TO CONQUER MR. DARCY by Abigail Reynolds
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?
When I read the above quote on the back cover of To Conquer Mr. Darcy, by Abigail Reynolds, I was eager to read it. I am a huge Jane Austen fan. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite work of hers. I love her writing style, the settings, and the way she created such three dimensional, strong heroines. These women didn’t have to be perfect, but they were all more than endearing. But probably the thing I enjoy most in her novels would have to be her leading men. She had a rare gift for creating absolutely swoon-worthy male characters. And we can thank her for giving us perhaps the ultimate fictional crush: Fitzwilliam Darcy.
Before I get into the review of the book itself, let me state for the record that I personally have no problem whatsoever with any novel that takes classic – dare I say sacred? – literary characters and then writes new adventures and romances for them to discover. I’ve read Gone with the Wind many, many times, and love it. But I also thoroughly enjoyed Scarlett, and Rhett Butler’s People. Sure, it didn’t sound exactly like Margaret Mitchell, but as I read those two books I was treated to many more hours of reading pleasure with characters that I hold dear.
I would have to say the same thing about To Conquer Mr. Darcy. With each page I turned, I lost myself in the world of William Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet. And it didn’t take much more than a few chapters until I no longer thought in terms of Austen’s voice or Ms. Reynolds’. I thought the latter did a superb job of keeping a very similar tone for the characters in her book that they had in the novel that first introduced them to us. It is obvious to me that Reynolds is a great admirer of Austen and knows her works inside and out. I thought she was very respectful in any liberties she took with the characters.
As for the story itself, you could describe it as Pride and Prejudice “with a twist”. It is told from Darcy’s point of view, rather than Elizabeth’s. Often, text is duplicated verbatim which helps keep the storyline true to what we already hold near and dear to our hearts. And as for that “twist” part? Let’s just say Lizzy and William aren’t quite as chaste in this version. As a modern day romance novelist, I really liked the fact one of my favorite fictional couples finally gives us a glimpse of what goes on between them when they’re alone.
If you are a fan of Jane Austen’s, I think you’d like this book. I will caution you that it was apparently previously released under another name, Impulse & Initiative. So if you look for other titles by the same author, there is a chance you could buy the exact same story twice.
For those out there who are Austen purists, well, it might not be their cup of tea. But we deal with remakes on television and in the movies all the time. Why not in books? I’m open minded enough to give a chance to a fellow writer who wants to spin a new take on an old, beloved tale. I did just that with To Conquer Mr. Darcy, and my reward was a great reading experience.