28 November 2007

Me, Mr. Darcy and a lot of silliness.

Over Thanksgiving I finished the first book in the From the Stacks challenge, Alexandra Potter's ME AND MR. DARCY. Unfortunately, I have to say I do not recommend this book.

Our heroine, Emily, opts to join an Austen-themed bus trip through England over Christmas instead of joining her single friend for a Spring Break-style boozefest. Once she arrives in England, though, the bed and breakfasts are unbearable, each site the same as the last, and the other members of the tour are all old ladies except for an annoying laddie journalist who misses his model girlfriend. Emily's just starting to enjoy herself when, lagging behind on a tour, she is visited by a man who claims to be Mr. Darcy. Yes, the fictional one.

Pretty much any book that references Jane Austen has the opportunity to tap into the themes and common narratives of her work, and her characters, inclined as they are towards marriage, could potentially be read as chick-lit heroines in the making. Unfortunately, this book went out of its way to brand Emily as a nerdy shut-in, and then has her do a series of very stupid things. As the plot threads of her life begin to resemble PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, she seems to be the last one to know it. (I must interject here -- I am an Austen fan, but not a fanatic, and you don't have to be a completist to pick up these references.) And the semi-supernatural elements of the book (I'm wording this carefully so as not to spoil anything) seem to add up to a lesson that is dissonant with the rest of the story. Certainly it doesn't really explain the ending.

There's better chick lit out there than this book. And hey, if you haven't read PRIDE AND PREJUDICE yet... it's not too late.

Next up: Martha Moody's BEST FRIENDS.


Anna said...

what's with the austen mania lately? would-be typical chick lit authors capitalizing on the success of the keira knightley movie? i've never read any of these books (or seen that movie, "jane austen book club"? was that the name? i should fact-check my blog comments), but i can only imagine how much they suck. women who want to get lost in an austen-like world would do better to just freaking read austen.

Elizabeth said...

I always thought that fan fiction was intentionally predictable, intended to be comforting rather than brilliant or original (because if you're going to write your own Great American Novel, don't you want it to be entirely yours?).

Don't get me wrong; I have read many Star Wars novels and imitation Sherlock Holmes short stories in my day, and while the best were enjoyable to read, I think that's only because I was expecting them to play a different role than Literature does. (In fact, I think you can make an argument that the entire genre of fantasy, a genre of which I am very fond, is only so much fan fiction of the Lord of the Rings.)

(The worst fan fiction is unspeakably bad, but that once again might be because it would never occur to me to pick up a terrible original novel, but the prospect of another Sherlock Holmes adventure is enough to pique my interest.)