Everyone knows the story of Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen's most popular romance. Few people can have missed seeing the 2005 film with Kiera Knightley, or the earlier, and more faithful, BBC TV adaptation. Suffice it to say that the plot of `The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy' is the same. The difference is that this is Pride and Prejudice told from Darcy's point of view.
I reckoned that this was a great idea, and there are certainly flashes of insight here, which make the exercise of re-telling such a classic a worthwhile thing to do. For example, it hadn't occurred to me before that Darcy must have been on his guard against fortune-hunting young women - and that that must naturally have figured into his unwillingness to dance with Elizabeth. I also admired the neat way that the author explained why it took so long for Darcy to tell Bingley that perhaps Jane loved him after all. I very much enjoyed the focus on Darcy and Bingley's friendship, which parallels the friendship between Elizabeth and Jane in P&P, and Bingley in particular comes out of this book even more sympathetic than he was in the original.
This re-telling is a particularly good ploy. For fans of P&P there is a great deal of enjoyment to be had from meeting the old beloved characters again from a slightly fresh perspective. For those who don't know Pride and Prejudice then the plot of the book will be complex and surprising, the language delightful, and the psychological insights possibly more profound than many run of the mill romances. It is a win-win situation.
For my own part I have to regret that the writer was not up to Jane Austen's standard of prose, nor was she as witty or as insightful as Austen. Most of the charm of the book comes from Austen's original plot and the large swathes of Austen's dialogue, which the author has lifted from the original. It is an easy read, and fun for both fans of Austen and those who have never opened a Jane Austen book in their lives. So it can't be all bad!
Originally published in the U.K., Mary Street's ingenious retelling of Jane Austen's classic story now makes its U.S. debut-to the delight of the fans of Austen's comic masterpiece of divine romance. In Fitzwilliam Darcy, Austen created the ultimate romantic hero. Yet Pride and Prejudice reveals little of Darcy's innermost thoughts. Here, Street unveils the true motives and mysteries of Elizabeth Bennet's enigmatic suitor. Through Darcy's eyes we discover the reality of his relationships with his sister Georgiana, his cousin Colonel Fitzwilliam, the dastardly Wickham, his friend Bingley, and his formidable aunt, Lady Catherine. And of course, all his memorable encounters with Elizabeth, from that first view of her fine eyes to his disastrous proposal, and then to a pride and arrogance tempered by an unquenchable love.