Monday, January 18, 2016

Jane Austen TV Movie Alert

Jane Austen TV Movie Alert

Dear blog readers,

I usually hear about these sorts of things long in advance but I haven't heard anyone mention this one yet. A modern update of Pride and Prejudice called Unleashing Mr. Darcy (based on the book by Teri Wilson) will air on Hallmark Channel on Saturday January 23, 2016 at 9:00 PM. Hallmark is known for their family-friendly movies so I have high hopes for their revision of the novel. I can't wait to see the dogs anyway!

My book review:

Unleashing Mr. Darcy by Teri Wilson -- Women's Fiction/Austenesque

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single woman approaching thirty must be in want of a husband. Not so for Elizabeth Scott. She's a career woman content with the love of her Cavalier King Charles puppy Bliss. After being forced out of her job (temporarily, she hopes) at an expensive private school, Elizabeth decides to enter Bliss into a dog show for fun. She thinks her puppy is pretty great and hopes the judge will think so too. There's a last minute judging change and the new judge is one Donovan Darcy, an upper-class British dog breeder and a young Daniel Craig look-alike. Elizabeth is transfixed and them humiliated as Mr. Darcy seems to be teasing her and tormenting her while she tries to show Bliss and maintain her composure. Dononvan can't help but be charmed by MISS SCOTT (not exhibitor number five, thank you). She's the first woman he's ever seen that looks at him as if he's a worm. He feels badly about their exchange but for some reason, she gives him the cold shoulder. Typical, haughty rich man, thinks Elizabeth, he doesn't give a care for anyone except himself. Well, she wants nothing to do with him and will never see him again. When her new friend Sue Barrows, a British dog fancier, invites Elizabeth to move to London to be a nanny to her four beloved Border Terriers, Elizabeth gladly accepts. London is a huge place and Mr. Darcy lives in the country so their paths will never cross, right? Wrong... Donovan Darcy spends most of his time in London across the street from the Barrows. Why does Elizabeth feel Sue is playing matchmaker? Elizabeth wants nothing to do with Donovan Darcy, despite his adorable dog. Donovan won't let Elizabeth go without trying to make amends. He's most certainly not falling in love! She can't decide whether he infuriates her or makes her heart beat faster. She could never fall in love with a haughty, idle, rich man, despite what her beloved sister Jenna and her friend Sue think.

I thought the premise of this book sounded great. A single 30-ish woman who prefers the love of her dog to a man- sound like someone you know?! Unfortunately, even the cute dogs couldn't save this book. Where do I start with my review? I suppose with the "romance." Elizabeth willfully misjudges Donovan all the time for no real reason except one past bad experience. A bad experience which she never ever shares with Donovan, showing that she never fully trusts him. She is the one who has to overcome her prejudices and change. I found her attraction to Donovan silly and it made her go from an intelligent, strong woman (sense) into a silly, stupid woman (sensibility). Sure she lusts after Donovan but the relationship doesn't quite develop the way it should. Donovan is actually a good guy. He's not much like his original counterpart except he's wealthy, takes care of his little sister and has an overbearing aunt. He's used to being hunted for his wealth and Elizabeth intrigues him. However, I found him just as stupid as Elizabeth. He lusts after her and tries hard to ignore his heart, yet at the same time, he tries hard to please her. Every time he turns around she's rude to him. He likes to tease her and get her going which makes the relationship rocky at best. The characters spend too much time being physically attracted to one another without really getting to know each other. Donovan never opens up to Elizabeth either. She learns about him second hand, like in the original, but that comes too late in the novel for it to work well. The rest is rushed. There also needed to be an epilogue involving Bliss and Finneus and a parallel to Elizabeth and Donovan. The premise was great but the execution was not.

The subplot with Helena (Caroline Bingley) is so transparent. I knew right away what she was going to do. Elizabeth should have figured it out. The subplot with Jenna and Henry is pointless. It's a very minor part of the story unlike in the original. It wasn't necessary. Neither was Donovan's aunt who plays a very minor role in the story and isn't a direct copy of her original. There's also no plot with Donovan's sister so she's a superfluous character. I liked her though and found her relationship with her brother charming and wished there had been more scenes together. The dogs are the best characters of them all. I'm not sure all the dog show information is accurate. I think Mr. Darcy behaved quite properly at the first show and Elizabeth took it personally, which makes the plot even more silly. There's also a lot of breaking of the rules, which is glossed over for the most part. There's a lot of politics in dog shows, from what I've been told, and I don't think Elizabeth would like that sort of thing.

Now, the writing. The story isn't a direct parallel of Pride and Prejudice, which usually works better, but the story doesn't make a lot of sense the way it is. The author copies Jane Austen's phrasing and bits of dialogue at times. It sounds silly coming out of the mouths of modern characters. Elizabeth even utters a non-sequitur because it comes from the book and the author obviously liked the line. There's even an infamous scene from the BBC adaptation. That's becoming a cliche.

This is a modern romance and there are some makeout scenes and a love scene but nothing super smutty. It's not worse than a typical romantic comedy movie these days (strong PG-13/mild R). A more detailed love scene with dialogue might actually have gone a longer way towards making the relationship work but we're told what happened so that's fine.

I need to learn to stay away from Austen adaptations. I know I don't like them but I couldn't resist. This isn't the worst book I've read but it's not one I'd read again or recommend

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