I have to admit that when I first started reading ‘Darcy’s Story’ by Janet Alymer, I was trying hard to dislike it. I’ve gotten kind of snobbish about my Austenalia, and coming off of Elizabeth Aston’s Writing Jane Austen, Ms. Alymer had a high bar to win my approval.
Also, I didn’t like the cover. I mean, look at it. We are given a headless crotch shot of Darcy with a bunch of purple detailing. Really? I mean REALLY?
Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
That, and my library copy is a bit on the raggedy side. So yeah. Not impressed by the aesthetics of the book. Indifferent paper, indifferent typeface, nothing special, and about as ugly a cover on a romance as I’ve ever seen.
Ahem. You wanted to know if the book is worth reading. Yes. It is. It started out slow, with Darcy’s interior life a little stiffer than I would have characterized him had it been my book, so I fantasized about writing a review that would eviscerate the artist for being a decent copyist, but no master. Which is cruel, and above all, dishonest.
It’s really tough to write the ‘other side’ of a famous story, especially when, to be true to the original, you have to use some of the original content verbatim, and use the original author’s voice. It’s the very dilemma my last Austenalia fave explored in Writing Jane Austen.
Alymer does a very good job. Mr. Darcy, as in the original, started out as a boorish prig who was easily dismissable as a romantic hero, and grew to become the heartthrob we all know and love. We got new information and insight as to his side of the story, and interesting tidbits about his sister Georgianna as well as about Elizabeth Bennett’s aunt and uncle, the Gardiners.
The story was in the style of Jane Austen, and Aylmer captured the style beautifully, but my original impression was perhaps a bit accurate. Some of the humor and quick wit of Austen’s original was missing from this. Some of that can probably be explained by the viewpoint — Darcy is not a quick-witted rake with banter as his modus operandi. But some of it, I feel, is a bit of a loss. There was room for more of the wit and social commentary that Austen used, and it wasn’t utilized.
I liked this book. I won’t rush out to read Aylmer’s whole catalog, but I did like it. My recommendation? Grab it from the library, borrow from a friend, buy it from a used book store (or used on Amazon), but don’t reserve a ‘sacred spot’ on your shelf for it, unless you collect Austenalia. It’s good, not great.
- Lessons From Jane Austen (3quarksdaily.com)
- Something about romance… (theevilicequeen.wordpress.com)