Darcy's Passions by Regina Jeffers is a retelling of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. And then some.
Summary from the back of the book:
"Witty, romantic and insightful, Darcy's Passions captures the original style and sardonic humor ofJane Austen's Pride and Prejudice turning the entire story on its head. Written from the perspective of Fitzwilliam Darcy, this novel tells his version of an improbable, even obsessive relationship with a most impossible woman - Elizabeth Bennet...."
Language: Jeffers admits up front that she does not try to maintain the language found in Austen's original work. Personally, I like to see the author at least give it a try. Overall, the normalcy of the language doesn't detract from the story telling. There were a few moments here and there when my concentration was broken by just how regular the phrases were. (EX: Maybe Bingly really would call something lame back then, but the current trendiness of the word makes it feel like a poor choice.)
Characterization: Jeffers states in her opening (which is worth reading) that she was inspired by Austen, the 1996 BBC/A&E movie with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle, and the more recent 2005 movie featuring Kira Knightly and Matthew Macfadyen. Once the couple is engaged, there are still 155 pages left in the book. I think a lot of fans will be very gratified by hearing more about the engagement, the marriage and the few months afterwards. However, once Elizabeth said yes...it felt like there was a shift from a Colin Firth Mr. Darcy to a Matthew Macfadyen Mr. Darcy. There is a lot of introspection and talking about feelings, vulnerability. I mean, it was nice and you think how wonderful to get to hear this and then....good grief, this goes on for pages! They talk about their relationship with each other and then with the other characters and then think about it.......They were proud and prejudiced. Got it.
It felt like when the romantic male lead in a comedy says something sensitive and gets misty eyed. It is touching. If he crosses that line and starts blubbering like a little girl...you think....how much longer does this movie last?
The good thing is that Jeffers does keep the plot moving as these emotions are all revisited.
Another thing to note is that the relationships between Bingly, Georgianna and Darcy are portrayed as closer and more symbiotic than you feel on the surface of Pride and Prejudice. We know that Darcy has mentioned Elizabeth to his sister when they finally meet. So this additional information fits.
I also like that not all the characters have a turn for the better as some versions would have you believe. I would have liked to have heard from Mrs. Bennet more. But that is because, unlike her relations, I never tire of hearing about her nerves.
Plot: The plot follows Jane Austen's very closely with a few extra events tossed in. I really enjoyed the plot for the majority of the book. As I mentioned before, there are 155 pages after Darcy and Elizabeth become engaged. Jeffers does an excellent job of keeping the plot moving in both of her books. I appreciate that. It keeps my attention. And that movement is aided by a lot of dialog - which I also enjoy. I'd much rather feel as though I am experiencing things with the characters instead of being told about them by the author.
My issues with the plot, as with the characterization, happen after the engagement when the Kira Knightly / Matthew Macfayden movie's influence feels like it kicks in. There are 2 scenes that are referred to that I think happened exclusively in that movie version. I have a great ability, as my husband will vouch for, to loose myself in books, movies and tv shows. I had to stop watching ER when I was pregnant with my 1st son because I cried every time George Clooney lost a child. (And lets face it, he lost a lot of them. I can't believe people let him treat their kids with his record.) I am always on the side of the author and want to loose myself in the story. However, I don't care for being jolted out of that warm, dreaminess by things like the references to, what I consider to be, a lesser movie version. Wow. That sounded harsh. Like I said, if you like that movie, you will really enjoy this book.
Rehash or revisit: No rehashing or revisiting, as it is a retelling of the original Pride and Prejudice.
I was hooked by: I always review a book for that moment when I was hooked. When I stopped making notes in the margin, underlining words and just let myself sink into the story. I can usually tell because it is when I start looking forward to reading each evening. Chapter 3, which was only 29 pages in, was it. Not the best, but far from the worst. Considering there are 24 chapters and 385 pages, that is pretty good.
Nit picky things: The second half of the book had the word chuckled in it way too much. That is pretty nit picky of me....but it is the category.
Wonderful little moments: The letters back and forth between the brother and sister Darcy are entertaining and revealing. I love their conversations about Caroline Bingly and her interrupting their letter writing.
Also, reading the introduction by Jeffers about the names she selected for certain characters and her passion for Austen is very endearing.
Originality: By far, the most intimate in sharing of feelings of any of the retellings I have read. I don't think the story is turned on its head as the book jacket tells you (Lost In Austen can probably claim that title) but I don't really want a retelling to be turned on its head. I want it to feel familiar enough so that I buy into the new portions of the story. The originality is in the level of sharing and discussing feelings. If you like that sort of thing:)
There are a few plot twists that feel familiar if you have read other sequels. But you forgive them because they fit so well into the plot and are well told.
If this book were a movie - it would be rated R due to marital passion.
Overall, I liked the book more than I didn't like the book. I give it a B. It is a must read before reading the sequel to it, Darcy's Dreams, which I really enjoyed. Of the 3 retellings of Pride and Prejudice I have read, it ranks as #3. In all fairness, though, it might have ranked higher had I read it earlier. I did tend to pick on the same issue over and over again. If you think that wouldn't bother you, then you will enjoy the book a great deal.