Mr. Darcy’s Diary (Audiobook), by Maya Slater, read by David Rintoul – A Review

The Pride Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge (2013)This is my eighth selection for The Pride and Prejudice Bicentenary Challenge 2013, our year-long event honoring Jane Austen’s second published novel. Please follow the link above to read all the details of this reading and viewing challenge. Sign up’s are now closed for new participants, but you can join us in reading all the great reviews and comments until December 31, 2013.

My Review:

Ever wonder if a book you read several years ago and loved still stacks up? I did and was tempted to revisit one of my favorite Pride and Prejudice sequels, Mr. Darcy’s Diary, in audiobook for my summer listening. Read by Mr. Darcy himself—well not quite—but close, the narrator is British actor David Rintoul who portrayed Mr. Darcy in the 1980 BBC mini-series of Pride and Prejudice. After a second pass, “my affections and wishes are unchanged” and I am incorporating my original review (slightly amended) and finishing with my impression of this audio version.

If Jane Austen thought that her novel Pride and Prejudice was too light, bright, and sparkling and wanted shade, then author Maya Slater has made up for any deficit by crossing over to the “dark side” in writing her re-telling of Austen’s classic tale of misunderstandings and reconciliation. Not only are we privy to Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy’s most intimate and revealing secrets, we see the story of Pride and Prejudice told wholly from the male perspective, and gentle readers, be prepared. It’s a man’s world in Regency England, and dare I say, Fitzy is no saint! Continue reading

New Jane Austen Short Story Anthology Announced Today

Hot off the presses is an announcement today in Publishers Weekly of a new Jane Austen short story anthology to be published by Random House in 2011. The collection will include approximately twenty stories inspired by Jane Austen, literature’s witty muse of the modern novel and astute observer of human nature and the heart.

Readers familiar with Austen inspired paraliterature will recognize many popular authors among the list of those contributing and a few surprises from best selling authors who greatly admire Austen’s works. Contributing to the line-up are best selling authors Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club), Stephanie Barron (A Jane Austen Mystery Series), Adriana Trigiani (Brava, Valentine), Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation Series) and the husband and wife writing team of Frank Delaney (Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show) and Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances). Approximately twenty Austenesque authors and others from related genres have already committed to the project including:

Pamela Aidan (Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman Trilogy)

Elizabeth Aston (Mr. Darcy’s Daughters, & Writing Jane Austen)

Stephanie Barron (A Jane Austen Mystery Series, & The White Garden)

Carrie Bebris (Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mysteries Series)

Diana Birchall (Mrs. Darcy’s Dilemma, & Mrs. Elton in America)

Frank Delaney (Shannon, Tipperary, & Venetia Kelly’s Traveling Show)

Monica Fairview (The Darcy Cousins, & The Other Mr. Darcy)

Karen Joy Fowler (Jane Austen Book Club, & Wits End)

Amanda Grange (Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, & Mr. Darcy’s Diary)

Syrie James (The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen, & The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte)

Diane Meier (The Season of Second Chances)

Janet Mullany (Bespelling Jane Austen, & Rules of Gentility)

Jane Odiwe (Lydia Bennet’s Story, & Willoughby’s Return)

Beth Pattillo (Jane Austen Ruined My Life, & Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart)

Alexandra Potter (Me & Mr. Darcy, & The Two Lives of Miss Charlotte Merryweather: A Novel)

Jane Rubino and Caitlen Rubino Bradway (Lady Vernon & Her Daughter)

Myretta Robens (Pemberley.com , Just Say Yes, & Once Upon a Sofa)

Maya Slater (The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy)

Margaret C. Sullivan (AustenBlog.com, & The Jane Austen Handbook)

Adriana Trigiani (Brava Valentine, Very Valentine, & Lucia, Lucia)

Laurie Viera Rigler (Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict, & Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict)

Lauren Willig (The Pink Carnation Series)

In addition, a short story contest hosted by the venerable The Republic of Pemberley website will be held to fill one slot in the anthology for a new voice in Austenesque fiction. Further details on submission and manuscript deadlines will be posted here and at Pemberley.com.

And if you were wondering how I know so much about the project, I have been secretly working on it for months and will be the editor. I’m the luckiest Janeite in the world!

Cheers, Laurel Ann

© 2007-2010 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, A Novel by Maya Slater – A Review

The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy (2009)If Jane Austen thought that her novel Pride and Prejudice was too light, bright, and sparkling and wanted shade, then author Maya Slater has made up for any deficit by crossing over to the ‘dark side’ in writing her re-telling of the story entitled The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy. Not only are we privy to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s most intimate and revealing secrets, we see the story of Pride and Prejudice told wholly from the male perspective, and gentle readers, be prepared. It’s a man’s world in Regency England, and dare I say, Fitzy is no saint. 

And so it was with a heavy heart that I cracked open yet another Darcy discourse ready to rip it to shreds like Lydia Bennet’s famous bonnet. The first few entries of the diary were pleasant enough. The language and style was respectful to Austen’s, the story line consistent with Darcy’s view, and the characters well thought out. A good beginning. My interest builds as I realize that I am reliving Pride and Prejudice from a new perspective, and told by an author who understands the novel, is well researched in Regency history and can turn a phrase quite neatly. Better and better. Whoa! Darcy has just admired a housemaid’s ‘pleasing embonpoint’, removed her starched white apron and tumbled her on his bed! The hairs on the back of my neck stand at attention. This is not the Darcy that we know from Elizabeth Bennet’s perspective, and the author has just made her point. 

Uncertain if I could get past this bit, I trudge on. We follow Darcy to London with his faithful valet Peebles in tow. Their Jeeves and Wooster relationship is amusing. I smile. Darcy unknowingly crumples up his leather gloves in a coat pocket, scuffs his boots, and wants to wear the wrong clothes for the wrong occasion. It is of little consequence to this wealthy and overly confident man, but Peebles is beside himself. I laugh. In addition to Charles Bingley, we are introduced to Darcy’s friend, George Byron. Yes, the poet and notorious, mad, bad, and dangerous to know Byron. He lives up to his reputation and influences Darcy into dubious deeds that most Regency men of his position in society amuse themselves with like cards, drunken debacles, and escapades with women. At this point we are experiencing Darcy from a totally male point-of-view, but the transition into events that Austen would never have included in her heroine Elizabeth Bennet’s female world, are more acceptable because this author’s skill at making Darcy’s diary so believable and amusing is effortless. By the midway point in the diary, it has become a page turner, and I am totally captivated. 

So how did author Maya Slater woo a Janeite who openly admits contempt for renovators who sex up or steal Austen’s good name? She actually did not have to. Once I abandoned my expectations of reading another sequel bent on ripping off Jane Austen’s stories or characters, I realized that this was not Elizabeth Bennet’s Pride and Prejudice, but Mr. Darcy’s, and Maya Slater was not renovating Jane or sexing up Lizzy but telling a man’s story. It made me laugh-out-loud repeatedly and revel in a love story that I read as freshly and intensely as the first time this writer experienced the original many years ago. That, gentle Austen readers, is quite an achievement. Even Mr. Darcy might consider Maya Slater worthy of inclusion in the “half a dozen women in the whole range of (his) acquaintance that are truly accomplished.”

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy, A Novel by Maya Slater
W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., New York (2009)
Trade paperback, (320) pages
ISBN: 978-0393336368 

Please join us on Wednesday for interview of author Maya Slater, as she discusses her inspiration Jane Austen, and her  novel The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy.

(Previously published in the UK in 2007 as Mr. Darcy’s Diary)

Austen Book Sleuth: New Books in the Queue for June

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler (2009)The Jane Austen book sleuth is happy to inform Janeites that many Austen inspired books are heading our way in June, so keep your eyes open for these new titles.

Fiction (prequels, sequels, retellings, variations, or Regency inspired)

Rude Awakenings of a Jane Austen Addict, by Laurie Viera Rigler

Twenty two days and counting to the highly anticipated parallel story of author Laurie Viera Rigler’s best selling Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict. This time around it is Regency era Jane Mansfield who is transported into the body of 21stcentury Courtney Stone, and confronted head on with the modern world, resplendent with iPods, television and modern mores! (Publisher’s description) While Confessions took twenty-first-century free spirit Courtney Stone into the social confines of Jane Austen’s era, Rude Awakenings tells the parallel story of Jane Mansfield, a gentleman’s daughter from Regency England who inexplicably awakens in Courtney’s overly wired and morally confused L.A. life. Jane relishes the privacy, independence, even the power to earn her own money. But how is she to fathom her employer’s incomprehensible dictates about “syncing a BlackBerry” and “rolling a call”? How can she navigate a world in which entire publications are devoted to brides but flirting and kissing and even the sexual act itself raise no matrimonial expectations? Even more bewildering are the memories that are not her own. And the friend named Wes, who is as attractive and confusing to Jane as the man who broke her heart back home. It’s enough to make her wonder if she would be better off in her own time, where at least the rules are clear—that is, if returning is even an option. Dutton Adult, ISBN: 978-0525950769

The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy: A Novel, by Maya Slater

The Private Diary of Mr. Darcy (2009)Previously published in the UK as Mr. Darcy’s Diary, Maya Slater’s clever, funny and insightful novel was my favorite Jane Austen inspired book of 2007.  Now, this controversial look at Pride and Prejudice from Darcy’s perspective has been transported across the pond, renamed, and will be storming the American colonies on June 15th. This look at Mr. Darcy’s private diary may be a shock to Austen purist, but in my humble opinion, he is the Darcy you should get to know. (Publisher’s description) Literature’s most famous romantic hero opens his diary: it’s intimate, dramatic, deeply passionate, and sometimes downright shocking. Have you ever wondered what Mr. Darcy was really thinking? Find out his secrets in this captivating novel of love, pride, passion, and, of course, prejudice. Mr. Darcy’s intimate diary reveals his entanglements with women, his dangerous friendship with Lord Byron, his daily life in Georgian London, his mercurial mood swings calmed only by fisticuffs at Jackson’s—and, most importantly, his vain struggle to conquer his longing for Elizabeth Bennet. W.W. Norton & Co, ISBN: 978-0393336368

Prada & Prejudice, Mandy Hubbard (2009)Prada and Prejudice, by Mandy Hubbard

Not an Austen knockoff per se, but close. This young adult novel appeals to this not so young adult too! (Publisher’s description) To impress the popular girls on a high school trip to London, klutzy Callie buys real Prada heels. But trying them on, she trips…conks her head…and wakes up in the year 1815! There Callie meets Emily, who takes her in, mistaking her for a long-lost friend. As she spends time with Emily’s family, Callie warms to them—particularly to Emily’s cousin Alex, a hottie and a duke, if a tad arrogant. But can Callie save Emily from a dire engagement, and win Alex’s heart, before her time in the past is up? More Cabot than Ibbotson, Prada and Prejudice is a high-concept romantic comedy about finding friendship and love in the past in order to have happiness in the present. Razorbill, ISBN: 978-1595142603

Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley, by Fenella Miller (2009)Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley, by Fenella J Miller

I like to support emerging authors and this first effort gives us a new perspective on two characters from Pride and Prejudice that have not been over done, yet! The cover art by Jane Odiwe (Lydia Bennet’s Story) is enchanting. (Publisher’s description) In Miss Bennet & Mr. Bingley, Fenella J Miller returns to Jane Austen’s best loved novel, Pride and Prejudice, giving an insight into both Charles and Jane’s private thoughts through that difficult year. We discover what Jane did in London and how Charles filled the days until he was able to return to Netherfield. This book takes us past the wedding – when Kitty Bennet becomes the heroine of the hour. “Jane Bennet is in the spotlight in Fenella-Jane Miller’s delightful novel. We see Jane’s growing love for Bingley as well as her view of Elizabeth and Darcy’s unfolding relationship, and we find out what happened to her in London when she thought all was lost. Humorous, engaging and true to Jane Austen’s world, this is a charming read for Austen fans.” Amanda Grange is the bestselling author of Mr. Darcy’s Diary. Park Publishing, ISBN: 978-0956153104

The Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview (2009) UK editionThe Other Mr. Darcy, by Monica Fairview

For UK readers, watch for this creative new novel focusing on Caroline Bingley and Mr. Darcy’s American cousin! US readers will be happy to know that Sourcebooks has picked up the paperback rights and The Other Mr. Darcy will be available with a beautiful new cover and a longer title starting in October. (Publisher’s description) When Caroline Bingley, for the first time in her life, collapses to the floor and sobs at Mr. Darcy’s wedding, she does not think anyone is watching. Imagine her humiliation when she discovers that a stranger has witnessed her emotional display. Miss Bingley, understandably, resents this unknown gentleman very much, even if he is Mr. Darcy’s American cousin. And a year later, when she is forced to travel to Pemberley with him, she still has not forgiven him. But her attempts to snub him fail completely, and, as the Bennet’s descend upon them, she finds herself spending more and more time in his company, with her rigid standards of behaviour slipping slowly away…Is there more to the infamous Miss Bingley than meets the eye? And can this other Mr. Darcy break through her reserve? Robert Hale Ltd, London, ISBN: 978-0709088110

The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer (2009)The Corinthian, by Georgette Heyer

The next installment by Sourcebooks of Regency romance queen Georgette Heyer’s classic novels is the reissue of The Corinthian which was originally published during war torn Britain in 1940. It is as welcome to readers today as it was sixty-nine years ago. (Publisher’s description) Georgette Heyer presents her sparkling wit with a Shakespearean twist. Walking home at dawn, quite drunk, Sir Richard Wyndham encounters heiress Penelope Creed climbing out her window. She is running away from a dreaded marriage to her fish-lipped cousin, while Sir Richard himself is contemplating a loveless marriage with a woman his friends have compared to a cold poultice. Sir Richard can’t allow her to careen about the countryside unchaperoned, even in the guise of a boy, so he pretends to be her tutor and takes her on a fine adventure. When their stagecoach overturns, they find themselves embroiled with thieves, at the center of a murder investigation, and finally, in love. Sourcebooks, Casablanca, ISBN: 978-1402217692

Nonfiction 

Jane Austen and Enlightenment, by Peter Knox-Shaw (2009)Jane Austen and the Enlightenment, by Peter Knox-Shaw

This scholarly treatise is now available for the first time in paperback for those, like me, without deep pockets. It amazes how Austen’s prose style is dissected and compared to everyone and anything. Scholars can not agree when the age of Enlightenment started and ended, but its principles of self actualization certainly apply to Austen characters and plots. (Publisher’s description) It is now widely understood that Jane Austen’s writing and thought derived directly from her late eighteenth-century childhood, but astonishingly this is the first study of the influence on Jane Austen of the Enlightenment. In drawing out the Enlightenment principles and ideas which lie behind much of Austen’s writing, Peter Knox-Shaw brings a whole new perspective to the study of Austen’s novels. Jane Austen and the Enlightement is essential reading for all those interested in Austen and her writing. Cambridge University Press, ISBN: 978-0521759977

Relocating Shakespeare and Austen on Screen, by Lisa Hopkins (2009)Relocating Shakespeare and Austen on Screen, by Lisa Hopkins

Professor Lisa Hopkins, a Shakespearean expert, chats about Austen film adaptations and reinterpretations: Bridget Jones’ Diary, Bride and Prejudice, Becoming Jane, Pride and Prejudice (2005) and two of the 2007 adaptations: Mansfield Park and Northanger Abbey. Not much room left for Shakespeare, but Janeites won’t mind. (Publisher’s description) Lisa Hopkins analyzes eight film adaptations which have taken either Shakespeare or Jane Austen – icons of Englishness – out of their original geographical or cultural context and transposed them to a new location, allowing for a powerful interrogation both of what these texts mean in the modern world, and of Englishness itself. Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN: 978-0230579552

Austen’s Contemporaries

Castle Rackrent (Oxford World's Classics), by Maria Edgeworth (2009)Castle Rackrent (Oxford World’s Classics), by Maria Edgeworth

From Maria Edgeworth’s perspective, it is easy to see why she disliked Jane Austen’s novel Emma, claiming “there’s no story in it.” I respectfully disagree with her opinion, and so do many, but she preferred instead to write about a larger sphere than “two or three families in a country village” and delved into areas where Austen never chose to tread: politics, religion and social unrest. Sir Walter Scott thought both writers were brilliant, so that evens the score. (Publisher’s description) With her satire on Anglo-Irish landlords in Castle Rackrent (1800), Maria Edgeworth pioneered the regional novel and inspired Sir Walter Scott’s Waverley (1814). Politically risky, stylistically innovative, and wonderfully entertaining, the novel changes the focus of conflict in Ireland from religion to class, and boldly predicts the rise of the Irish Catholic bourgeoisie. Set in Ireland prior to its achieving legislative independence from Britain in 1782, Castle Rackrent tells the story of three generations of an estate-owning family as seen through the eyes — and as told in the voice — of their longtime servant, Thady Quirk, recorded and commented on by an anonymous Editor. This edition of Maria Edgeworth’s first novel is based on the 1832 edition, the last revised by her, and includes Susan Kubica Howard’s foot-of-the-page notes on the text of the memoir as well as on the notes and glosses the Editor offers “for the information of the ignorant English reader.” Howard’s Introduction situates the novel in its political and historical context and suggests a reading of the novel as Edgeworth’s contribution to the discussion of the controversial Act of Union between Ireland and Britain that went into effect immediately after the novel’s publication in London in 1800. The second edition now includes new notes informed by the latest scholarship. Oxford University Press, USA, ISBN: 978-0199537556

Until next month, happy reading!

Laurel Ann

Mr. Darcy’s Diary, by Maya Slater – A Review

Image of the cover of Mr. Darcy's Diary, by Maya Slater (2007)

If Jane Austen thought that her novel Pride and Prejudice was too light, bright, and sparkling and wanted shade, then author Maya Slater has made up for any deficit by crossing over to the ‘dark side’ in writing her re-telling of the story entitled Mr. Darcy’s Diary. Not only are we privy to Fitzwilliam Darcy’s most intimate and revealing secrets, we see the story of Pride and Prejudice told wholly from the male perspective, and gentle readers, be prepared. It’s a man’s world in Regency England, and dare I say, Fitzy is no saint! 

The story opens with Mr. Darcy as a house guest of the Bingley’s at Netherfield Park the night of the Meryton Assembly. Caroline Bingley is up to her ususal kow-towing activities and insists upon embroidering slippers for Darcy, even though he inwardly fumes that he has no use for them. He is ruminating over sister Georgiana’s letter, and sees no solution to her predicament, the particulars of which are not yet known to us. The party arrives at the Assembly rooms and there is little of interest for him. Seeing the dance unfold from his perspective is an interesting vantage; the rooms, the music and the “superfluity of raw young ladies eager for dancing partners were all disenchanting to him”. His breeches are too tight so he does not sit down. Beyond the perfunctory dances with his two hostesses, Miss Bingley and Mrs. Hurst, he saw nothing in the room to tempt him. No mention is made of his slighting our heroine Elizabeth Bennet, but this is Mr. Darcy’s diary after all, and an event of no consequence to him would surely not be recorded in his diary. 

The diary continues in this first person narrative as Mr. Darcy relays his thoughts, concerns and observations over the timeline of events in Pride and Prejudice. It is not hard to image that Darcy might have written a diary, since he is so eloquent in communication in the original novel as seen in his famous “Be not alarmed madam” letter to Elizabeth Bennet addressing the charges laid before him after her rejection of his first marriage proposal. It might well be one of the most compelling and convincing letters in literary history, so like most young ladies whose imagination is very rapid, I will jump from one well written letter to surmising his ability to write a diary in a moment.  He is after all, Mr. Darcy. He “has no defect. He owns it himself without disguise.” 

Continue reading

Mr. Darcy’s Diary: Interview with Author Maya Slater

Check out this interesting interview with Austen-esque author Maya Slater about her recently released first novel Mr. Darcy’s Diary.

If you think that the title seems familiar, you are quite right. It is one-in-the-same as author Amanda Grange’s recent release. The difference between the two being that Slater’s version has not yet been published internationally, but is available from Powell Books online and Amazon.uk. My copy arrived about a week ago, and I am about half way through it. I can say, before I give my official review, that Maya Slater has explored the ‘Regency’ man’s perspective, cavorting and all, and my hair is quite a bit curlier because of Mr. Darcy’s escapades.

Icon of Mr. Darcy\'s DiaryMr. Darcy’s Diary, by Maya Slater
Phoenix, Orion Books, Ltd., London, (2007)
Trade paperback (248) pages
ISBN: 978-0753822661