A retelling of the Jane Austen novel ‘Pride and Prejudice’, ‘Dear Mr Darcy’, is written completely in letters, supposedly sent by Austen’s characters whilst the events of the classic story are going on.
‘Dear Mr Darcy’ actually begins in 1795, the year Darcy’s father dies, and four years before Darcy meets Eliza Bennet. I thoroughly enjoyed this section of the book; it was lovely to read a lead-up to the ‘Pride and Prejudice’ story proper. I especially liked the letters written by Caroline Bingley, the archetypal social climber, and one of my all-time favourite literary characters. The musings of Mr Collins were also very entertaining, and had me really laughing in places, particularly when he describes his dealings with the wonderful Lady Catherine de Burgh.
Unfortunately, when I got to the part of the tale that takes place in Jane Austen’s novel, I’m afraid I became a little bored. I know the story so well, and although this book was well-written, it just couldn’t compare to the Austen original for me. I also thought it a little unlikely that someone as reserved as Mr Darcy would reveal as much of his feelings as he does in some of his letters here. I appreciate that he’s writing to his dearest friends and family, but the Darcy I know wouldn’t give away nearly as much.
My interest was definitely recaptured by this tale’s finale. Grange goes a little further than Austen, and includes details of what Austen had herself planned for the futures of some of the characters. This was an unexpected bonus and I loved it.
The author clearly knows her Austen and her history very well. ‘Dear Mr Darcy’ contains several references to Nelson and England’s battles with the French at the time the book is set; these were a lovely addition, and a very appropriate topic for the male characters especially to be discussing.
Amanda Grange has produced a very thorough and thoughtful retelling of Jane Austen’s much adored ‘Pride and Prejudice’. I liked exploring some of Austen’s characters in more detail and I particularly enjoyed the little snatches of historical details that are scattered throughout. The inclusion of some of Austen’s own plans for the future of her protagonists was delightful and is sure to please many Austen fans.
3 and a half stars