Kara Louise: Only Mr Darcy Will Do

This truly is one of the most horrific re-imaginings of Pride and Prejudice that we have stumbled across from its ghastly cover art to its puerile content. Its mere existence suggests an insatiable North American market of saccharine copyright infringement.

Broadly, the Pride and Prejudice ‘sequels’ either re-write the narrative from the ‘indefinite adjournment of the relationship’ or are a continuation after marriage. This falls in the former category. In the interim, Mr Bennet has died, The Collinses have inherited Longbourn and Lizzy has reduced her station to that of governess. The American obsession with the English Governess knows no bounds. Let us just ignore the fact that however miserable ‘genteel poverty’ may have been it was unseemly for gentlewomen to work particularly in the few fields open to women such as domestic service and teaching. Lizzy’s pecuniary situation would not be such to reduce her to servant. Even the critical Lady Catherine de Bourgh does not deign to suggest to Elizabeth that she ‘placed’ out to a family.

Where oh where are the copyright lawyers? There must be a checklist in writing sequels as we have lost track of the number of times that Darcy and Lizzy engage wits over a battle of chess or that some natural disaster triggers Darcy into action.

What was truly offensive about this book was the lack of research that Louise (assuming this is a pseudonym) engaged in. “Hello Ladies” seems to be a favourite phrase of her Darcy. Repeated often, this Darcy is rendered sleazy. Let us not start that ‘hello’ was not a greeting used in Regency England.

Far worse was the failure to recognise what a monumental scandal elopement was. Louise in some attempt of originality has jettisoned the original characters and substituted her own. Elizabeth would not tell all and sundry of her sister’s disgrace as it would materially ruin her family and her own prospect of marriage. She certainly would not be confiding in acquaintances of so short a standing i.e.her employers the Willstones and casual associates the Ketterlings. This is why it so significant in Pride and Prejudice that Elizabeth informs Darcy of the elopement and why Mr and Mrs Gardiner assume an ‘understanding’ exists between them.

At times, it was like reading a really really bad Mills and Boon, ‘the licking of the lips’ and ‘wild beating of the heart’ etc. Only Mr Darcy Will Do bordered on being in the ‘so bad its good’ category but fell short. Give this one the flick though others may disagree with this assessment.

(2008: ISBN: 13-978-1-4022-4103-1)

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