Jane Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for Summer 2013

Summer is here — and it time to head to the beach or take that well-earned holiday and read great books!

Summer reads are always fun—and little light hearted and playful—and the Austenesque & Regency faire in the queue is so exciting that the Jane Austen Book Sleuth is thrilled to share what we will be reading and reviewing here on Austenprose in the coming months. Included are release dates and descriptions of the titles by the publisher to help you plan out your summer reading. Pre-order and enjoy! 

Austen-inspired Nonfiction 

Walking Jane Austen's London, by Louise Allen 2013Walking Jane Austen’s London, by Louise Allen (June 25) 

The London of Jane Austen’s world and imagination comes to life in this themed guidebook of nine walking tours from well-known landmarks to hidden treasures –each evoking the time and culture of Regency England which so influenced Austen’s wise perspective and astute insight in novels such as Pride and Prejudice. Extensively illustrated with full-color photographs and maps these walks will delight tourists and armchair travelers as they discover eighteenth-century chop houses, elegant squares, sinister prisons, bustling city streets and exclusive gentlemen’s clubs among innumerable other Austenesque delights.  

– During Jane Austen’s time, 1775 – 1817, London was a flourishing city with fine streets, fashionable squares and a thriving port which brought in good from around the globe. Much of this London still remains, the great buildings, elegant streets, parks, but much has changed. This tour allows the reader to take it all in, noting what Jane may have experienced while citing modern improvements such as street lighting and privies! 

ISBN: 978-0747812951
© 2013 Shire   Continue reading

Darcy’s Decision: Given Good Principles Volume 1, by Maria Grace

Darcy's Decision: Given Good Principles Volume 1, by Maria Grace (2011)From the desk of Jeffrey Ward

For 200 years, I suspect many enthralled readers of Pride and Prejudice have silently pondered the question “What would Darcy do?” Author Maria Grace endeavors to put her own spin on this with her debut prequel novella Darcy’s Decision, in her Given Good Principles trilogy.

Spanning a brief but significant moment in time, the main gist of the story deals with Darcy’s rival Mr. Wickham, his demands for a living, and his alleged compromising of Georgiana and how young Mr. Darcy finally deals with it.

It is six months following the death of his father and Fitzwilliam Darcy struggles with how to honorably and properly manage the vast holdings of Pemberley, care for his 15 year old rapidly-maturing teenage sister, and deal with the prickly problem of one Mr. Wickham –his boyhood friend who shows up to claim the curacy that was thought promised to him by Darcy’s father. A dinner at Pemberley with some cherished neighbors, the Bingleys, Georgiana, the newly-appointed curate John Bradley and Mr. Wickham reveals the complications Darcy is up against:  (Georgiana speaking of Wickham)

“You came to pay your respects?” Lackley dabbed his chin with his napkin. “No, he did not.” Everyone gasped, staring at Georgiana. “Stop it!” Rebecca hissed, reaching for Georgiana’s hand. “He was promised the living given to Mr. Bradley.” A hush fell over the table. Darcy’s pulse thudded in his temples as the blood drained from his face.

With admirable originality the author has created a morality drama with Biblical undertones stressing mercy, forgiveness, and what makes a man truly great. She showcases the familiar well-loved characters of Pride and Prejudice quite accurately: Darcy, Wickham, Richard Fitzwilliam, the Bingleys, Mrs. Reynolds, as well as introducing her own cast of loveable loyal neighbors and old family friends. Chief among these is John Bradley, the vital mentor to both Darcys – father and son. The wise old Clergyman counsels young Darcy and the dialogue is beautiful in its timeless truth:

“I am not like him.”Darcy grimaced and swallowed hard against the rising bile. “I lack his wisdom, his discernment.” But you were given good principles, the ones your father stood.” The wind whipped his coattails and scoured his face. “Are they enough?” “He found them so.” Bradley clapped his shoulder.

But as Darcy reads his father’s private journals, a shocking confession is uncovered which will test the young man’s mettle and may change forever his attitude towards his late father and young Darcy’s relationship with his immediate family.

No Elizabeth? Sorry, but I believe she makes her appearance in the author’s trilogy installment #2 – The Future Mrs. Darcy. Until then, the romantic interest in this tale features the obnoxious Caroline Bingley as she sets her cap at poor Fitzwilliam. The off-and-on banter between Darcy, Charles Bingley, and Richard Fitzwilliam regarding how and who they may find as wives is utterly charming and really sets the stage for #2 in the author’s trilogy.

At scarcely 120 pages, the author still manages to lavish her debut work with historical accuracy, helpful footnotes, and scintillating dialogues. The author’s unique voice is most apparent in her descriptions of facial expressions, posturing, gestures, and mannerisms. A scene where Wickham is bound up and is being interrogated by Darcy and his buddies is so vivid and comical that I was in raptures mentally visualizing the entire episode.

About the only minor criticism I can level against this work is the character of Georgiana who Jane Austen describes in chapters 44 and 45 of Pride and Prejudice as exceedingly shy and quiet. This author’s Georgiana, on the other hand, is quite the feisty outspoken teenage girl, but I suppose that can be excused off as the emotional frustration of no longer being a girl, but not quite a woman yet.

I found Darcy’s Decision richly entertaining with a very plausible variation on “what if?” If Darcy doesn’t wear the mantle of hero yet with you, dear readers, I predict he will once you finish this read. Next stop? The Future Mrs. Darcy, or course!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

Darcy’s Decision: Given Good Principles Volume 1, by Maria Grace
Good Principles Publishing (2011)
Trade paperback (154) pages
ISBN: 978-0615582771

© 2013 Jeffrey Ward, Austenprose

Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour, by Pamela Aidan – A Review

Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honor, by Pamela Aidan (2010)Guest review by Kimberly Denny-Ryder of Reflections of a Book Addict

Have you ever finished reading Pride and Prejudice and wondered how Darcy became so filled with pride and conceit?  Now, you might find your answer. Pamela Aidan, author of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy is back with Young Master Darcy, a novella focusing on Fitzwilliam Darcy’s youth.

Young Master Darcy introduces us to a thirteen year old Darcy returning to Pemberley for the holidays after his first semester at Eton.  Upon his return, his father calls him into his study to share with him the bad news that his mother’s health is failing and that in all probability she will not recover.  Mr. Darcy tells Fitzwilliam that he expects him to take the news as a gentleman of his stature should, and not let it affect his duties as “Master Darcy.”

Now, I must trust you with some distressing news-a blow, really-but you are a young man now, Fitzwilliam, and know what is expected of a gentleman in regard to misfortune.”

Darcy, distraught with grief, decides to take a morning ride out into the village of Lambton.  It is there that he meets a group of children his age practicing for a play they will be putting on in the town square the night before Christmas.  Darcy, anxious to escape the high expectations of his privileged life, decides to join them while lying about his true identity.  He finds great comfort in his new role as a commoner.  He begins leading a double life as common village boy by day and privileged gentleman by night.  With his cousin Richard (later known as Colonel Fitzwilliam) and family coming for the holidays he knows it’s not long until this double life is revealed.  Will he be able to perform in the Christmas play with no one knowing, or he will his parents discover where he’s been spending all of his time and punish him?

Aidan has possibly created a new Jane Austen fan fiction trend in starting to delve into who these characters where in their youth.  Just the idea of reading about Darcy, before his pride and arrogance took hold, was appealing to me. However, despite my original excitement, the novella did fall a little short.

The most confusing part was the weaving of Darcy’s two lives.  On one side you have Darcy just wanting to act like a typical thirteen year old boy.  He wants playmates and friends that are his age and accept him not for his money, but for his personality.  On the other side you have “Master Darcy” living a lavish life with much expected of him.  It was this side that was a bit hard to believe.  It’s difficult to imagine that a boy who has been living such a privileged life for thirteen years does not know how to request a bath to be drawn, or the proper way to announce his plans for the day, as well as acting shy in front of the servants.  I found all of these things to require a bit too much of a stretch of my imagination.

We know from Pride and Prejudice that Darcy learns the ways of being a gentleman from his parents.  In this novella however, it’s the staff that are teaching him.  They coach him on the proper way to request things, and at one point tell him that he should send his compliments to his mother.  The character of “gentleman” Darcy was just too bizarre for me to accept.

On a more positive note, the storyline of the book is its best attribute.  There is a quote in Pride and Prejudice that seems to be where certain aspects of the storyline are drawn from:

I was spoilt by my parents, who, though good themselves (my father, particularly, all that was benevolent and amiable), allowed, encouraged, almost taught me to be selfish and overbearing; to care for none beyond my own family circle; to think meanly of all the rest of the world; to wish at least to think meanly of their sense and worth compared with my own.

Darcy has multiple conversations with his mother where she stresses to him the importance of marrying someone of their own social class, as well as what will be expected of him and Georgiana as they mature.  This was very intriguing as we begin to see how Darcy became the man we are later introduced to in Pride and Prejudice.  Intriguingly, the ending of the novella seems to be the catalyst that cements Darcy’s ultimate future personality.

Pamela Aidan continues to excel at period details, characterization and language. Young Master Darcy is an interesting experiment in the exploration of our favorite Austen characters childhood. At 122 pages, it is short and sweet and I do encourage you to read it. It will be interesting to watch the world of Austen fan fiction to see if she has created a new trend in prequels.

3 out of 5 Regency Stars

Young Master Darcy: A Lesson in Honour, by Pamela Aidan
Wytherngate Press (2010)
Trade paperback (122) pages
ISBN: 978-0983103103

© 2007 – 2011 Kimberly Denny-Ryder, Austenprose

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, by Sara Angelini – A Review

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, by Sara Angelini (2009)Guest review by Christina B.

Many modern versions of Jane Austen’s works fail to hit the mark because the author forces a “rewrite” of the original, altogether forgetting that some scenarios and mores from the Regency era make no sense in the modern day world. Or worse yet, the author fails to deliver any character development – depending almost wholly on the expectation that the reader will be familiar with Miss Austen’s originals. Fortunately, author Sara Angelini’s The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy is invigorating, yet somewhat comforting, as we meet our old friends in an entirely new setting. Like Bridget Jones’ Diary, the popular 1996 novel by Helen Fielding, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy has flavorings of the original Pride and Prejudice: aloof, handsome, and rather stuffy Fitzwilliam Darcy from an ancient line of British aristocracy meets and goes toe to toe with fresh-faced, independent and spunky Elizabeth Bennet. And yes, there is still the great estate of Pemberley in England and a cast of familiar names. But beyond that, this story is refreshingly new, and stands quite on its own. 

As the title eludes, our Fitzwilliam Darcy is a judge and Elizabeth Bennet is the clever attorney who frequently appears before him in court. Following the usual P&P adaptation formula, an unintentional off-handed comment by Judge Darcy is over heard by Elizabeth that only adds to the manifest of other qualities she already detests about him. Do not expect all of the characters from the original novel in this modern re-imagining, nor are they used in the same capacity as in Austen’s work. Exhibit one: you will not find Darcy’s arch nemesis Mr. Wickham running off with his younger sister Georgiana.  Exhibits two and three: there are none of Lady Catherine’s high-handed antics, or even an unwelcome marriage proposal by Mr. Collins. However, there are fleeting “walk on” roles by some of the aforementioned characters but none are a driving force to the plot. I particularly enjoyed how Angelini has also cleverly enhanced Caroline Bingley’s roll as competition to Elizabeth, and confidant to Darcy. My eyebrows did wrinkle concerning some of the refurbished characterizations of Elizabeth’s best friend Louis Hurst, because in all honestly, I did not believe Jane Austen’s Louisa Hurst was ever intended to be a gay male. But I soon got over myself, and found this quirky reinterpretation to be a favorite;  a most-endearing character. I especially love how Angelini has given many of Austen’s famous lines to Lou, even channeling our beloved Mrs. & Mr. Bennet.  

A real-life attorney, Angelini has a very realistic grasp on the legalese. In addition, her understanding and interpretations of dynamic relationships and dialogue is descriptive and believable – although the f-bomb is frequently dropped. I often found myself laughing out loud and shaking my head at the plucky dialogue between Darcy and Elizabeth as well as some amusing antics. Be forewarned, however, the extremely graphic and passionate love scenes will leave you breathless. So delicious, they will leave you craving for more! 

I confess I have been a fan of this particular adaptation of Pride and Prejudice since Angelini first self-publication it in 2007. When I heard that Sourcebooks had picked it up, I was somewhat apprehensive regarding what possible cuts and changes might entail. But my fears were for naught as the edits and stronger back-story only proved to make it a more cohesive and realistic tale. Thankfully, none of my original favorite scenes were deleted and some new scenes were added as well. Nice! 

Although this novel was inspired by Jane Austen’s original and Angelini’s own admission of “Colin Firth’s smoldering haughtiness,” one need not have read Pride and Prejudice (or seen the BBC mini-series for that matter) to enjoy it. But if you are already a fan, then this telling will be an excessively diverting entertainment you won’t want to miss. In conclusion, my factual assertion as witness merits, The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy is 5 stars. 

5 out of 5 Regency Stars

The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy, by Sara Angelini
Sourcebooks Landmark (2009)
Trade paperback (338) pages
ISBN: 978-1402221101

Additional Reviews

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy, by Mary Street – A Review

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy, by Mary Street (2008)In Pride and Prejudice, we enter a distinctly feminine world as the story unfolds from the perspective of heroine Elizabeth Bennet and other female characters. Jane Austen does not presume to know the private thoughts of Mr. Darcy or any of her male characters, nor does she share them with us. This leaves the sequel writer open to the possibility of another take on one of the most popular stories in English literature. In The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy, author Mary Street explores an entirely male point of view by telling Darcy’s story with a strong first person voice. Even though this approach has been attempted by many other authors since Austen sequels began to multiply exponentially after the 1995 BBC/A&E mini-series Pride and Prejudice, (some successfully and others not so much), Street’s viewpoint, as seen through the eyes of Mr. Darcy favorably hits the mark. 

Being all curious about anything Darcy, I am always searching for the answers that have plagued me since girlhood. When did Mr. Darcy first find himself in-love with Miss Elizabeth? What was he doing when he left Hertfordshire and Rosings? What was he thinking after he was so soundly rejected? How did he find Lydia and Wickham? All compelling questions addressed and answered as we are privileged to enter Darcy’s innermost thoughts and meanderings, as well as his intimate relationships with his sister Georgiana, Colonel Fitzwilliam and the Bingley’s through this parallel story to Pride and Prejudice. Revealed too, are encounters we have only previously speculated upon from second hand accounts in Austen’s original novel, such as the rescue of Lydia in London, his skirmish with Lady Catherine de Bourgh following her visit to Elizabeth at Longbourn, as well as his final confession to Charles Bingley of his interference in his relationship with Jane Bennet. 

On second reading of this novel, I decided to read it alongside the original for comparison and contrast. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth’s accounting is repeatedly prejudiced against Darcy, therefore when he lays his heart out to the reader in Confession, it is quite remarkable. Darcy is a thinking man and here we see how his mind ticks; how he frequently dissects every conversation. I confess, often times I felt as if I was eavesdropping on the man’s very own private thoughts, foibles and all! Even though Darcy publicly admonishes others, “A lady’s imagination is very rapid; it jumps from admiration to love, from love to matrimony, in a moment.” I was in turn surprised to find how rapidly his imagination jumped. For example, upon receipt of a letter from his aunt Catherine relaying the news of a new Mrs. Collin’s, he automatically assumes Elizabeth is the new Mrs. Collins before even finishing the letter, throwing himself and his entire household into quite a stir. Still, Darcy came off very likable and more than once, I found myself smiling or laughing aloud at his inner musings. I like that Street reveals how Mr. Darcy learns to own his failings and shortfalls. It strenuously supports Austen in that it took Elizabeth’s ultimate set down to show him what he was – and how he needed to change to become a better man – a man worthy of Elizabeth. I was appreciative of this author’s use of briefly quoting Austen’s own words, especially when Darcy was recollecting particular exchanges; this seemed to successfully authenticate his own memories. 

Coming off the heels of the disappointing Darcy’s Passions, I was somewhat apprehensive about yet another re-telling of Darcy’s perspective. Surprisingly, The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy is quite good, bearing up well in comparison to other Darcy books such as Amanda Grange’s Mr. Darcy’s Diary. Originally published in 1999 in the UK, this re-issue by Berkley Books (Penguin) is a welcome addition to my growing collection of Darcy paraliterature. Thankfully, Mary Street believably answers some of my niggling questions about Mr. Darcy, leaving a charming impression. I liked it very much. 


4 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy, by Mary Street
Berkley Books, New York (2008)
Trade paperback (272) pages
ISBN: 978-0425219904

Additional reviews

The Sunday Salon Badge

Austen at Large: Vote for your Favorite Pride and Prejudice Bachelor

The bachelors of Pride and Prejudice

In thinking about Pride and Prejudice for the last couple of weeks, my mind has naturally wondered to the men in this novel, the single men particularly. As a young woman of 20, it is a subject that my mind often turns to. There are more young single men in this novel than any other that I can think of, and some of the best and worst. The men that jump to my mind as the bachelors of Pride and Prejudice are George Wickham, William Collins, Charles Bingley, Colonel Fitzwilliam, Fitzwilliam Darcy and the gang of militia officers that Lydia and Kitty run after. All these men offer the girls in the novel different things. Some offer love, some security, and the very best ones offer both. These 5 different men, I think, show a lot about relationships.

Rupert Friend as George Wickham, Pride & Prejudice (2005)Lt. George Wickham (son of Mr. Darcy’s stewart) is the dashing young man who flatters Elizabeth’s vanity by choosing to pay her attention. Elizabeth is not only flattered by him but she is also manipulated into believing his back story of his life and his history with Darcy. Wickham is dashing, smart and clever yet he has no fortune and does not have a steady work history (though he blames others for this). Wickham is probably the best looking bachelor and uses this to his advantage in the women that he tries to win. He is definitely a player as well in the novel, we see him or hear about him with many women including Georgiana, Elizabeth, Miss King and Lydia. This is not a very good track record for someone yet he still manages to get girls. Wickham is the dashing young officer that every girl dreams of and every mother loves until they find out his true colors.

David Bamber as Rev. Mr. Colins, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Rev. Mr. William Collins (Rector of Hunsford in Kent) thinks he is a big fish in a little pond. He comes to Longbourn for the purpose of choosing a wife. He is not a romantic though he offers his wife security. When he finds out that Jane is almost off the market he simply moves down the line to Lizzy, thus showing just how unromantic he is. (I have always wondered if Bingley was not in the picture if Jane would have married Collins or if Mrs. Bennet would have at least tried to get them together?). Mr. Collins is a buffoon to say the very least of his character. I think he is more in love with Lady Catherine than he is with Charlotte. In my class of 20 year old college students it was of course brought up that there was a “young olive branch” coming to the Collins family. And as my teacher point out, “there is only one way to get an olive branch!”. Life with Mr. Collins might not be grand but if a woman wanted to get out of her parents house it might he might seem like a good catch.

Simon Woods as Charles Bingley, Pride & Prejudice (2005)Mr. Charles Bingley (age 22, heir to £100,000)  is an interesting bachelor because he is so important yet we hear so little of him except through other people. After all he is introduced in the first page of the novel yet we rarely get a conversation with Bingley and his love Jane. I have always wondered what they were talking about at all those dinner parties and dances. Bingley is the “nice guy” though he is a little too easily lead by others I feel like. Bingley is wonderful guy who is rich and yet willing to love Jane and see past her family flaws and her lack of money. Bingley also stays in love with Jane when he is in London and separated. He is a wonderful bachelor but is perhaps there is still something lacking in Bingley, a strong spirit or a passion perhaps. It is hard to pinpoint though because he just seems so nice and caring.

Anthony Calf as Colonel Fitzwilliam, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Colonel Fitzwilliam (younger son of an Earl & cousin of Mr. Darcy) is one of my favorite bachelors. He is charming, an officer (so he is in a red coat) and gentlemanly. He makes good conversation and comes from a good family. Colonel Fitswilliams only down fall is that he is a second son so that he cannot marry merely for love but also for money. I have always thought that he is one of my favorite guys in the novel just because of the openness he has with Elizabeth and how conversational and charming he is. He does not always bring good news to be sure, but he can openly talk with her which I think is important. Though he has good family connections and visits Rosing it does not seem to taint his understanding of the world or his pride or vanity. He is a complete gentleman, if only he was a first son! Plus he is in a red coat, and those look soo good!

David Rintoul as Fitzwilliam Darcy, Pride and Prejudice (1980)Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy (age 28, of Pemberley in Derbyshire with £10,000 a year) is the hero of the novel and what a man he is! He is smart, clever yet perhaps a little shy when it comes to meeting new people. He is proud but comes from a good family and has a good upbringing. He is a loving brother and his servants speak very highly of him. He is also giving and forgiving which is very important especially with Elizabeth. One of my favorite aspects of Darcy is that he changes in the end and sees how he was wrong before. At the beginning of the novel he is proud and arrogant but by the end he is more understanding and has changed for the better. Mr. Darcy is also able to keep up with Elizabeth in their banter back and forth with not only shows his wit but also his spirit though it seems a little suppressed she draws it out of him. Mr. Darcy as the hero of the novel is an amazing bachelor and we kind of wonder why he has not married before now (it is of course because he has not met Elizabeth yet!)

David Bark-Jones as Lt. Denny, Pride and Prejudice (1995)Colonel Forster & Co (the _shire Militia) The officers of the militia are Kitty and Lydia’s dream bachelors and we can see why. They are young, fun and wear dashing red coats. Yet they lack the maturity is similar to the girls that are chasing them. If I had to equate them to guys today I would say that they were frat boys who were interested in having a good time but who were not interested in settling down.

So gentle readers, who would you vote for? I think I might have to go for Colonel Fitzwilliam myself because I love red coats and yet I would want someone with a little more substance and conversation than just a normal officer. Bingley is too nice for me and though Darcy is wonderful, I would be happy to settle for his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam.

Until Next week,

Virginia Claire

Virginia Claire, our Austen at Large roving reporter is a college student studying English literature and history who just returned from her time studying abroad in Bath England and working as an intern at the Jane Austen Centre. She is the Regional Coordinator of JASNA North Carolina and a lifelong Janeite. She will be sharing her thoughts on all things Austen this semester and remembering her travels in Austenland.

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke – A Review

Cover of The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O'Rourke (2008) Was fictional hero Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice based on a real person who author Jane Austen met and fell in love with in 1810? In this reissue of her 2006 novel, author Sally Smith O’Rourke cleverly re-engages our fascination with Austen’s ultimate romantic hero Mr. Darcy and presents readers with a contemporary heroine pursuing the question if Darcy’s character was inspired by Austen’s personal experience?

New York City artist Eliza Knight is a 21st-century Austen fan who discovers two old letters tucked behind the mirror of her new antique vanity table addressed to “Dearest Jane” from F. Darcy, and the second unopened letter to Fitzwilliam Darcy, Chawton Great House. Puzzled, Eliza knows that Mr. Darcy is Jane Austen’s fictional creation and not a real person, or is he? Determined to find out if the letters are real or a crafty hoax, she presents them to an Austen scholar and Head of the Rare Document Department at the New York Public Library who skeptically examines them. When the scientific testing and hand writing analysis prove they are authentic, Eliza is shocked. In addition, she learns that another similar letter has recently surfaced leading her to its owner, a wealthy horse breeder in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Determined to meet him, she travels to his estate Pemberley Farms to learn about his interest in Jane Austen and why he shares Fitzwilliam Darcy’s name. When Eliza reveals to him that she has discovered additional letters similar to his, he is anxious to know at any price the content of the sealed letter and is very keen to purchase them. When she refuses to sell the two hundred year old letters, his intense reaction and admission that the message in the unopened letter was meant for him is unbelievable. Eliza knows that the notion is absurd, until he begins to tell her the entire amazing story.

This is not your typical Jane Austen sequel; in fact, it is not a sequel at all; falling into a uniquely new Austen book category – Austen paranormal mystery romance! To say more would spoil the multi-dimensional plot, but just imagine a blending of a Jane Austen biography, a contemporary romance novel and the movie Somewhere in Time and you might begin to understand my meaning. This is a ‘what if’ story that asks the reader to imagine another possibility of how Jane Austen was inspired to create her most alluring and romantic hero, Mr. Darcy. Austen purist will have to turn a blind eye to the historical and biographical flubs, (and there are more than a few), and disarm the ‘breach of etiquette’ alarm in their heads in order to just let go and enjoy the ride. Romance readers will take pleasure in Ms. O’Rourke’s breezy modern style which at times was dryly witty and at others hampered by contrite clichés. The possibility that Fitzwilliam Darcy was actually a real person is an intriguing notion that many Austen scholars have researched and enthusiasts have speculated upon for years. I commend her creativity in trying to fictionally answer the riddle but felt that the story could have been more convincing if she had taken her audience and herself more seriously. None-the-less, The Man Who Loved Jane Austen is a pure bit of escapist muslin that will in turns miff and amuse you.

3.5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, by Sally Smith O’Rourke
Mass market paperback (303) pages
Kensington Publishing Corp, New York (2009)
ISBN: 978-0758210388

© 2009, Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose