It seems like every winter I have an insatiable desire to curl up with Jane Austen. I like to rewatch her movies and will delve back in to one of her six novels. I even enjoy reading the sequels/retells that have spun off the originals. This year I have been in that kind of mood and recently have read two of the Pride and Prejudice retellings. These books are written by modern authors who retell the P/P story from Mr. Darcy's point of view. I've read five of these books over the years and I'm still not sick of Mr. Darcy. Here's a brief recap of each of them:
Amanda Grange has a whole series "The Diary of..." Jane Austen heroes. The story takes the details of P/P from Mr. Darcy's point of view. It also adds components that explain his motivations. In this "retelling" Darcy starts to recognize that his breeding has led him to a form of snobbery from which he must recover if he is to have any chance with Elizabeth Bennet. The book is written very simply and is an easy read. I liked the insights that Grange gives us into Darcy's character but found the stereotypical treatment of some of the other characters to be a bit tedious. For example, every time Mrs. Bennet spoke about Darcy it was to make a rude comment. (I just finished this book.)
Almost identical to the above book, The Private Dairy shows the evolution of Darcy from a snob to a devoted gentleman. I was shocked, because it would be so unAusten-like, that Darcy sleeps with a chamber maid and visits prostitutes. But as I read on I decided that Slater was just showing us what a cad Darcy was in the beginning. As he starts to recognize his faults these types of encounters stop. This book added just enough new material to make the book fairly interesting and it can be read very fast. (I finished this book in early March.)
Can you believe how similar the three book covers are? If I was going to read one of these Darcy sequels and make my selection merely by the cover I would not pick this one since it doesn't even show his head. Ha!
In this re-telling of P/P from Darcy's point of view, Janet Alymer takes great swaths of passages directly from the original by Austen. I felt like I was reading P/P with all the boring parts taken out and a point-of-view shift from Elizabeth to Darcy. For this reason, this sequel seems the least original. Students, however, really like this book, probably for that very reason. (I read this book three years ago.)
This book is the first book of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy by Aidan. Take the first third of P/P, stretch it into a book, add a lot more material and you'll have this book. Darcy alternates being repelled and bewitched by Elizabeth and is even more brooding than in the original. I read this book back in 2008 and didn't like it. At that time I said, "The only good parts of the book are the those that Austen essentially wrote. The rest of the book is tedious...It was a good idea but not a good execution." With that negative review it is shocking that I went on to read its sequel.
These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan-
I skipped over the second book of the Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman trilogy and read this book several years after the first. I bumped into it at the library and thought perhaps I had been too harsh in my estimation of the first. I'm glad I did because I really liked it. This book shows why Darcy changes so much between the first proposal and the next meeting with Elizabeth at Pemberley. It also gives plausible details how Darcy was able to find Wickham and Lydia in London. In addition, the author introduces new characters which make the story seem fresh and interesting. It referred to details that were introduced in the second book, but I never felt the need to go back and read it. I was a very satisfying read and it is my favorite of the five books mentioned here. (I read it in January 2010.)
I must get off the computer now and get back to the Jane Austen retelling of Mansfield Park: Edmund Bertram's Diary by Amanda Grange. Bye!