Sunday, July 25, 2010

Book Review: To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

From the back cover:

WHAT IF…
Instead of disappearing from Elizabeth Bennet’s life after she refused his offer of marriage, Mr. Darcy had stayed and tried to change her mind?


WHAT IF…
Lizzy, as she gets to know Darcy, finds him undeniably attractive and her impulses win out over her sense of propriety?


WHAT IF…
Madly in love and mutually on fire, their passion anticipates their wedding?

In
To Conquer Mr. Darcy, instead of avoiding Elizabeth after his ill-fated marriage proposal, Mr. Darcy follows her back to her home in Hertfordshire, planning to prove to her his a changed man and worthy of her love.  And little by little, Elizabeth begins to find the man she despised irresistible…

*          *          *
To Conquer Mr. Darcy
Pride and Prejudice fans, have you ever been frustrated with Darcy’s condescending marriage proposal to Elizabeth Bennet in Hunsford?  While many wouldn’t question Miss Austen’s choice of plot development, the thought of re-writing the events proceeding Hunsford has probably occurred to more than one creative writer.  Abigail Reynolds has put this speculation to paper in To Conquer Mr. Darcy, available from Sourcebooks on August 3, 2010.


Reynolds’ imagining of the events picks up in June after Darcy’s proposal.  His demeanor is quite sullen and distant, even toward his beloved staff at Pemberley, with whom he is normally open and friendly. Miss Bennet’s rejection of him has clearly taken a toll.  As the story continues, we find Darcy pursuing Lizzy once again, although in a much more overt manner.  In meeting him again, she finds that he has become a far different man from the one she had known previously.  Some of the results of this tale may be similar to what we found in the original Austen text.  However, the ways in which these characters progress are far beyond Austen indeed.

As I began To Conquer Mr. Darcy, I enjoyed seeing my favorite characters again and I was pleased with the way in which Ms. Reynolds portrayed them.  Their personalities rang true to the original story and their manners fit in with Austen’s Regency-era England. The language was appropriate in style, but it was more readable for today’s audience.  For the first few chapters I was very satisfied with how things were progressing.

Then for a long portion of the book (predominantly the courtship of Darcy and Elizabeth) my opinion changed.  I even hesitate to term Darcy’s pursuit of Lizzie as courting, when the more accurate description of his behavior would be outright seduction.  I began to feel as if I was reading a flimsy romance novel, the kind in which we might find a Fabio-like leading man splayed on the cover.  For some readers this might be an attractive draw, but for me it wasn’t.  The characters became far more forward and passionate; the particulars of their relationship were detailed and intimate. As a reader, I just don’t need all of that.  Passion and romance can be conveyed differently, where “less is more” might be the line to pursue.

Interestingly enough, after Darcy and Elizabeth marry the fine details of their romantic life decrease significantly.  I was pleased to see that Ms. Reynolds did convey the message that the spouses were still madly in love with each other.  The state of marriage had not squelched this, as is frequently portrayed in other books and films.  Yet I find it interesting that the majority of the racy content wasn’t saved for the marriage bed.

As the story continued, the characters also had to deal with interesting and sometimes difficult life events.  These final sections improved my enjoyment of the book, as I appreciated the characters more and cared about the outcomes of a number of situations.  In fact, I found the final chapter to be quite touching and gratifying.

To Conquer Mr. Darcy
is not something that I can heartily recommend.  I could have done without the racy content that dominated the majority of the book’s center.  However, I enjoyed the start of the novel as well as its beautiful, moving conclusion.  Abigail Reynolds is an accomplished writer, and it’s clear that she’s writing for a particular audience. It just seems that the audience to which I belong is in a different place.


This title was provided to me by Sourcebooks Landmark. No obligation other than an honest review was required.
To Conquer Mr. Darcy was previously published under the title Impulse & Initiative.



**GIVEAWAY CONTEST**

Guidelines for entering to win my advanced copy of To Conquer Mr. Darcy:

  • Leave a comment below; this counts as your entry.
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm on Saturday, August 7th
  • Open to U.S. addresses only.
  • Make sure at least one posted comment includes your email address. If you'd rather not have your email posted here, you may contact me directly to give me that information after you've entered here.
  • I will compile the entries and the winner will be chosen by Random.org, so even one entry can make you a winner!
  • Should you win, I will contact you on Sunday the 8th.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message! (CalicoCritic@gmail.com) You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • Note: As this is a pre-published copy, the cover has the working title Conquering Mr. Darcy.
  • More information on the giveaway policies can be found on the Contact / Policies page.

Bonus Entries

Please make note of all your bonus entries in your comment(s).  You may post separate comments or a single large comment.  Here are your bonus entry options:

  • Follow The Calico Critic by clicking on the Google "Follow" button on my sidebar (old or new followers both get the bonus entry, just please let me know that you're following).
  • Follow me (@LHartness) on Twitter and tell me your @UserName.
  • Tweet about this ARC giveaway on Twitter.com; be sure to use an URL linking back to this blog posting in your tweet. You may do this as frequently as every 8 hours between now and August 7th at 11:59pm EST.  For each tweet, please come back and post the direct URL link to that specific tweet, not just your @Username.


That's it!  Thanks for stopping by, and good luck to all the entrants!












CymLowell



22 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review Laura! Doesn't sound like a book I would enjoy. I'm not big on racy content.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Jeannette:

    Yeah, it's a shame, really. Because otherwise Abigail's writing is really well done! Thanks for stopping by.

    Laura

    ReplyDelete
  3. New Readers:

    Come join our group on Facebook-- members receive an automatic message whenever a giveaway is posted!

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?sk=lf#!/group.php?gid=285333505029&ref=ts

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks for the chance!
    aleksa91 hotmail

    ReplyDelete
  5. Great review!

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm a google follower.

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Thanks for the opportunity!
    rmattos at optonline dot net

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am also following you -> Roberto Mattos
    You can follow me back at http://booksandmoviesreviews.blogspot.com...:)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I am following you on twitter. You can follow me back @rmattos

    ReplyDelete
  10. This book does sound interesting. Thank you for posting on Goodread!
    bookmomofap@myself.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Would like a chance to win.
    cparkins14 AT teancum.net

    ReplyDelete
  12. Dont count me in as I am overseas but it was sad to see this with restrictions. Would be a gorgeous book.

    ReplyDelete
  13. would enjoy reading this novel...thanks for the chance :)

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  14. Would love to win.

    Bonus entry: I follow on Twitter @mybookviews

    mybookviews[at]gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  15. Nicole:

    That would be cool if you did win, as you just awarded me a treat from your site! :)

    Thanks again!

    Laura

    ReplyDelete
  16. No need to enter me.
    Good and honest review. It seems like she should have saved some racy bits for after the marriage. Shame the middle stunk, but you finished it anyway? Good for you :)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Jenny:

    Yeah, that's what I found amusing. Both before and after the marriage the characters were shown to be passionately in love, but it was predominantly before the marriage that the racy content was used.

    And as far as finishing it anyway... as a reviewer for Sourcebooks, I feel that it's my obligation to read the text in full in order to give an accurate review. And I'm glad I finished, as the ending was beautiful.

    Thanks for stopping by and for your comment!

    Laura

    ReplyDelete
  18. I actually think it'd be interesting to see a book like this with some raciness.

    lovemybabysquid at yahoo dot com

    ReplyDelete
  19. I follow on twitter.
    @greatmasteryoda

    ReplyDelete
  20. Here's my tweet and FB post.

    http://twitter.com/greatmasteryoda/status/20554252541

    http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/cathie.veres?v=wall&story_fbid=134918023216329

    ReplyDelete

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