Saturday, March 10, 2012

review: Compulsively Mr. Darcy

Title by Author: Compulsively Mr. Darcy  by Nina Benneton
Series (if applicable): none
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Publication Date: February 2012
Page Count:  352
For anyone obsessed with Pride & Prejudice, it's Darcy and Elizabeth like you've never see them before
This modern take introduces us to the wealthy philanthropist Fitzwilliam Darcy, a handsome and brooding bachelor who yearns for love but doubts any woman could handle his obsessive tendencies. Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth Bennet has her own intimacy issues that ensure her terrible luck with men.
When the two meet up in the emergency room after Darcy's best friend, Charles Bingley, gets into an accident, Elizabeth thinks the two men are a couple. As Darcy and Elizabeth unravel their misconceptions about each other, they have to decide just how far they're willing to go to accept each other's quirky ways...

My Review:
Compulsively Mr. Darcy is a modern day retelling of Pride and Prejudice with a series twist.  Darcy meets Elizabeth in Vietnam, where she is working for free at a local hospital in Da Nang, specializing in infectious diseases.  She only took the position so that her sister, Jane, would not be alone in the country while Jane is filling in for her Aunt and Uncle Gardiner at an orphanage that they usually run.  Enter the Bingleys and Mr. Darcy and the fun begins.

The more I think about this story, the less I like it.  It seemed too far-fetched and over-sexed.  William Darcy, a high-powered CEO, is a man who is fastidious and a bit OCD, or so we are led to believe by the author telling us, and showing a couple of things that might signify that aspect of his character.  I am no psychologist and have not been around too many persons with OCD, but I don’t think they would behave as Mr. Darcy does… and then wash his hands until they are raw to signal that he has an issue.

I love Jane Austen’s character of Elizabeth Bennet.  However, the Dr. Elizabeth Bennet in this story drove me nuts.  I am glad that she likes to twirl, but for being a person who started college when she was sixteen years old, she acted like a complete bimbo when it came to Mr. Darcy.  Her character was inconsistent as well.  I could see a scientist who has a passion for diseases and pathogens (which I don’t think the word ‘pathogen’ was ever used in this story…) be quirky, but she wouldn’t be a complete flittertigibbit and absolutely clueless as to what was going on around her.

I also felt that the other characters from Pride and Prejudice were poorly portrayed.  The only one I felt anything for was Georgiana.  Georgiana was a typical young lady who was unsure of herself and trying to find her place in the world.  Then there were the other sub-characters of P&P (and other Austen novels thrown in); such as, Bill Collins was a long-haired private detective, who was completely worthless, and the Vietnamese best friend of Elizabeth’s all of the sudden announces that she’s going to marry him because it’s time for her to marry and he looked her way.  Anne de Bourgh is portrayed as a complete b*tch, but at least she shows that she has a backbone in this story and will stop at nothing to try to get Darcy for her own!

It was hard to tell if Darcy’s character was American or British, based on his lexicon and mannerisms.  None of the characters really stood out as distinct people; they simply had different ways of speaking.  When I was about 50% through with the book, I was trying to figure out what the last half of the book would be about, as Elizabeth and Darcy were together by this point.  I was hoping to see more of Jane and Bingley, as in the original Jane Austen novel, but we barely caught a glimpse of them; which is a shame, because I thought that their story had great potential.

Another aspect of this story is that it is definitely for mature audiences.  Once Darcy and ‘Lizzy’ (sorry, back to the lexicon of Darcy – I cannot see a proper British gentleman calling a woman ‘Lizzy’) hit the sack, it was all innuendo until they got back in bed, or the bathroom counter…or whatever flat surface was nearby.  I am not prudish, but it was a bit excessive for my tastes.  Once again, some of the things that they do, I cannot see someone with serious OCD doing…

It was a quick read (thankfully – and with skimming) and a definite twist on the Pride and Prejudice story.  I know many people would love a chance to see Darcy and Elizabeth in whatever setting, but I prefer a retelling to be at least somewhat tasteful, as well as believable as the original is such a classic tale of wit, satire, and romance… which this story did not have.  Granted, I did laugh out loud at a few scenes… I loved Mary Bennet’s character and thought that this portrayal was taking the term ‘zealot’ in an interesting direction!  Please, take my review with a grain of salt.  So many others seemed to have loved this retelling, I simply was not one of them.

Favorite Quotes:
About Caroline Bingley by Mr. Darcy:  After spending hours traveling in close quarters with her, Darcy closed his eyes and briefly fantasized balancing her and her vast cultural knowledge at the business end of a catapult and pointing it toward North Korea.

Though he didn’t want the people he loved to feel stifled, he couldn’t help his compulsion.  Yet, here was this freespirited, feisty, and fearless woman who loved him enough to allow him to do whatever he needed to feel safe, even if it meant taking charge of certain aspects of her life that she was more than capable of handling.
Rating:  2 stars
Tag: Pride and Prejudice retelling, oversexed, contemporary
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