Thursday, November 12, 2009

Mr Darcy, Vampyre

Jane Austen’s regency masterpiece Pride and Prejudice is one of British literature’s most celebrated novels. It has often reimagined in many ways throughout the years. Whether it is a film version based on the novel, a retelling from Darcy’s point-of-view (which the author of this book has done previously with this and other Austen classics), a modernization ala Bridget Jones’ Diary, or a continuation following the weddings of Darcy to Elizabeth and Bingley to Jane, a retelling of the story is not an uncommon occurrence. The latest fad in Austen reimagination seems to be incorporating a mythical element. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies as well as Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters (which I want to read because the story of the Dashwood sisters is my favorite Jane Austen novel) are a few examples. Personally I’m waiting for Emma Woodhouse, Witch (Harry Potter reference number 3?) because a love potion is the only way that awful meddling twit Emma would end up with the wonderful Mr. Knightley.

Mr. Darcy, Vampire by Amanda Grange fits into this new type of revisit of Austen’s classic. With his pale skin, haughty personality, and handsome appearance (along with the current pop culture craze with vampires) it is no wonder Grange chose this mythical figure to represent Darcy, perhaps one of Austen’s most loved characters. It tells the story of what happens after Elizabeth and Darcy are married and also attempts to explain why Darcy is truly proud and unwilling to show an attraction to all women, including the darling Miss Elizabeth Bennett, he’s a blood-sucking vampire. Elizabeth and Darcy marry and embark on their wedding tour (honeymoon) to Europe. They visit Paris, the French countryside, the Alps, Venice, and the Italian countryside. Along the way they meet Darcy’s numerous friends and family who seem taken by Elizabeth’s beauty and while they seem to approve of the marriage express surprise that someone could have won over the consummate bachelor Fitzwilliam Darcy. There is however two bad run-ins with relatives including the infamous Lady Catherine who hunts the newlyweds down to express her dissatisfaction once again with their relationship and surprisingly Colonel Fitzwilliam who was so pleasant in Pride and Prejudice but now seems to disapprove of Elizabeth and their marriage.

However Elizabeth doesn’t know why they truly disapprove and why Darcy seems so aloof and uninterested. Elizabeth begins to get suspicious around page 200 and then is convinced that Darcy no longer loves her because they have yet to consummate their relationship and he seems to be uncomfortable around her. She confronts him on it and he merely says he has a secret that he can’t tell her, which explains why he cannot go to her in the way she wants (he’s a vampire cough cough). They have a fight and distraught Elizabeth convinces herself to leave and is aided by a friend of Darcy, an Italian Prince, with whom they are staying. By page 230 she begins to think about vampires thanks to a garlic necklace that she is randomly given, even though there are numerous previous clues which her lack of perceptiveness overlooked. On a related note, this book made me realize how truly unperceptive Elizabeth really is, even in Pride and Prejudice. Sure she’s well read and wants to marry for love making her a feminist before that really was acceptable, but she really isn’t very intelligent. She falls in love with Wickham, and falls for his charms despite him being not a very good guy and she refuses Darcy when he does propose to her the first time because she doesn’t realize that she loves him and she is too proud and prejudiced. Anyway, the action then truly heats up as she realizes she is not being helped but kidnapped by the Prince and one of his fellow guests.

I spent the entire novel wondering if and when Elizabeth is going to figure out that Mr. Darcy is a vampire. I wondered how she would take the news. Would she be terrified, excited, or turned on? Would he turn her into a vampire like in the Twilight saga? Would they continue their relationship despite this, Buffy didn’t seem to care having relationships with both Angel and Spike despite being a slayer. Would she run away from him screaming? Or would he merely just devour her and move on, living lonely for all eternity? I’m not sure if most people enjoy knowing something as the reader that the characters do not know, but I do not. It took me out of the story a little bit.

However, the book is very well written. You truly feel what Elizabeth is going through and can imagine the scenery and events that she experiences. I didn’t expect to like it as much as I did. The last fifty pages truly made up for the first 200. When it finally ended I was pleased and surprised with the twist. On a scale of 1 to 10 I give Mr. Darcy, Vamypre by Amanda Grange a 7. If you’re an Austen fan, a vampire fan, or both I recommend reading it. And if you do read it let me know and we can talk about it. I’m dying for someone to discuss it with (no pun intended?)

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