I have been interested in the Darcy mania phenomena ever since discovering Jan Austen Fan Fiction several years ago. I’ve participated in an academic conference to talk about this topic, read plenty of academic papers about it, and even considered writing a book regarding this matter. Unfortunately my daily job, along with several other hobbies, never allow me to have enough time to do it so I was very excited when I learned that a new book called There’s Something About Darcy was going to be released.
When I read the blurb, I though this book would be pure perfection, and that it would finally generate more discussion about Jane Austen Fan Fiction in a lighter manner, focusing on what makes us read about the same characters over and over again. I have nothing against academic papers, but I never felt they really conveyed what JAFF was all about, and my hopes were all placed in There’s Something About Darcy. Check out the blurb to see if you agree with me 🙂
For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. But what is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?
Dr Gabrielle Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel and will defend their choice passionately.
In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?
It is visible in There’s Something About Darcy that Dr Gabrielle Malcom made an extensive research about the Darcymania phenomenon, and literary romantic heroes, using the knowledge acquired to draft a detailed and very organized book. It starts by enlightening readers about what may have influenced Austen in her creation of Fitzwilliam Darcy’s character, progressing to how Darcy influenced other romantic heroes, and finally focusing on the Pride & Prejudice adaptations on screen and in literature.
In the first part of the book I found particularly interesting to read about the influences Austen herself may have add, and how Darcy became a stereotype of a romantic hero. We’ve all heard about other characters that share similar traits with Darcy and we like to believe he is the cause. There are several articles comparing Darcy to other literary characters such as Mr. Thornton (one of them written by Nicole Clarkston and shared here at from Pemberley to Milton two years ago), Mr. Grey and even Edward Cullen from Twilight, but Gabrielle Malcom goes even further comparing Darcy to Dracula, Rochester and even Heathcliff. I find this an interesting topic, but I could not agree with some of the comparisons the author made, and I would have preferred for this part of the book to have been shorter as too much page time was spent talking about those characters and explaining their background. In my opinion, where some comparisons were a little exaggerated, like Heathcliff, others like Mr. Thornton were lost opportunities. I believe these two characters are the ones that are more alike and I would have liked to read more about their similar traits.
The second part of the book was more in line with what I was expecting and I truly enjoyed reading about the several T.V. adaptations that were made of Pride & Prejudice. I particularly loved the analysis the author made of Andrew Davies’ adaptation, because even if I have read many about this subject, I had never seen such a detailed and interesting analysis. The author explains how Davies was able to bring added value to the adaptation remaining faithful to Austen’s work, namely by adding silent scenes that would give a better view of Darcy’s character without creating dialogue that Austen herself didn’t write.
After the interesting analysis of Darcy on film, the author analyses the evolution of Darcy in literature and here she details the storyline of several books and explains the author’s interpretation of the Darcy character. The author is of the opinion that each writer has their own vision of who Darcy is (an opinion I also share), and describes and analyses the plots of books such as Longbourn, Death Comes to Pemberley, The Madness of Mr. Darcy, Project Darcy, etc.
Many papers about this topic focus on far-fetched stories where Darcy is a vampire, pirate, zombie slayer, gay etc, and even if I also like some of those books, I believe most JAFF readers prefer the regular regency variations. That is where the biggest fan base is, so I truly loved the inclusion of The Madness of Mr. Darcy, which is one of my all time favourite JAFF books, in this list. The analysis was very interesting and definitely my favourite, especially because I had read the book before, so the extensive description of the plot was not a spoiler for me.
At some point the author mentions that authors realise the potential of Mary Bennet’s character as the forgotten sister, and I believe it would have been interesting to read more about books focused on Mary Bennet such as When Mary Met the Colonel, but the focus was on Darcy after all, so I guess that is understandable.
Dr. Gabrielle Malcom also discusses the close relationship between readers, writers and reviewers of JAFF and I was very happy to see her quote my fellow blogger Mira Magdo. This was the part of the book I enjoyed the most as it was the one that was closer to the JAFF community, and in line with what I was expecting from this book and I wouldn’t have mind if this was the lengthiest part of the book.
There’s Something About Darcy is an interesting book that Jane Austen Fan Fiction readers will enjoy because it makes an extensive analysis of the many facets of Darcy. It doesn’t clearly answer to the question of why Darcy is still so relevant in the 21st century, and it doesn’t discuss some of the big names in the genre like Abigail Reynolds or Joana Starnes, but it does bring several ideas to the table for our discussion and it is definitely worth reading, therefore I do recommend it to those interested in the Darcy phenomena. It will give those readers much to think about and discuss with their friends.
This review is integrated in the Blog Tour for There’s Something About Darcy, so if you’re curious about this book, you can find more information on the following blogs:
And if this is a book that belongs in your library, you can find it at:
Happy Reading everyone!