Thursday, May 13, 2010

Review: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart
By Beth Pattillo
Publication date: February 10, 2010
My rating: ****

My review:

Claire Prescott finds mystery and romance when she heads to England to present a paper at a Jane Austen conference. Claire has been looking out for her younger sister Missy since the death of their parents years ago. When Missy cannot attend a Jane Austen conference due to pregnancy complications Claire is glad to go in her place. Claire has recently lost her job and her relationship with her boyfriend Neil feels stale so the trip is a chance to get away and reinvent herself. In England, Claire runs into the eccentric Harriet Dalrymple who claims to have First Impressions, the lost original version of Pride and Prejudice, a version where Elizabeth Bennet has another love interest besides Mr. Darcy. Claire can't help but doubt her until she starts to read the very convincing excerpts herself. At the Jane Austen conference she meets handsome James Beaufort, an American publisher and her attraction is instant. James pays her attention in a way that Neil never did. Then Neil shows up in England and Claire is forced to deal with everything she's been running from.

Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart offers a creative modern spin on Jane Austen's work. I enjoyed the parts of the story about the early version of Pride and Prejudice even though it didn't read like Jane Austen's typical writing. In this version of the story, Mr. Bennet has already died so it changes the circumstances of the Bennet family. We get to see most of the main characters from the original, including Lady Catherine de Burgh but there are some marked differences in the plot. I wished I could have read the entire novel instead of excerpts but I imagine it would have been difficult for Beth Pattillo to write both a complete new version of Pride and Prejudice and a complete modern story about Claire.

Claire is a likeable protagonist but at times I was annoyed with her behavior, particularly some of the choices she makes. At the same time she is a very caring person in the way she is concerned about Missy and Harriet Dalrymple. While the book is strongly connected to Pride and Prejudice my impression of Claire is that she is more similar to Elinor Dashwood from Sense and Sensibility. Claire is cautious in her relationships like Elinor and she has taken on a mothering role in her sister's life the same way Elinor does for her younger sisters after the death of their father. Claire also lacks the vitality and wit of Elizabeth Bennet. James on the other hand is similar to a modern Mr. Darcy who can be aloof at times or charming when he wants to be. However like Claire he is not a carbon copy of a Jane Austen character. I found him to be an interesting character. Unfortunately we don't get to know Neil as well as I would have liked. Because he is not present throughout the entire novel we just hear Claire's impression of him and their relationship.

Overall I was pleased with Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart. I liked it more than I thought I would and I particularly liked the author's version of First Impressions. We will never know what Jane Austen actually wrote in her first draft of Pride and Prejudice and I liked the idea that her own life experience inspired First Impressions. The modern part of the story was also enjoyable with some comedic moments and the descriptions of Oxford, a place I've always wanted to visit. The bits of Jane Austen trivia sprinkled throughout the story were also a treat. Although this is the second book Beth Pattillo has written based on Jane Austen's life and writing, you do not need to read Jane Austen Ruined My Life first as both books are stand alone novels. Fans of Shannon Hale's Austenland and those who enjoyed the movie Lost in Austen would probably enjoy this too. I hope that Beth Pattillo continues to write Jane Austen themed fiction. It is a lot of fun to read!

7 comments:

  1. I got this book and JANE AUSTEN RUINED MY LIFE both here at home. Need to read them soon. I think they sound fun and like something I would enjoy at just the right time. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Great review. I love this cover. You should join The Book Rat's Jane in June challenge.

    http://bookrat-misty.blogspot.com/2010/03/jane-in-june-is-coming-and-youre.html

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  3. I loved your review...nicely done!!!

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  4. Great review, Christina! I adored Lost in Austen, so I will have to check this book out. Anything involving Jane, I love and you made this one sound very interesting and a lot of fun. Great review! Can't wait to check this one out!

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  5. I've never read a Jane Austen spin-off! Maybe I'll start with this one.

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  6. Awesome review!! I have been wanting to read this one, sounds good!

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  7. Great review! I'll have to get this one :)
    By the way, I have an award for you:
    http://my-book-obsession.blogspot.com/2010/05/bodacious-award.html

    ReplyDelete

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