I am a self-proclaimed, devoted fangirl of Amanda Grange’s previous works, I regret that Christmas Present left me indifferent after such a weak conclusion. However, the debut story from Carolyn Eberhart is a lighthearted and in the spirit of the season.

I am glad for the opportunity to have read this collection of short stories in A Darcy Christmas, but I am confident that once was plenty. Marketed and packaged perfectly for our unsuspecting loved ones, who will undoubtedly rejoice in their triumph of having found “the perfect” gift for us Jane Austen aficionados, I can only hope that should you discover A Darcy Christmas in your stocking, you will remember the timeless words of Tiny Tim, “God bless Us!  Every One!” and add to that a bit from Miss Bingley, “It was kindly meant.

2 out of 5 Regency Stars

A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen, by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan and Carolyn Eberhart
Sourcebooks (2010)
Trade paperback (304) pages
ISBN: 978-1402243394

© 2007 – 2010 Christina Boyd, Austenprose

14 thoughts on “A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen – A Review

  1. Thanks for the warning. I enjoy some of the Austen variations, but I don’t like spending time or money on ones that are not worth the investment. Too far from JA and I am not happy.

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  2. I’m sad you didn’t like this collection. I really like Lathan’s books, but the grown up in me wanted to see a continuation of their lives together. It does seem that Austen fans either really love these continuation stories, or they do not. Here I thought I was such a purist, especially since I’m a literature teacher, but in my leisure time they are just what I want to read! :) Honestly, I haven’t liked Grange’s diary stories that much, but I think I still might give this collection a try. You express why you didn’t care for this so well though, so I have to admit to being a bit nervous!

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    • Becky, Oh I do love a good continuation of Jane Austen stories, what ifs, etc etc etc… Just not so much love for this particular book. If you should read this book, I would be most interested to hear back from you as to your impressions.

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  3. including the joyous first Christmas when Darcy gifts Elizabeth with a key to a locked cabinet holding a collection of sexually instructive books

    Because he does that.

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  4. Hi…not new here just never commented before…love to come and read the Reviews, thanks!

    a locked cabinet holding a collection of sexually instructive books???

    mmh…not my cup of tea…thanks for the warning…
    I’m such a wimp =) …no zombies, mommies, vampires or rated R….

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    • re: Sharon Lathan’s story, A Darcy Christmas, I just want to clarify that there isn’t anything rated R in this novel… just suggestions to incidents in her previous rated R novels. That is why I say that “Lathan fans will readily recognize her vivid characters” and I should have added “and scenarios” from her previous books. Although this story doesn’t have pulsing or throbbing passages, her writing style remains the same.

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  5. I want to thank you for the warning! I’m funny about messing around with my classics . . . if it doesn’t feel like the direction of the original author, I’m just not interested . . . I even found your blog in the first place during the Pride and Prejudice Without Zombies, Reclaiming the Classics event . . . go figure . . .

    Thank you so much for stopping by, and your sweet words. I am so very touched!

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  6. I’m sorry to hear this was a disappointing addition to our world of Austen, but really enjoyed this review! And the “sexually instructive books” behind a locked cabinet definitely stopped me in my tracks. Say what?!

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  7. I just received this one in the mail a few days ago…I am always skeptical of Austen themed books…sadly looks like this one is one that is deserving of that skepticism…thanks for the review!

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  8. I am in complete accord with your review! I finished this one yesterday and was left just feeling kind of “meh” about it. I’d like to see more from Carolyn Eberhart as I thought her story was pretty clever.

    Amanda Grange’s contribution left me indifferent. I’ve really enjoyed her “diary” books of Austen’s menfolk and found this to be a little disappointing.

    I slogged through Sharon Lathan’s story and really have nothing more to say about it except for the fact that I am appalled by her re-characterizations of Elizabeth and Darcy from the book of hers that I read and this story was no different.

    Still though, I was glad to see a book put out with Austenesque holiday tales even if the final production was somewhat lacking.

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  9. Pingback: #81 A Review of A Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan, and Carolyn Eberhart « Reflections of a Book Addict

  10. Pingback: Jane Austen-inspired Holiday Stories « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

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