Reading My Dearest Mr. Darcy was like being welcomed into the home of dear friends who I have come to know over a series of 3 books. The fact that the home was Pemberley made it that much better.
Blurb from Amazon.com: "Darcy is more deeply in love with his wife than ever. As the golden summer draws to a close and the Darcys look ahead to the end of their first year of marriage, Mr. Darcy could never have imagined his love could grow even deeper with the passage of time…
Lizzy is full of surprises…Elizabeth is unpredictable and lively, pulling Darcy out of his stern and serious demeanor with her teasing and temptation. Looking ahead and planning for celebrations and life events large and small, Lizzy can still catch Darcy unawares when he least expects it… But surprising events force the Darcys to weather absence and illness, and to discover whether they can find a way to build a bond of everlasting love and desire…"
Revisit vs. Rehash: B
Nit Picky Little Things: A
Wonderful Moments: A+
The Moment I was Hooked: B
Language: Pleasant and flowing. I had to grab my dictionary a few times - but I like that. (Just in case I ever get another chance at the SAT, I gotta stay sharp).
Characterization: Elizabeth and Darcy are finishing their first year of marriage and are still learning to be husband and wife. I like how Lathan injects moments of misunderstanding and pride into their mostly blissful relationship. It adds tension into a story line where you already know the guy wins the girl. Even though I love the romantic notion of riding off into the sunset together, I kinda like the idea that they may, at some point, argue about where they parked the horse.
Elizabeth's transition into becoming "Mrs. Dacy" to her new peers, her old friends from home, her staff and those who depend on her for their living is interesting to see both in books 2 and 3. All does not go smoothly.
Dr. George Darcy continues to play an important role in the story line as well as offer a lot of humor. He fits so well into narrative that I consider him one of Jane Austen's own that she just never mentioned. Lathan uses Dr. Darcy and Lady Underwood, etc, to reveal to the reader much information about medicine, social structure and politics during Regency England. Who is Lady Underwood? Just part of my favorite scene in the book.
Plot: The book begins with journal entries by Dr. Darcy that reach back to his arrival during the middle of book 2. However, it is interlaced so with new details and perspectives, that I couldn't find any bit that I would suggest to leave out. The journal entries are followed by a series of letters from Jane, Mr. Bennet, Mary and Lydia. It is interesting to start the book this way because letters do play an important role in Pride and Prejudice. They are also a very important way that much of Jane Austen's personal life is revealed to us today. (I believe it was Sense and Sensibility that was originally written as a series of letters back and forth between the sisters.)
However, when chapter 3 began, that is when I felt the like the story really got started. The tone is set right away was romantic. I think I awwww'd right out loud.
Much of the story finds the Darcys traveling. Mrs. Lathan packed in so much detail about the local areas and the historic sites that they saw, I think I could use this book as a travel guide. I don't know if the details are accurate, but as long as Mr. Darcy is reciting them to me, who cares?
There are illnesses and separations. All in all, the plot moves quickly and a lot of it is driven by dialogue. I like that.
Revisit vs. Rehash: In my vocabulary - a revisit is reminding the reader of information already known to him but usually shedding light on it (such as a new point of view or details). The beginning of the book is a revisit of past events via Dr. Darcy's journal entries. While it isn't my favorite way to begin a book , it was a very effective way to give the reader a lot of information at one time.
Nit Picky Little Things: Just this one, little thing....Darcy and Elizabeth have a lot of amorous moments. A few paragraphs about it, and I thought, "Good for them." A page of description and Darcy's copious praise of Elizabeth and I thought, "O.k, you guys get a room." A couple of pages later and I was thinking..."You have a room and I am trapped in it with you." However, this information may be the tipping point to get some people to read the books. And I will say, I have read a few follow ups that have completely ignored this portion of the Darcys relationship and those books have been a snooze fest. Alright...so, um...never mind.
Wonderful Moments: As I have said in previous Sharon Lathan book reviews, I think one of Lathan's strong points is the ability to continue generating these wonderful moments; both big and small. Darcy as a tour guide, "Anywhere but East," the pearls, swimming...I could go on but I don't want to give these scenes all away. My big criticism of Lathan's first book, that it was inspired by the Kiera Knightly 2005 Pride and Prejudice movie, turns out to be an asset. I believe Lathan writes as if she were continuing the movie - in a very visual way. She doesn't just take you from big scene to big scene, but pays attention to the characters on the way there.
Originality: When most other Pride and Prejudice follow up authors are finishing their works and writing what happens to the characters down the road in an epilogue, Sharon Lathan is finishing off book 4 (available this month, October 2010. I plan to review it later this week.) Lathan's originality is in the detail and depth of her story. I don't know where Darcy and Elizabeth are headed, but I want to be there for it.
The Moment I Was Hooked: This is like asking, "When did you decide you liked Return of the Jedi?" If you are reading (or seeing) the third installment, you are pretty much on board. I really sank into the story in Chapter 3. The use of the flashback mixed with the new scene made me feel connected. And warm. And fuzzy. Like a big comforter. (O.k, so I might need to work on my analogies before taking that 3rd swing at the SAT's).
I have read this series 4 times. As someone who was very sceptical of the inspiration during the first book, I found myself unable to stop reading long enough to review these books individually. I think that is really the best sort of recommendation.
If this book were a movie, it would be rated R for how often ardently Darcy and Elizabeth love each other.
In 2007, the third book in the series was released under the name: The Darcys at Years End. (See picture below) It is a massive, 500 pager. (I have this version and that is why I used the blurb from Amazon.com instead of from the back of the book). In 2010, the third book of the series was re-released as My Dearest Mr. Darcy: An Amazing Journey into Love Everlasting, which I have just reviewed.
The last 150 pages were taken for the original 3rd book and added to the beginning fo the 4th book, In the Arms of Mr. Darcy. The journal entries that ended the 3rd book were done away with and a few bits were re-edited.
If you are borrowing this book from the library and you read the 2007 version, The Darcy's at Year's End, just know that you will see some of the same information repeated in book 4. If you are buying the books, I suggest the re-released versions from 2010. I really like the tweaking Lathan did. And, the 500 pager is massive and hard to hold in the bath tub.
All of this I found through extensive research of standing in Barnes and Noble, comparing the two copies...while hoping my 3 boys didn't act too terribly much like puppies in the fiction section. (Always underfoot and yet just out of reach). The 2007 version can be found here.