Monday, November 22, 2010
A Darcy Christmas: "Mr. Darcy's Christmas Carol" by Carolyn Eberhart
Although there are three stories in the book, I wanted to share a little bit about the first story in the novel, "Mr. Darcy's Christmas Story" by Carolyn Eberhart. It doesn't seem that Eberhart has published anything prior to her story included in the novel (according to the bio in the book or online), so I was interested to get a taste of her writing.
Synopsis: It's not Ebenezer Scrooge. It's Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy fresh off his refusal of marriage by Ms. Elizabeth Bennett, marriage of Lydia and Wickham, and marriage of his good friend Bingley to Elizabeth's other sister Jane. Unlike the original novel, Darcy never did return after Bingley's proposal to Jane, to do likewise with Elizabeth. Instead, he sulked and returned home to be sullen and depressed. Heading into Christmas, Darcy experiences the classic "A Christmas Carol" story, replete with his ghost of Christmas past, present, and future. Each ghost shows him the result of his pride and fear, showing him how he's hurt and worried those around him, and how life will turn out if he doesn't swallow his pride (backed by a big dose of fear). When the three ghosts leave him behind to take charge of his own life, he presses forward with the understanding of how life could be if he made no action today.
Review: As similar to the original Dickens tale as it can be, this mashup delivers a beautiful twist to the famous Christmas tale that is so familiar. Rather than Ebenezer, we see Darcy haunted by his past, present, and future, each haunted by what pride and fear can do to a person's life. Although this is a smart retelling of "A Christmas Carol," I found myself bewitched by the themes of personal growth that remained in tact. Yes it was about Darcy conquering his own personal demons to propose to Elizabeth again, thus bringing about happiness for both of them, but that familiar message of seizing the day and creating your own happiness by looking outside of yourself still shined through.
I really loved the thoughtful writing, with its beautiful voice and connection to the original tale. In this case, I don't think that this smart retelling would offend the purists who hate their classics marred with modern romantic sensibilities. Yes, it was about Darcy getting Elizabeth, but it was more about his own journey to overcoming his fears so he could find eventual happiness. That theme and the weaving in of the real Ebenezer were smart and fun to read.
If you can get your hands on this book, I have to give "Mr. Darcy's Christmas Carol" a high recommendation. It was an easy, fast read, and one that had me more philosophical about life and the Christmas season ahead of us than anything. To top it off, it had that fun Austen twist to it that made it really fun to watch unfold. Honestly, I now hope to hear more from Eberhart down the road!
*FTC Disclosure: Review is based on an Advanced Review Copy provided by Sourcebooks. No monies were exchanged in this review process.