Friday, December 28, 2012

First Impressions: Pride and Prejudice Variations

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange
March 2007, Sourcebooks
329 pages
Good Reads + Amazon
4/5 stars
My review
"Mr. Darcy's Diary presents the story of the unlikely courtship of Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy from Darcy's point of view. This graceful imagining and sequel to Pride and Prejudice explains Darcy's moodiness and the difficulties of his reluctant relationship as he struggles to avoid falling in love with Miss Bennet."
- Good Reads
To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds
August 2012, Sourcebooks Casablanca
407 pages
Good Reads + Amazon
4/5 stars

"In 'To Conquer Mr. Darcy,' instead of avoiding Elizabeth after his ill-fated marriage proposal, Mr. Darcy follows her back to Hertfordshire to prove to her he is a changed man and worth of her love. And little by little, Elizabeth begins to find the man she thought she despised, irresistible..."
-Good Reads

Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds
January 2012, Sourcebooks Landmark
248 pages
4/5 stars

"In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet tells the proud Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy that she wouldn't marry him if he were the last man in the world. But what if she never said the words? What if circumstances conspired to make her accept Darcy the first time he proposes?"
-Good Reads

Don't forget to check out ACReads on Facebook! The review is after the break...

What is a "First Impression" review? I discuss a new genre, theme, idea, etc. that I've recently become acquainted with using two or three book examples.

First and foremost, what is a Jane Austen/Pride and Prejudice variation? Simply put, a variation is the same thing as a re-imagining or a re-telling. The story takes place within the P&P universe and builds off of the characters and plot that Jane Austen originally created. The characters of the variations are all based off of Austen's characters, and their actions/mannerisms are based off of assumed canonical traits as the original characters. Variation books can discuss secondary characters of P&P, give re-imaginings of P&P from another character's point of view, act as sequels or, explore the "what if" of certain plot points. Nothing that occurs in these variations is considered canon. (Think: fan fiction.) Mr. Darcy's Diary explores P&P from Darcy's perspective while the second and third books that I discuss (both by Abigail Reynolds) explore the "what if" moments... that is, what if Darcy followed Lizzie back to Longbourn after she rejected him during her stay with Charlotte Collins. 

Before I really begin this review, I feel as though I need to explain a few things about myself. The only Austen book that I have ever read is Pride and Prejudice and while I adore the story and the characters, I am not a Jane Austen purist. If you happen to be a strict Austen purist, I would venture to guess that you probably will not enjoy a vast majority of variations. However, if you loved P&P, need more Darcy, and are open to twisting and tweaking the plot... Welcome. I think you will find that you like it here. 

(Takes a deep breath...)

I am obsessed with Pride and Prejudice variations. In the past ten days, I have devoured nearly 1,000 pages of this genre... and I am hungry for more. There, I've said it. Every time someone asks me what I am currently reading, I sheepishly answer, "A Pride and Prejudice what if novel..." and wince as he/she either stares at me like I am insane or gives me a completely blank stare. I do not mean to insult any of the authors or books (God knows that I love them) but these stories are essentially fan fiction... and I now understand those of you who are obsessed with fan fictions. 

My first introduction into this genre was Mr. Darcy's Diary which is told entirely through Darcy's perspective in diary format and begins when Georgiana Darcy nearly elopes with George Wickham, a month or so before Darcy, Bingley and co. move to Netherfield. I won't go too in depth about this book because I have already written a review (that you can find here) but suffice it to say that I thought this was a great introduction to the world of variations. Amanda Grange does not deviate too far from the original plot and does not offer anything too shocking. 

Abigail Reynolds' books, though? Ugh. These are the books that hooked and reeled me in. Reynolds has an eerie way of imitating Jane Austen's style so closely that I was almost convinced that I was reading about the original characters. While I did enjoy To Conquer Mr. Darcy, there were moments of complete impropriety (read: make out scenes and premarital sex) that made this particular story a bit hard to take seriously. But at the end of the day, if I was looking for something faithful to Pride and Prejudice, I would just read the book. All in all, To Conquer Mr. Darcy was fun. It explored the possible courtship between Darcy and Lizzie if he had opted to follow her back to Hertfordshire after she rejected him the first time. 

Of the two novels, Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World was without a doubt my favorite. Because the story explores the "what if" of Elizabeth accepting Darcy's first proposal, the two characters are thrust together in a marriage that is, at first, extremely cold and heart breaking. Elizabeth is not yet convinced that Darcy is a good man, let alone aware that she could possibly feel anything towards him... so we see a side of Lizzie that is alienated and utterly alone. Darcy's initial elation and joy that Lizzie has accepted him crumbles into despair and heart break. Of course the two eventually resolve their feelings towards one another but the journey to the end is incredibly intense. I adore this book. I will be reading it again.

So, what was my first impression? Positive. I want more. Now. I'm thinking that the winter months are going to be my Austen months... I have a gorgeous pile of new books that I received for Christmas but I only have eyes for variations. And thanks to Good Reads, my wishlist is growing at an alarming rate.

How about you? Have you read variations of any book... not necessarily of Jane Austen novels? 

Happy reading!


  1. I love P&P but haven't read any variations besides a few modern takes on the story! I definitely should lol! I am a nerd and read tons of fanfic!

    1. Oh my gosh, Dana - DO IT! I fell in love with them!!! I'm going to start being delusional about Mr. Darcy. Another good one that I just finished is Austenland by Shannon Hale - it isn't a variation by it was pretty cute. I don't know if you have a Kindle but it was 1.99 on Amazon! My Dear Mr. Darcy is 1.99 too!