Sunday, March 27, 2011

Me and Mr. Darcy - Alexandra Potter

Summary:  After a string of disastrous dates, Emily Albright decides she's had it with love.  She'd much rather curl up with Pride and Prejudice and spend her time with Mr. Darcy, the dashing, honorable, and passionate hero of Jane Austen's classic.  So when her best friend suggests a wild week of margaritas and men in Mexico with the girls, Emily abruptly flees to England on a guided tour of Jane Austen country instead.  Far from inspiring romance, though, the company aboard the tour bus consist of a gaggle of little old ladies and one single man, Spike Hargeaves, a foul-tempered journalist writing an article on why the fictional Mr. Darcy has earned the title of Man Most Women Would Love to Date.

The last thing Emily expects to find on her excursion is a broodingly handsome man striding across a field, his damp shirt clinging to his chest.  But that's exactly what happens when she comes face-to-face with none other than Mr. Darcy himself.  And suddenly, every woman's fantasy becomes one woman's reality...  (Summary from book - Image from shelfari.com)

My Review:  Honestly, why do I even try? Retellings never live up to the real thing.

Let's start with the likes, shall we? There is really just the one. Emily Albright is an awkward, sarcastic, and outspoken book lover. She’s me, but single (and childless). I loved her brash inner dialog, especially when she couldn’t contain it, and her stream-of-consciousness rambling created a voice that you will find either humorous or exceedingly irritating. I’d like to think you’ll land on humorous, but we can’t all have great taste. Don’t feel bad.

With names Spike and Ernie, it was hard to take this story's "Darcy" or the "Wickham" seriously. Since Ms. Potter’s knowledge of popular culture is clearly displayed throughout the book, she should have known that if she named a character Spike and gave him a British accent, I would picture this guy and that it would darn near ruin everything. And Ernie? Seriously?

Miss Potter also took so many liberties with both timeline and character presence that, aside from some obvious similarities, her book feels only loosely based on Pride and Prejudice. From time to time, she would drop in block quotes from the original novel that mirrored Emily’s current situation, as if I needed to have the parallels drawn for me. While some situations and emotions were overblown, I was surprised that there was only a lukewarm chemistry between Spike and Emily. Oh, their irritation was evident, but when things shifted to romance it felt insincere and baseless.

The last several pages of Me and Mr. Darcy were dedicated to somehow convincing me to overlook some pretty wobbly loose ends. Apparently, I am supposed to ignore the fact that Mr. Darcy’s magic act and Ms. Steane’s motives are never fully explained. Um. I don’t think so. Give Emily a brain tumor or something, but don’t tell me that I need to just “believe in something incredible” and expect that to stand.

I suppose the point to Miss Potter's remake, is that while real men can never measure up to Mr. Darcy, Mr. Darcy could never measure up to a real man. Likewise, this book cannot hope to compare with the real Pride and Prejudice. While the swearing and crass commentary was enough for me to check this book off the list of novels I’d recommend to my mother, it was the disappearing Darcy and the lack of genuine chemistry that had me chucking it off my recommend list altogether.

My Rating: 2.75 Stars.  And at least .5 of that is just because I liked seeing myself in print.
 
For the sensitive reader:   Plenty of four letter words, references to diety, and crass commentary.   

Sum it up:  A weak, and loosely-based, remake of a classic bestseller.

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