Monday, February 4, 2008

Darcy’s Story by Janet Aylmer: A review

It’s a fact commonly acknowledged that almost 93% of all girls who have read Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are in the want of a their own arrogant Mr Darcy. The readers’ age may span from a mere 10-year-old girl to a woman of 60, but they all seem to understandably fall in love with this quiet, straightforward, blunt, and of course tall, handsome and rich man of Pemberley.

Author Janet Aylmer is no different. The only difference being…what we all imagined the man of our dreams would have thought and felt during those scintillating conversations with the adorable Lizzy (Elizabeth Bennet), Aylmer went ahead and penned them down.

Starting off with a conversation about his deceased parents with his cousin Col Fitzwilliam, Aylmer sets the tone of the book by projecting Darcy’s softer and emotional side. The only trouble being, the emotions seem very simplistic.

A mirror image, if you will, of P&P, the story line in Darcy’s Story goes parallel to the original book. Aylmer has consciously and painstakingly never deviated from the original plot and chronology of events, reining in her creative urges to take liberty with the plot. An art many of our modern-day adapters and screenplay writers may want to learn.

Aylmer has tried to be honest to the spirit of even the minor characters that were portrayed in P&P, but due to their significance in Darcy’s life, they have more prominence in Darcy’s Story. Little nuggets of information and conversations that open up the protagonist’s character a bit more are immensely enjoyable, but unfortunately lack the finesse and wit that Austen is famous for.

Another aspect that is sadly lacking in the book is the complexity of character and the tendency to over-simplify situations. The one-liners and situations that pack a punch in the original sometimes lose their sparkle in this version. But that’s not to say that Aylmer hasn’t tried. The window into Darcy’s thoughts especially when he first proposes to Lizzy, or the time when Jane is ill and Lizzy stays at Netherfield, or when and how Darcy helps find Wikham and gets him married to Lydia are just invaluable. One can’t help but feel gratified that all the curiosity to a man’s thoughts…and that too when the man is none other than Fitzwilliam Darcy…is there for them to read and feel.

All in all, Darcy’s Story is a very enjoyable read. The best part is the idea itself and the author’s true love of P&P can be clearly felt in each and every word, which is what makes this book worth reading. Read this book just to experience the evergreen classic Pride & Prejude through the eyes of English literature’s most beloved heart-throb.

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