Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What I Read in October Part I...

What I Read in October Part I...

Into Hertfordshire: Darcy's Tale Vol. I by Stanley Michael Hurd -- Austenesque

Pride and Prejudice as told from Mr. Darcy's point-of-view. This story gets inside Darcy's head and could easily be called Darcy's Diary or Darcy's Thoughts for the most part. His thoughts are interrupted by his correspondence with Georgiana and her replies. The appendix in the back has the full set of correspondence, so there's two novels in one. This is exactly why I could not love this story. I didn't like the story being interrupted by lengthy letters. The letters are very dull and don't sound a bit realistic. As far as I've read, people in the 19th century didn't go around pouring their hearts out to each other, especially not to siblings so far apart in age. In the original it's clear Darcy does not treat Georgiana like an equal. She's in awe of him and thinks of him more as a father. It says so right in the text. In this version, they sound like they're the same age and tell each other everything. I also don't like that Darcy tells Bingley about Wickham (leaving out Georgiana and just hinting at a scandal). It ruins the element of surprise (even though we know it's coming) when it's revealed to the reader later.

The writing is rather dry and just doesn't grab me. There aren't many detailed descriptions in this book. I want to know what color Elizabeth's dress is and how it compliments her figure, not just it compliments her figure. Does it compliment her fine eyes or bring out chestnut highlights in her hair? I guess men don't think about those sorts of things? Anyway, at least tell me what her dress looks like and what she's reading, etc.

This Darcy is less snobby and reserved and more cool and logical. He leads with his head too much. He loves to read philosophy - both ancient and modern and thinks logic can be applied to any situation, especially marriage. He does believe in marrying someone of a like mind, someone he can respect and enjoy their company. Caroline Bingley does not fit the bill and neither do any of the Society misses he's met so far in his nine Seasons. (Why 9? He shouldn't have been on the town that young). He enjoys conversing with Elizabeth because he thinks her verbal sparring is actual logical debate rooted in theory and structure! He tells himself he just wants to be her friend but finds himself strangely attracted to her face and figure. Darcy's long letters to his sister reveal he's falling in love with someone he considers ineligible for any kind of good match because of her family. He feels sorry for her that she'll end up with someone who is not her intellectual equal and whom she can't respect. (Jane Austen's fate had she married Harris Bigg-Withers, I'm sure). He's not opposed to Bingley's marrying Jane, he's just worried about his friend's feelings because he thinks Jane doesn't return Bingley's affection.

Georgiana is a lot like Darcy but she's still young enough to believe in true love. She has a great deal of the Darcy pride but it doesn't seem as if she's a snob. She realizes that if Caroline Bingley is associating with the Bennet sisters they can't be too far beneath the Darcys socially. She recognizes her brother's feelings before he does and tries to move the relationship along. She has potential to be a bit mischievous. I look forward to seeing how she develops in the last two volumes.

I love Bingley. He's so sweet and caring. He's not stupid or slow, he's just a goodnatured man who takes things at face value. He seems to have good instincts and wants to be everyone's friend. In turn, everyone wants to be his friend. He falls in love easily but hasn't been sued for breach of promise yet.

I also really liked Darcy's valet, but he's not as awesome as Fletcher in Pamela Aidan's trilogy.

Caroline is as she appears in the original. Louisa is made out to be not very bright and she just echoes what Caroline has to say. I don't think that's true in the original, I just think both ladies need to make themselves feel superior to others because their origins are in trade so they're kind of outsiders. 

Into Kent: Darcy's Tale Vol. I by Stanley Michael Hurd -- Austenesque
Mr. Darcy returns from Hertfordshire to London to his loving sister, who is eager to hear all about Miss Elizabeth Bennet. Darcy tells her it's of no consequence and not to dwell on what can not be. Darcy spends a lot of time trying to come up with a logical debate on why he should or should not marry Elizabeth. He tries to help poor Bingley who is suffering from a broken heart. Together they enter into Society a bit and try to find suitable mates. Darcy is enchanted by a lively, intelligent young lady but not enough to want to marry her, at least not yet. Then comes Easter and his annual trip to Kent to see his aunt where he comes face to face with Elizabeth once again. Darcy delights in Elizabeth's lively mind, her teasing and her precious silence when only silence will do. Should he speak what's in his heart and mind? Of course we all know the answer to that question and what happens next.

This book does a good job of fleshing out the story and putting Darcy in his element. We see the man he is with his friends, laughing and teasing; the man he is with his sister, kind and loving; the man he sees himself as, logical and proud and the man he is with Elizabeth, tongue tied and awkwardly teasing. If you don't care for period details and lots of logical arguments, you will probably find this book boring. I love period details and that's why I find the hero diary novels boring. There are some great details about life in London for one of Darcy's station and how Georgiana is learning to become an adult.

We learn Darcy's idea of what love is based on his experiences with ladies of the ton and why he loves Elizabeth so much. He's really conflicted between duty and desire. He's in love but he's so concerned with upholding the family name and good breeding that he's miserable. He confides in his friends and family which is nice because it shows a different side of him that we don't normally see. However, I don't see Darcy as the laughing, teasing sort. He had a lot of pressure put on him at a young age when his father died. He didn't really get to live it up with other young men in town. He worries about Georgiana and everything else. We know he's not the teasing sort because at the end of the original novel, the narrator tells us Elizabeth is tempted to tease him but she doesn't because he hasn't learned to laugh at himself yet and then we learn Georgiana is shocked by the way Lizzy talks to her husband. The Darcy is this book is not as stiff as I picture him. I guess I'm mostly used to brooding Darcy.

There are a lot of new characters in this story. I really liked the introduction of Darcy's other possible love interest. She is another character from another novel. I picked up on her identity pretty quickly and I saw right through her. I wasn't at all surprised by what Darcy's valet learned but I felt Darcy was TOO innocent and should have known better. His reaction is pretty ptitiful. Darcy's valet, Perkins, is another new character. He's enigmatic in this book. We don't know much about him except he knows his duty, like his master, but he also seems to like to flirt. Other new characters include Darcy's family: The Earl of Andover, his lovely wife, his eldest son George, Viscount St. Stephens and of course Colonel Edmund Fitzwilliam. Darcy's relatives are parallels to Elizabeth's family. The Earl and Countess are much like the Gardiners; a loving, supportive couple who help guide the Darcys to adulthood. Cousin George is a fop, a member of the Carlton House set, a "duckling" and direct parallel to a certain obsequious clergyman related to Elizabeth. Bingley appears as well but I see him as a new character because this Bingley comes across as more intelligent and witty than the original. He's fully well aware of what his sister's goal is and how Darcy feels about it without being told. Bingley is such a likeable character though, I felt like I needed to give him a hug!

This second volume is better than the first. I'm curious though how Darcy is going to grow and change if he's already not as stiff as usually portrayed. 

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