Sunday, October 04, 2009

Book Review - Mr. Darcy, Vampire

Mr. Darcy, Vampire
Amanda Grange
Sourcebooks
ISBN: 13-978-1-4022-3697-6

"My dearest Jane,

My hand is trembling as I write this letter. My nerves are in tatters and I am so altered that I believe you would not recognize me...."

This book begins with the wedding between Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy and continues as he takes her on an impromptu wedding tour in Europe. Elizabeth is quite perplexed when her beloved Darcy does not come to her on their wedding night nor on the nights to follow as they journey to Paris. With a respite in the war, Mr. Darcy is intent on showing his new bride to his...friends. Elizabeth, a confident young woman, is somewhat surprised but enjoys meeting Darcy's friends in Paris. Though some of them seem to be quite worldly to her, some are a delight. But underneath the city and the people's charm, Elizabeth senses a darker 'something'. Then when Darcy's cousin and friend, Colonel Fitzwilliam, arrives and demands to know what Darcy intends to do, Elizabeth's confidence falters. Perhaps the differences between her station and Darcy's is too much to overcome? But no, she decides, their marriage is based on love. Their social standing will not stand in the was of their happiness.

But Darcy still doesn't come to her at night and after his cousin's visit, he announces they will proceed to the Alps to visit his uncle. For advice, he says, and Elizabeth again wonders if he regrets their marriage. Though the journey is pleasant, Elizabeth is at a loss on how to entice her husband to her bed. Advice from a kindly, older Englishwoman they happen upon at an inn makes Elizabeth determined. Early one morning she sees Darcy swimming in the nearby pond and decides to join him. His expression of absolute longing delights Elizabeth and she is convinced that this will be the end to his self-imposed exile from her bed. But their moment is lost when his aunt Lady Catherine arrives to lambast Darcy for marrying Elizabeth. His fierce defense of his marriage sends Lady Catherine on her way. Elizabeth finds herself alone once again as they continue on to the mountains.

Each step of her journey becomes darker and more fraught with nightmare images. Darcy's uncle is kindly but when the arrive at his castle, an ax falls close to Darcy. The servants claim it to be a portent of his coming death and that she, Elizabeth, will cause it. The count is likable if a bit threadbare. Elizabeth is startled to discover there are no mirrors in the castle. But when the castle is attacked, he tells Darcy 'they will not stand for her' and Darcy rushes her out through a secret bolt hole. They cross the mountains and finally end their journey in Venice. However, the mystery of their marriage and the loneliness of her marriage bed continues to depress Elizabeth until it all comes to a head. Darcy and Elizabeth must fight both for their lives and their future. But will the portent that Elizabeth will cause Darcy's death come true?

If Jane Austen had written a book about a vampire, this would be it. Amanda Grange has created a true feeling of the old masterpiece. The language, the texture, the entire essence of the book stands true to what Ms. Austen would have accomplished. Ms. Grange brings Elizabeth and Darcy to life and explores their inmost feelings as they journey toward the end of the book. I believe even the staunchest Pride and Prejudice devotees would find this as fascinating as I did and well worth a second and third reading.

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