In Sunday’s Snips and Clips I mentioned picking up Mr. Darcy, Vampyre and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. I have always been a firm believer in don’t knock it until you tried it. So I started reading Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange and it was slow going at first.
Pride and Prejudice: The Dark Sequel
The novel is based on the premise that Fitzwilliam Darcy, the hero of Pride and Prejudice is also a vampyre. That’s obvious from the title. The book begins with Elizabeth Bennett’s wedding to Mr. Darcy a joint venture as her sister Jane is marrying Mr. Bingely in the same ceremony. The girls are full of nervous anticipation. Grange’s use of the language is absolutely lucious. I was immediately transported to the world of Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice.
Unfortunately, the story lagged as much due to the language as to the pacing. The writing style that is so wildly Austen in flavor and texture is easy to digest, but we the reader, know from the beginning that Darcy has a secret. We even know what the secret is. So we spend a lot of time waiting to see how it will be revealed.
When the climax of the story is achieved it is vastly unsatisfying because the long, slow build has stimulated the senses and the tension to such an extreme that you want a lot more than what you get. Which to me was the ultimate disappointment. I won’t warn you off the book, I think it’s definitely worth reading, but I also felt like it could have just been so much more. If you are a fan of Pride and Prejudice, you will enjoy the Darcys, if you’re planning to read this because you really love vampire books — I wouldn’t.
Spoilers ahead if you continue.
The World According to Elizabeth Bennett
The novel is written resolutely from Elizabeth’s viewpoint. We see every event as it unfolds through her eyes. We also are intimately acquainted with her letters, her fears, her love and her tears. Her wedding day is everything she can imagine. She’s thrilled, she’s nervous and she’s a woman in love. But on their wedding night, Darcy doesn’t come to her. He eventually and abruptly changes their plans from spending the wedding tour in the lake district for taking a boat across the channel to France.
Elizabeth’s emotions run the gamut from excitement and joy to pained disappointment and longing. Night after night passes and Darcy never comes to her. She sleeps alone. She longs to be with him, yet he makes no move in that direction. During the day when they are together, he is attentive, loving and wonderful. Their journey takes them to the coast of France and then to Paris.
Many of Darcy’s acquaintances are shocked that he’s married and even more shocked about Elizabeth herself. Sadly, the old concerns from the original book rear their head as Elizabeth worries that Darcy feels he’s made a mistake. She knows he is harboring a dark secret, a deep concern and that he is consulting old friends and family about it. She worries that she is the source of the concern. After all, she had no dowry.
They leave France to travel to the Alps where they stay with a distant Uncle (Count Polidori) in a castle with no mirrors. Darcy and Elizabeth must abandon the castle suddenly when a mob attacks it and they ride frantically through the night. Eventually they make their way down to Italy and to Venice. And so it goes, on and on. Elizabeth meets all these new people, sees all these exotic places, but Darcy does not come to her.
Twice she nearly seems to seduce him, but he resists or they are interrupted. Eventually, a dark man tries to bespell Elizabeth in Venice and Darcy fights him off. The pursuit of this ancient dark vampyre adds a layer of tension not felt in the first half of the book. In fact, by the time we get to Venice and I was ready to throttle Darcy and Elizabeth. She’s so ill with worry and he’s so lovingly diffident that my personal level of frustration with the story just grew.
The big reveal comes near the total end of the novel and by then it feels rushed to conclusion and a not very satisfying conclusion at that. I think the greatest disappointment for me was that I fell in love with the language of the book, the viewpoints and the continuing adventures of Miss Elizabeth Bennett now Mrs. Darcy and her beloved that I wanted more than I got.
I am, however, very glad that I read it.
Cafe of Dreams offers a great interview with the author Amanda Grange.