In the modern era, more than 200 years since Jane Austen’s time, there is still a strong and robust following and appreciation of her works. Most notably, there is a nod to her forward-thinking views about women and how they should behave and act, which were at odds with the conventional wisdom of the time. What if we stood this entire paradigm on its head and acted as though these conventions were true? What would men of this era have to say about women, and more importantly how would they rationalize these opinions? We must look no further than Mr. Darcy’s Guide to Courtship by Emily Brand, which offers up a very tongue-in-cheek view on this very subject.
Written from the point of view of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy himself, Mr. Darcy’s Guide to Courtship is a work loosely based on Regency-era advice publications, which instructed readers on how to behave and the socially acceptable guidelines to which men and women should adhere. Of course, it speaks volumes on how men perceived women in that time period, and it still remains relevant today as we see the implications of these points of view on how men act in the present day. Additionally, the reader is treated to sections written by other characters, such as Mr. Collins and Wickham, as well as Darcy’s own personal correspondence with other characters.
First off, this book is downright hysterical. Of course, I kind of saw this coming, as the back cover of the book states, “For two hundred years, the mere mention of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy has caused hearts to flutter and bosoms to heave. The feeling has not been reciprocal.” I was already laughing at that, and thus knew I was in for a fun time. I especially enjoyed a piece in the work entitled “Complementing With Delicacy, W. Collins” which, according to Darcy, is a list of “ludicrous examples” of complements put forth by Mr. Collins. The one that really got me was “Your noble forehead is like a rock of alabaster.” Swoon! Unfortunately, Collins ended up crossing that one out, but he leaves in many other excellent examples of how to give the most hysterical compliments ever. I also enjoyed Darcy’s “Dear Abby” type section, where other literary characters wrote to him for advice. The things that Darcy would come up with are both exactly what I imagine he would say; just as condescending as ever. Emily Brand does a wonderful job of taking the spirit of Darcy’s character and infusing it into her own pen, as her words seem to flow effortlessly out of his consciousness. This is definitely a fun and quick read that will keep you laughing for a while. I heartily recommend it.
5 out of 5 Regency Stars
Mr. Darcy’s Guide to Courtship: The Secrets of Seduction from Jane Austen’s Most Eligible Bachelor, by Fitzwilliam Darcy & Emily Brand
Old House (2013)
Trade paperback (192) pages
Cover image courtesy Old House © 2013; text Kimberly Denny-Ryder © 2013, Austenprose.com