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REVIEW: Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter

Dear Ms. Potter:

Book CoverI’m thinking that this book caught me just a few years too late. Not only is this a chick lit novel, but it is also a Jane Austen homage which seems to be the topic du jour at publishing houses these days. I can see the appeal of Darcy and the desire to draw upon the positive connotations that many readers have with the Austen ouvre, but this retelling of a classic, while sweet and well written, suffered in comparison with the original.

Emily Albright is a bookstore manager for a family owned bookstore in New York. She’s had a string of bad dates and her friend is trying to get her to run off to Mexico for New Years. Instead, Emily decides to go on a tour of Jane Austen country. Her excitement is a bit dashed when she discovers that her group is mostly older women making her rethink her decision.

Joining the group is journalist, Spike Hargreaves, sent by his paper to discover why Mr. Darcy is the fantasy dream date of most British women. Spike, of course, is the antithesis of Darcy. Unkempt with a slight Buddha belly (as my girlfriends and I like to call it), foul mouthed and certainly unchivalrous. Compared to the literary perfection that is Darcy, Spike has no chance of capturing the heart of our intrepid heroine.

This is a retelling of Pride and Prejudice. The character arcs of Spike and Emily intentionally mirror that of Darcy and Elizabeth. Emily overhears Spike say something to a friend of his that is unflattering to her just as Elizabeth overhears Darcy decline to dance with Mr. Bingley because she is not handsome enough. The tour bus driver tells Emily something unsavory about Spike just like when Mr. Wickham tells something unsavory to Elizabeth about Mr. Darcy, generating dislike. When Darcy, err Spike, comes forward with his feelings, he is soundly rebuffed by Elizabeth, I mean, Emily.

The book is replete with quotations from Pride and Prejudice. There would be a quoted passage and then there would be a virtual re-enactment of the scene with Emily and Spike instead of Elizabeth and Darcy.

There was a very thin line between cleverness and contrivance, and for me, it fell off on the contrivance side. I think if it hadn’t had the quoted passages from Pride and Prejudice and the character of Mr. Darcy populating the pages, that it would have been more inventive. It seemed, however, too close a copy to actually be original.

There were certainly charming parts to the book. Many of the older women on tour had very full lives and they were quite charming. At one point, Emily wonders to herself how she is so stuck in her rut when those other women were out living. Emily has not quite the appeal of Elizabeth, but she still manages to carry her pages. Spike is enjoyable in his role as the anti-Darcy.

If the reader is in the mood for a revisit to Pemberly with new characters and appearances from Darcy, this is the right book. Its very readable but simply too close to the original to make me enjoy it. It’s hard to retell a classic without bringing something new and fresh and not be compared, unfavorably, to a master. C

Best regards,

Jane

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

25 Comments

  1. Jennie
    Jun 14, 2007 @ 15:22:32

    I actually had this book in my hands earlier today when I was in the bookstore. But I didn’t buy–I think I’m over Austen take-offs. I’d rather re-read the real thing.

  2. Josie
    Jun 14, 2007 @ 17:12:07

    I agree Jennie, there’s been too many sequels and modern re-tellings of this story and most have them have been pretty unfavourably reviewed… P&P is my favourite Austen and I can’t see myself picking this new version up.
    Maybe if you haven’t read the original it might be more appealing?

  3. Jane
    Jun 14, 2007 @ 17:28:59

    Jennie-that was my thought as well. I would rather read the original.

    Josie-True but it all seems like an inside joke of sorts so would a non pp’er be interested?

  4. Josie
    Jun 14, 2007 @ 20:19:20

    Good point on the insider jokes Jane – I didn’t think about it in that respect.

    I think a non P&P’er would be interested, it’s a pretty timeless storyline and by including the quotes and re-enactments, it could even encourage someone to read the original. I shouldn’t really make any judgements though seeing as I haven’t actually read the book!

    My comment really comes from a total lack of enthusiasm for the numerous re-tellings and sequels. However, I’m sure there are plenty of other who think these stories are awesome or surely they wouldn’t keep publishing them!

  5. Jane
    Jun 14, 2007 @ 23:57:10

    Josie – I wonder if you are right – that the book is targeted toward the non pp-er or maybe someone who just watched one of the movies but never read the original version.

    I did love the cover but I felt like it, too, signalled something about the book. I thought the heroine sounded British, or at least not a girl from the East Coast. At one point, she says to the hero “You’re winding me up.” which I find to a particularly British phrase. Unless all the new yorkers are saying that now. Is that true, Jennie, that “winding me up” is part of the everyday vernacular of the 20/30 something NYer?

  6. Jayne
    Jun 15, 2007 @ 02:15:39

    ” think if it hadn't had the quoted passages from Pride and Prejudice and the character of Mr. Darcy populating the pages, that it would have been more inventive. It seemed, however, too close a copy to actually be original”

    This is one of the reasons I didn’t care for Darcy’s Story. It seemed like whole passages were lifted and stuck verbatum into it. Bo-ring.

  7. Tara Marie
    Jun 15, 2007 @ 04:04:57

    I have this one on order, and am still looking forward to it, mostly because I love P&P stories and I am an Alexandra Potter (autobuy) fan, have enjoyed all her books.

    Jayne–I loved Darcy’s Story. “It seemed like whole passages were lifted and stuck verbatum into it.” Of course it had whole sections of dialogue included, it was the story from his POV… But I think we’ve had that discussion before :)

  8. Jane
    Jun 15, 2007 @ 06:10:12

    So, Jayne, I am guessing you don’t want me to send this to you!

  9. Jayne
    Jun 15, 2007 @ 06:29:39

    Uh, no Jane. I’ll skip it but thanks for the offer.

    TM, we’re going to have to agree to disagree on Darcy’s Story. The passages were so awkwardly used that it was more painful to read them than anything else. ;)

  10. Jennie
    Jun 15, 2007 @ 19:20:25

    Is that true, Jennie, that “winding me up� is part of the everyday vernacular of the 20/30 something NYer?

    I’ve never heard it. “Winding me up” sounds British to me too.

    And I want an avatar! That silhouette looks sad. I am off to figure it out.

  11. diana
    Jun 22, 2007 @ 14:17:46

    I just read this book and I think it’s not supposed to parallel P&P, but be about what it would be like to date Mr Darcy in real-life. The idea being that everyone thinks he’s the perfect man – brooding, chilvarous, full of integrity – perfect on paper – but actually when the main character Emily gets to date him, he’s actually quite boring, dull and arrogant. That’s what I found really funny and interesting.

  12. stephanie
    Jun 23, 2007 @ 13:46:52

    I agree with Diana. Everyone is taking this SO seriously! If you are into “real” literature and not “chick lit” then why are you reading this book?? It’s a light hearted novel NOT a rewrite of a classic!!!
    Lighten up!

  13. marion
    Jun 24, 2007 @ 03:25:25

    I have just read the book and find some of the previous comments laughable.For goodness sake, lighten up, you guys, do you REALLY think this is a rewrite of Jane Austen’s P & P? Its a modern up to date story of what it would be like to meet the Mr. Darcy of the regency period in the 21st century. It’s written purely as a romantic, funny, up-to-date easy read and not for some college student’s exam paper. I think it will be a great success – she has written 5 other books and I have found them all delightful to read.

  14. Louise
    Jul 18, 2007 @ 08:53:45

    I just finished the last page of the book and I loved it!

    I’m very dyslexic….takes me forever to read somehting. I loved P&P but as you can imagine it took me forever to read it…..got very frustrated during the whole reading process. I love Jane but with my disability it can be trying……this book was fun for me. I laughed (ok I didn’t cry and it didn’t become a part of me) but I did have fun reading it.

    Reading should be fun……and take you to some unbelieveable places and situations…..which I think this novel did.
    Thanks for listening….have a great day and great reading everyone! :0)

  15. Tina
    Oct 30, 2007 @ 12:29:33

    I loved it. I thought it was cute read. I agree with some of the other comments. (Lighten up). This read reminds me of Bridget Jones actually meeting Mr. Darcy and I don’t mean Mark Darcy either… I have never read this author before but I will buy her other books as well. I have read some of the other P&P kickoffs. Mr. Darcy’s story, Shades of Pemberly. They were alittle dull to say the least. I did read one other good book that was called The Man who loved Jane Austen. I enjoyed that one as well.

  16. julikate
    Dec 17, 2007 @ 02:59:23

    i completely adree with Tina and Louise – reading should take us to some imaginable situations, but on the other hand it should help us to understand something about our real life. i’ve just started reading A. Potter’s “Me and Mr. Darsy” and i really enjoy the language and the plot and the humour – it seems like i’m chatting with my friend!

  17. Robyn
    Dec 30, 2007 @ 01:34:21

    I just bought this book and i cannot put it down. i love it. the way emily always just wants to curl up with some wine and a good book is exactaly how i am. i really love this book.

  18. Lara
    Jan 18, 2008 @ 14:54:45

    I Loved your book and i was wondering if there is a tour really like that because i have been searching for one and i have only found one that visits the movie sites and all the other sites. If there is really one please e-mail me back. I really really want to find a tour like that. Thank You for your time.

  19. Elle
    Apr 02, 2008 @ 13:44:54

    I just finished the book and the one thing I could not get past was that this was a Brit trying to writing about an American and constantly choosing words and phrases that are not the American way of speaking. As a NYC girl myself there is now way in hell a blue collar worker from Queens would ask Emily “How’s that looking miss” when hanging the sign in front of the bookstore. Just a word to Ms. Potter if you are going to choose to make your characters American, get the speech right. Thanks!

  20. °†♥░SuZzAnE░♥†°
    Apr 28, 2008 @ 18:05:59

    to be completely honest ………………… why are you debating and talking to eachother about this stuff????……………i agree with blah blah blah………..THIS IS A REVIEW …..NOT MSN AOL OR YAHOO….if you really want to …go on those things and debate all you want ..but i read the reviews for the review! because I want to try this book ……not to hear what you have to say to so so .LET IT BE AND GIVE IT UP……okay ..nice talking to you ….BUT THIS DOES NOT REQUIRE A NEW THING TO START TALKING ABOUT SO [[DONT , DONT DONT!!!!!]] REPLY TO THIS MESSAGE …….OKAY …OKAY THEN…HAVE A GOOD DAY.

    Oh and by the way ..this does not include the first ladies on top of me .because they stated how they felt about the book …no agreeing or disagreeing …or bringing back past argument by the IGNORAMISES on the top ….ARGUING WITH EACHOTHER LIKE THATS THE WHOLE POINT . if you have nothing good to say dont say anything!!!!!

    thank you jesus !!! – †AmEn†

    THANK YA!!!!!!!! PRAISE HIM PRAISE HIM !!!!!
    in his service- °†♥░-SuZzAnE-░♥†°

  21. p&p
    Jun 13, 2011 @ 22:41:10

    suzzane… what the CRAP are you talking about……
    and anybody who reads her comment ignore her please…
    Jesus wouldn’t want you randomly posting rude crap that doesn’t even make sense as a comment on a normal book review.. thanks

  22. aime
    Jul 06, 2011 @ 08:44:01

    hmm, I just found this book at the bookstore this morning and it almost made me cry, I am just so in love with Mr.Darcy!!! but after reading the comments, I’m having second guesses on buying the book…eekk help!

    -^^-

  23. monika
    Dec 05, 2011 @ 19:18:33

    don’t buy it, don’t read it. after forcing myself to read the whole thing: big big disappointment. neither charming nor funny nor interesting. story is dull beyond imagination, characters made me fall asleep. worst alexandra potter book.

  24. Being a single guy in Vienna… « Mr.StrictlyIntimate
    Feb 04, 2012 @ 02:36:50

    […] Alexandra Potter writes in her novel ‘Me and Mr Darcy,’ “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single (I have to switch the original girl with its male equivalent here) guy in possession of his (again switched from ‘her’) right mind must be in want of a decent man. There’s just one problem … […] where on earth do you find a decent man these days?” […]

  25. Goddess of Blah
    Feb 26, 2012 @ 07:13:32

    Its a good book. Its not a re-write. I loved it as it challenges the cliches. Always something I enjoy.

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