Monday, October 12, 2009

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview: A Review, An Overview and a Giveaway!

*disclaimer....I received this book from Sourcebooks as a Review Copy*

Back Blurb: When Caroline Bingley collapses to the floor and sobs at Mr. Darcy's weeding, imaginer her humiliation to discover that a stranger has witnessed her emotional display. Miss Bingley, understandably, resents this unknown gentleman very much, even if he is Mr. Darcy's American cousin.
Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find a beautiful young woman weeping broken-heartedly at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's love at first sight. Alas, regaining her good graces seems an impossible mission, and he is left to hope that someday their paths will cross again...

My thoughts on The Other Mr. Darcy...hmm...I admit it's a bit of a conundrum for me. I hated Caroline Bingley in Pride & Predjudice. Hated her with a passion. I thought she was an obnoxious spoiled brat and that Mr. Darcy was lucky to have escaped her clutches. So, I'm surprised that Ms. Fairview not only got me to sympathize with her, but to actually kind of like her.

Not to say that she's a completely different person in this book. Oh, not at all. She's still an obnoxious, spoiled brat. However, she's humanized in this book in a way that she wasn't in P&P.

After Fitzwilliam & Lizzy marry, Caroline runs to the privacy of another room and bursts into hysterical tears. She knows her chances with Mr. Darcy are dead and gone, devastating her to her core. What she doesn't realize is that her hysterics are witnessed by someone else. Of course, when she finds out that he's in the room with her, she freaks out and basically makes an idiot of herself.

And thus begins the courtship of Caroline Bingley & Robert Darcy. To say that this book was easy to read would be a lie. Caroline really did bother me throughout 99% of the book. It seemed like her bratty behavior was going to ruin something that would be the best thing for her. It wasn't until the very end that she got her comeuppance and realized just what she would be missing in her life.

The book was well-written, pretty entertaining and more of a historical-romantic view of the P&P world. All in all, I truly did enjoy it. If you liked Caroline Bingley, this is definitely the book for you. If you like the idea of Caroline Bingley getting her comeuppance AND falling in love...this is also the book for you. :)

Overall Grade: B-

Below is a piece written by the author, as well as her picture. You can win a copy of The Other Mr. Darcy (US & Canada only...)

Monica Fairview Guest Blog, author of The Other Mr. Darcy

Picture a young teen who is enamored of Pride and Prejudice. Not just Mr Darcy and Miss Bennet, but of the Bennets, Mr Collins, Lady Catherine, and the Bingleys. Picture this teen growing up and reading and rereading Pride and Prejudice, and, like many people, trying to imagine what happens beyond that quiet affirmation of love at the end. Then finally, a story takes shape, one that isn’t about Mr Darcy and Miss Bennet, but about one of the characters that has been consigned to the corner. Lo and behold, The Other Mr. Darcy is born.

In some ways, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is part of me. I’ve known it for so long it feels like part of my growing up. Though I should say I’m definitely the odd person out, because I don’t think Jane Austen’s success in Pride and Prejudice is only about the romance. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Darcy & Elizabeth part of the novel. But I also love the other parts. I can hear Mrs Bennet’s histrionic fits in my head. I can see Mr Bennet smiling sardonically (In fact, I have an uncle that is quite a bit like him). I love the chaos and disorder the Bennets bring to the well-regulated society around them. I love their sheer unconventionality (for that time), and I think, despite Elizabeth’s typical teen embarrassment about her family, Elizabeth could never have grown to be who she is without them.

So when I came to write my Austenesque sequel, I knew it wasn’t simply going to be about Elizabeth and Darcy. Elizabeth and Darcy are in there, but it’s not their story. It’s the story of a character who is (in my view of things) unfairly represented in the novel. I feel that everyone takes her at face value, and very few people notice that even Elizabeth gives her a break later in the novel. In Chapter 45 Elizabeth knows she is intruding on Caroline at Pemberley, and she is able to put herself in her rival’s situation: “Convinced as Elizabeth now was that Miss Bingley’s dislike of her had originated in jealousy, she could not help feeling how very unwelcome her appearance at Pemberley must be to (Caroline).” Elizabeth recognizes here that she has been unfair to Caroline. Which is really my starting point, because if Caroline’s behaviour wasn’t really typical, and has been motivated by jealousy, then I want to know more about what she is really like when she doesn’t feel threatened. Who hasn’t behaved badly in a fit of jealousy?

I was aware, of course, that I was treading new ground even thinking that way. And then, by introducing an American Darcy who is quite patriotic in his way, despite having roots in England. But I wasn’t trying to depart from Austen. I was trying to introduce new factors and a new angle into her familiar world and see what would happen.

I couldn’t wait to see how the Bennets were going to react to the new situations they were encountering, especially Mrs Bennet and Lydia. I carefully studied the novel before I started, looking at their speech patterns so I could follow the way they talked as closely as possible, while at the same time using my own language. Of course, they couldn’t say the things they already said, not unless they were stuck in a loop. But I tried my best not to let them say anything that was out of character. I asked myself throughout the process of writing The Other Mr. Darcy: what would they typically say in such a situation?

But because the situation is new, even if the characters are doing what they typically would be doing, they are bound to change. After all, I didn’t want them to be simply people from someone else’s novel. I wanted to bring them to life, to move them on, to live up to the new experiences they are dealing with. Elizabeth and Darcy have to respond to Miss Bingley in a different way now, and Darcy’s response is, I think, typical in that his family pride kicks in when faced with an uncomfortable situation. Mrs Bennet’s reactions in a crisis are typical, too, but we see a slightly different side of her that perhaps was unexpected. And of course, Caroline undergoes a long journey, both physically and psychologically, before she can become the new person she’s destined to be.

It’s a fine line, because one can easily go too far and make the people of Pride and Prejudice unrecognizable in the new novel. Writing an Austen-inspired novel is like walking a tightrope. You’re in the middle of the rope. Behind you, you have Pride and Prejudice, with its brilliant characters, its exquisitely polished style, and its sharp wit. In front of you, at the other end of the tightrope, you have your unfinished novel. It’s a thin line to cross, but you’ve got to do it if you want to get to the end.

Above all, I think, it’s about not setting yourself up to rival Pride & Prejudice, because you can’t, of course, not even in your wildest dreams. To think so would be arrogance of the worst type, the type Mr Darcy was guilty of at the beginning of the novel. The Other Mr. Darcy is simply some kind of continuation, some kind of tribute to a writer who has brought me so much joy. In more than one sense, it is ultimately about love.

The Other Mr. Darcy—in stores October 2009!
Did you know that Mr. Darcy had an American cousin?!

In this highly original Pride and Prejudice sequel by British author Monica Fairview, Caroline Bingley is our heroine. Caroline is sincerely broken-hearted when Mr. Darcy marries Lizzy Bennet— that is, until she meets his charming and sympathetic American cousin...

Mr. Robert Darcy is as charming as Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy is proud, and he is stunned to find the beautiful Caroline weeping at his cousin's wedding. Such depth of love, he thinks, is rare and precious. For him, it's nearly love at first sight. But these British can be so haughty and off-putting. How can he let the young lady, who was understandably mortified to be discovered in such a vulnerable moment, know how much he feels for and sympathizes with her?

About the Author
As a literature professor, Monica Fairview enjoyed teaching students to love reading. But after years of postponing the urge, she finally realized what she really wanted was to write books herself. She lived in Illinois, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Colorado, Oregon and Boston as a student and professor, and now lives in London. To find out more, please visit


monica fairview said...

I'm very glad, Lady of Review, that despite hating Caroline with a passion in Pride and Prejudice, you came to sympathize with her, kind of like her, and see her human side in The Other Mr Darcy, *and* enjoy the book as well. That's certainly a tribute!

Thank you for reviewing the book and hosting me here.

Laura Hartness said...

Looking forward to reading this one! If you're still hosting the book giveaway, I'd love to be entered. Can't seem to find the instructions, though. Thanks!