While I was trying very hard not to think about my master thesis defence and graduation ceremony last week, I could not concentrate on anything but those Austenesque novels which I desperately want to love, searching for that first experience of reading Pride and Prejudice, that desperate need to keep on reading, and never quite achieving it. I read two modern reimaginings of Pride and Prejudice and three follow-ups (I DNF all of the latter). I believe modern retellings may be more to my liking, I get less angry when the writing is different, when there are slight changes in character, and about all the sex. Can someone explain to me why there is SO MUCH SEX in all these Austenesque novels?
- – -
Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star – Heather Lynn Rigaud
Sourcebooks Landmark, September 2011
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *
Basic plot summary: Darcy is guitarist of the rock band Slurry, of which Charles Bingley is lead singer and Richard Fitzwilliam the drummer. Jane Bennet, Elizabeth Bennet, and Charlotte Lucas, together form Long Bourne Suffering, and accompany slurry on their tour of the USA as a support act. And so begins a story of misunderstandings, love, and basically, lots of sex scenes.
There is something in the classic novel hero turned rock star that appeals to me, the exterior of proud man who finds it hard to trust people that fits our contemporary rock star image. Unfortunately, I enjoyed the rockstar take on Jane Eyre that I read recently more than I did this one. The thing is, the plot of this one is all but nonexistent. Had Rigaud chosen to end this book around page 200, it would have been more convincing than the 430 pages it actually is. After page 200, Rigaud gives us a number of (tiny) misunderstandings and far-fetched plot twists that all lead to Darcy and Elizabeth feeling attracted to each other, but doubting if the other likes them, more doubt, a little anger, and of course, make-up sex. Yes, it gets a little predictable and tiring after a while. Also, the descriptions of the sex scenes made me giggle, a lot. And now the kind of giggle that actually says “wait, I am rather turned on by this description”, but the kind that means: “What the? How is that even sexy instead of silly?” For example, there are lots of references about Darcy’s skill in bed, because he is a musician. Now, not because as a rock star he surely must have had lots of one night stands and thus probably learned a thing or two, no because surely hands that play an instrument that well, must be able to “play” your body in an amazing way as well. Lots and lots of parallels between Darcy playing guitar and words that surely must be meant to make you think of something else:
“He felt troubled and frustrated, and he sought release of these feelings in the privacy of his music. His eyes closed and his breathing grew deeper as he focused on the sensations in his hands. His fingers moved of their own volition, without thought. They gently loved the instrument, caressing the strings, squeezing them tightly then releasing them, his fingertips dancing over the frets to cause the silver strands to vibrate at the rate he desired. (…) It was a song of yearning.”
If it wasn’t for the rest of the book being so heavily focused on sexual tension and sex scenes, perhaps I might have read that paragraph differently. Other scenes in which Darcy and Elizabeth’s kissing is compared to angels:
“She stared at him with eyes wide and dark, and without thinking, he kissed her. It was the light, gentle kiss of one angel to another.”
My conclusion: An okay guilty-pleasure read, only very loosely inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. Prepare for lots of giggles and rolling your eyes at the “romance” of these two characters.
Also, and that’s the last thing I’ll say: Slurry the apparently huge rock band was inspired by Puddle of Mud, really? I am not sure what kind of status Puddle of Mud has in the US, but surely a huge rock band is of a whole other calibre? Also, I just cannot think of Darcy as a member of Puddle of Mud. Nor can I imagine Elizabeth singing Sheryl Crow. But as was the case with “Jane” by April Lindner, I seem to have a whole different picture in my head when I think of the word rock star or rock band.
The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy – Sara Angelini
Sourcebooks Landmark, 2009
Buy: Amazon | Bookdepository *
Basic plot summary: Elizabeth Bennet is an attorney who is just starting out, while Darcy is a Judge at the same court. Darcy falls in love with Elizabeth, but will they be able to be together since romantic relations are forbidden between judge and attorney?
This one started out so strong! Until Sara Angelini, too, started to favour sex scenes over plot. It was interesting to see Elizabeth as an attorney, quite believable too. Darcy as a judge, well, why not? But their interaction even before they get together seems a little out of sync with the original characterisations. Darcy hiding behind the helmet he wears on a Halloween party because he wants to spend time with Elizabeth without her knowing it is him? I just cannot imagine Darcy doing that. The writing is quite enjoyable, and the struggles of Elizabeth not wanting to fall in love and giving up her career are believable. I did have difficulty understanding just how suddenly Elizabeth went from disliking Darcy to jumping into bed with him (2 days?)
Verdict: Quite enjoyable guilty-pleasure read, if you are willing to suspend your assumptions about the difficulties to be overcome by Darcy and Elizabeth in making the other fall in love with him/her.
Other Opinions: The Book Girl, Stacy’s Books, Books and Needlepoint, A Hoyden’s Look at Literature, Books Like Breathing, Wendi’s Book Corner, Yankee Romance Reviewers, Polishing Mud Balls, Romance Rookie.
Did I miss yours? Let me know and I will add your review to the list.
- – -
Part 2, discussing Mr. Darcy Take a Wife, Darcy and Fitzwilliam, and Mr. and Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy: Two Shall Become One, will be published tomorrow. Oh joy.
* This is an affiliate link. If you buy a product through this link, I will receive a small percentage of the purchase price.