Encouraged by how much I liked her Captain Wentworth's Diary, I bought a copy of Amanda Grange's Mr. Darcy's Diary. And found myself loathe to put it down. While I didn't like it quite as well as the former, I think that's mostly due to my preference for the story in Persuasion over the rest of Austen's novels. But this book was a delightful treat -- again, nothing terribly deep, certainly less nuanced than Pride & Prejudice itself, but enjoyable.
I think what I liked best about this was the emphasis on Mr. Darcy feeling challenged by Elizabeth Bennett, and his desire to show her he was equal to her wit and spirit. As the character himself puts it early on, "She had set herself up as my adversary, and I felt an instinct to conquer her rise up inside me" (p. 44). For Darcy, whose wealth, position, and temperament insured that things generally went the way he wanted, such a challenge must have been alluring indeed, and it really solved for me the question of why, against his better judgement and all that, he allowed himself to fall for her.
(Also, as a strong-willed girl, I respect a man who thinks he can conquer me. I can imagine Elizabeth might feel the same.)
Once again, the diary style is a little straining of the old credulity, though with Darcy being the writer of long letters (with that remarkably even hand that Caroline Bingley prized), it's not too hard to imagine him writing a detailed diary. Easier than with Wentworth, who would be used to the terser style of the ship's log. But once again, it hardly matters.
As Hannah said in her review of this on Reading in the Dark, it would have been nice to see a bit more of Darcy the businessman and land owner. However, that would probably have bogged the story down, and since this is supposed to be a retelling of P&P from Darcy's viewpoint, I can see why Grange didn't want to digress too much.
I've tried reading two or three other books about Darcy and/or Lizzy, and this is the first one that I have truly enjoyed and am glad to have on a shelf in my library.
Particularly Good Bits:
Bingley was, of course, delighted with everything he saw. he said how splendid it was and asked no sensible questions, but instead walked around with his hands behind his back as though he had lived there for the last twenty years. (p. 24-25)
Caroline looked astonished and then displeased, but my expression was so forbidding that she fell silent. Bingley might complain about my awful expressions, but they have their uses. (p. 67)
I felt a surge of satisfaction as I realized that Lydia will be just as silly as her mother, and I took enjoyment in the knowledge that Wickham will, after all, be punished for his iniquities, because he will have to live with her for the rest of his life. (p. 247)
If This was a Movie, I Would Rate it: PG for a very small amount of questionable language and behavior, consistent with Austen's original.
This is my third entry into the Pride and Prejudice Bicentenarey Challenge over on Austenprose.com.