Last year I found myself wanting to explore Jane Austen as an author to try to see for myself why so many people seem to adore her, but I could never put my finger on why. I did come up with a satisfying answer for myself, not only was she witty, but her characters (the most popular one I found to be Mr. Darcy), like any good storyteller's would, had the power to ensnare. And yes, I have been thoroughly ensnared by that delightfully brooding, Mr. Darcy.
I've now found myself caught in the whole Jane-Austen-lover-for-life thing. Though to be honest, the only book I've read which was written by the lady herself, is Pride and Prejudice. I did go out and buy the Barnes & Noble edition of her complete books, and also the short story collection: Jane Austen Made Me Do It. Purchases in which I had absolutely no hesitations in making. I look forward to finally getting to them sometime this year.
I read five Jane-related books, you may notice a Darcy theme. And thankfully, finally, I am now getting around to sharing my thoughts on them:
Jane Hayes is a young Austen fan lucky enough to be sent to an English resort that will give her the ultimate Austen-esque experience. Complete with Regency Era dress and Gentlemen alike. After her arrival however, she finds herself struggling to play the part of a regency lady and cannot seem to tell the difference between what's real, and what isn't. I have to admit, I didn't really enjoy this book all that much. Not just because it was the first book I began with in trying to understand the fandom, I just couldn't really seem to connect with the lead character. I suppose she was likable enough, but I wish I knew more about her than her trouble with meeting a man she liked, and her obsession for Mr. Darcy. Hardly any of the other characters had any depth as well. I'm sure a more dedicated Austen fan would enjoy this, though. I guess I just wished for a little more detail and length with this book. However, I found out that there is a sequel of sorts in which I am looking more forward to. (Midnight in Austenland) It looks more promising, and just because I didn't like one book from this author doesn't necessarily mean I won't like the next. I think Austenland was a good starting point, I have higher hopes for the next visit.
Even though this is the only re-telling of Pride and Prejudice I have read, so far, I think this one will always be my favorite by far. I really loved seeing the events that took place through Mr. Darcy's eyes. Not only is it true to the original, it's refreshing in it's own way. I really felt I got to know Mr. Darcy better through this book. There's definitely more depth to him here, along with a greatly paced story. There was no useless filler to what occupied him while he was away from Elizabeth and others. It was certainly a believable account of a gentleman's diary - getting a peek inside of this character's head was quite pleasant. He really is more of a well rounded character for me now thanks to this book. Not only did Amanda Grange take on Mr. Darcy, it seems she takes on all of the other Austen heroes as well, in her Jane Austen Heroes series. I am looking forward to reading these other books - if I like the heroes enough of course. :)
Emily Albright finds herself on a Jane Austen tour in the English countryside after she decides she's had it with real men, she'd rather curl up with Pride and Prejudice and Mr. Darcy instead. While on said tour, with a little bit of magic, Emily finds herself face to face with the real Mr. Darcy, but unfortunately for Emily, she also finds herself face to face with an ill-tempered journalist; Spike Hargreaves, who is there to find out why women have voted fictional Mr. Darcy the "Man Most Women Would Love to Date." I found this one...sort of amusing. There were a lot of characters doing and saying a lot of things, and with all of the little background stories the author gave, I found it a little hard to keep up with who was who with all of those little useless details. I suppose though that it was an attempt at some character development, but for me, there was just too many people running around in this book. Not to mention the displeasing view I got of Mr. Darcy in this book. I didn't like him in this story. Perhaps a more dedicated Austen fan would like this book, because I didn't.
When Claire Prescott decides to help out her sister when she (her sister) can't make it to a summer symposium at Oxford, she has no idea how much her life-path will be affected in one innocent little summer when she gets there. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting from this book when I started reading it, but it took a completely different path than what the synopsis led me to believe to take place. While out exploring, Claire meets a mysterious acting woman who claims she has a lost manuscript - of the original Pride and Prejudice, in which Lizzie ends up with someone other than Mr. Darcy. I had much the same reaction Claire did in this book: unbelievable. I mean come on, no Lizzie and Mr. Darcy? Horrifying. (At least for a total Darcy lover like myself.) While there she also meets a man (and honestly I can't remember his name!), who seems to have an interest in her, and Claire finds herself very much in-like with him until her boyfriend shows up, and suddenly Claire doesn't know what she wants out of life. Minus the irksome not-quite-right synopsis, I really liked this book. While there were also plenty of other characters in this story, I didn't feel overwhelmed by their presence in the story. I don't want to spoil the ending, so all I will say is that Claire does find the right path.
Well, I think the title pretty much says it all (don't you just hate that? I know I do.) Mr. Darcy is a vampire. And not a very appealing one at that. Even though I really liked Mr. Darcy's Diary by this same author, I didn't enjoy this one as much. I liked how it picked up right where Pride and Prejudice left off, but what I didn't like was Lizzie throughout the whole book. She just didn't seem like the Lizzie I remembered from the original. I also didn't like how it took her FOREVER to realize that Mr. Darcy was not a normal man. The ending felt rushed to me, and the only sweet part I found about that was that he was able to break free of his curse and they could then go on and be together freely and he no longer had to be afraid of hurting Lizzie or scaring her away from him. The whole book felt very Gothic really, which was something I didn't care for at the time. I haven't really much else to say about this read, only that it wasn't really what I expected/hoped.