26/11/2010

"Mr. Darcy's Diary"

by Maya Slater

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favourite novels. I read it when I was about 18, as the first in my (short-lived) undertaking to learn more of the classics (and well before, I might add, the popularisation via that serialisation). I bought an old hardback, large print edition that was being removed from library stock. Although helpfully cheap, it had what I considered at the time to be unnecessarily large, overly girly full page illustrations and as a result I was very embarrassed to be seen reading it in public. Needless to say, I still have the book and love the illustrations now (although sadly I can't find any online). I still read it at least once a year, I guess.

Obviously there's now a minor industry in P&P spin-offs, including any number of novels. I've tried a few of them but mostly they are very poor. However, I saw someone reading this book on a train and it piqued my interest, and last week I finally found it in the library.

The book is, of course, the same central story, but told from the perspective of the hero rather than the heroine. (There's some half-hearted pretence about this being a *real* diary found in a bureau and that therefore the whole story is not fiction after all.) Fitzwilliam Darcy doesn't actually appear that much in Jane Austen's novel, being mostly absent doing something mysterious about managing his estates or some such. This book ties together many of the questions that crop up around his behaviour, such as why he returns to Pemberley early. It also gives many interesting details of his life in London, which I enjoyed (though I can't say how historically accurate they are).

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Searching around The Republic Of Pemberley, I found that there are in fact many versions of Darcy's diary, and I have to say I'm tempted to try another.

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