Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Review: The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview

Thank you again to Sourcebooks for the wonderful opportunity of reading The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview. Having recently read a book about Anne de Bourgh, Darcy and Anne by Judith Brocklehurst, I was a bit surprised to find another book told from another "fringe" character to the original Jane Austen novel. If you haven't noticed, I tend to be quite a sucker for any story that surrounds an Austen theme, so I was game for yet another. This also qualifies as my second in the "Everything Austen Challenge," for which I'm still re-reading the original Pride and Prejudice, after which, I plan on watching the BBC version of the film. This novel just made for a fun prelude to all my other Austen endeavors!

Synopsis: On the day of Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy's wedding to Elizabeth Bennett, Caroline Bingley collapsed in tears in a nearby room. To her horror and dismay, she was not alone, and finds that a rather handsome man was seated in the room and had witnessed her tears. One year later, this embarrassing moment is brought to her attention when the man reenters her life. She learns that not only does this man know of her heartbreak over losing Mr. Darcy, but that he is said heartbreaker's cousin, Robert Darcy, from the United States.

Thrown together by their families, and a tragedy that has befallen Elizabeth and Fitzwilliam, the two travel with Charles and Jane to Pemberley. Along the way, Caroline and Robert become friends, and Caroline is able to allow Robert to be her protectorate along the way. The question then becomes if a man from Boston, and an upper-class British woman, at a time when the two countries are at war, can find enough in common to really be friends and understand one another? The other question is whether or not Caroline can see Robert as anything more than yet another man who has come along to make her pursuit of an eligible man to marry more difficult?

Review: While many of us have preconceived ideas about the snobbery and catty nature that the classic Caroline Bingley portrayed in Austen's original novel, Fairview chooses to show a more developed and complex Bingley. I will admit that I have never been much of a Caroline fan, in fact, I quite relished the fact that Elizabeth could say to her, "Nah, nah, nuh-nah, nah" after marrying Darcy, so I struggled to warm up to this character. However, after you see the weaknesses and hurt behind Caroline's prickly behavior of Austen's novel, it becomes much easier to empathise with her. In fact, at one point Jane Bingley asks Caroline if she is happy, to which she responds,
It is true I have not been as cheerful as I am used to. With so many marriages taking place, I suppose, I have been considering my single state more than usual. (151)
These lines made me smile, and even chuckle a little, as anyone who is single and has been exposed to a flurry of weddings can readily understand Caroline's expression here. As the reader, however, you not only feel for her losses, but also want to see her understood, happy, and content. To this, Robert Darcy seems like a perfect hero to come sweeping in, but things just can't be that simple. Differences in culture, ideals, and propriety put these two characters at odds, even if their friendship seems to continue to build. The greatest saving grace to their friendship and relationship, Robert's gallantry.

Although I was frequently distracted by the number of times sentences started with conjunctions (yes, I'm one of those), I enjoyed this clean and charming read. The writing was still very charming, and kept a tone and style that felt indicative of the time period. I do think that this is an easy read to escape into, and not distracting away from a purist's love of the original telling of Pride and Prejudice.

For more information see: The Other Mr. Darcy: Did you know Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?.

This also completes my second in the Everything Austen Challenge.


  1. At first I was thinking, a book about Caroline? But your review convinced me otherwise. As long as the author doesn't rehash P&P then I think I'll give this one a go.
    Thanks for your thoughts on this one.

  2. Thanks for joining in on the Book Review Blog party. Be sure to add my badge (or a link back) to the end of your post. This lets readers know that you are participating in the blog party and makes going back & forth between the reviews easier!

    Stay tuned for Friday AM, when I announce the winner of the Amazon GC.

    Again, I have enjoyed reading your blog and I am now a follower!


  3. Caroline was my least favorite character but...I do love Austen. I think I might give it a try. Thanks for the review!

  4. I liked this one too. One of my more favorites of all the Austen-esque books coming out lately.

    Great review!

  5. Why is Mr. Darcy in England if America and Britain are at war? Is he a royalist? Did he defect to England? That would be a hard sell for me, especially for someone from Boston.

    And Caroline as a heroine? Euch. I don't know about this one.

  6. LOL Becky the English teacher! Please enlighten this out-of-school for ages and not-so-great on English grammar blogger what begining a sentence with a conjuctive looks like???

    Thanks for the review. I enjoyed this book greatly.

  7. I think I'm going to check out/buy every Austen themed book and for one month next summer read them all!! Thanks for another addition to my list!

  8. I like austen themed books. I like when the book tells a story from P&P but not rehashing the story.
    I will have to keep this book in mind.

  9. Thank you, mjmBecky for this very positive review. I enjoyed everyone's comments, as well. It's very nice meeting all of you.

  10. PS I didn't mean all of you. Bella and Laurel Ann -- hello! (big wave)

  11. I think I am finding the Austen spinoffs getting a bit overdone... I read a few when the trend first started, but now they are everywhere! It's going to get to the point where people are burned out on them if they don't slow down...

    Just my opinion anyways!