Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Darcy Cousins by Monica Fairview
A young lady in disgrace should at least strive to behave with decorum...
Dispatched from America to England under a cloud of scandal,
Mr. Darcy's incorrigible American cousin, Clarissa Darcy, manages to provoke Lady Catherine de Bourgh, Mr. Collins, and the parishioners of Hunsford all in one morning!
And there are more surprises in store for that bastion of tradition, Rosings Park, when the family gathers for their annual Easter visit. Georgiana Darcy, generally a shy model of propriety, decides to take a few lessons from her unconventional cousin, to the delight of a neighboring gentleman. Anne de Bourgh, encouraged to escape her "keeper" Mrs. Jenkinson, simply...vanishes. But the trouble really starts when Clarissa and Georgiana both set out to win the heart of the same young man...
I haven't read the precursor to this book, The Other Mr Darcy, so I don't know how they fit together or how having read the one would have influenced my opinion of the other. I do know that having Caroline Bingley as a character -- even a minor one -- put me on guard, which was sort of funny.
Beyond that, where to begin? I was very excited to see that this story expands on two of the women I wanted to know more about in P&P, Anne de Bourgh and Georgiana Darcy. They were both so shy and retiring, such complete wallflowers, but you knew there had to be more to them. Georgiana is the focus of this story (as well as her American cousin, Clarissa), but Anne certainly has her part to play. I enjoyed this, and thought Fairview did an admirable job of breaking them out of their shells believably.
Fairview mimics Austen fairly well, both in language and style, and follows her storylines (and patterns) to an extent that I at first thought I was going to be irritated -- that it was simply going to be a case of the same story with different names, which irritates me. This wasn't the case. Many similar things to occur, but in a way that show the differences between Georgiana and Lizzie. This makes sense, as they have two different characters, and it was fun to see different reactions and ways of acquiting themselves in social situations.
The story is predictable, of course, but not necessarily in a bad way. I love banter, and I enjoyed myself reading it; it was full of those little moments that I love where something is on the verge of happening, but doesn't. I think layering these in a story lays the groundwork for what is coming, but keeps it from coming too soon and losing it's power. It's a teasing game that keeps the reader engaged and looking for the next flirtation with the inevitable, and it's one of the things I loved in Austen's romances -- of course you knew where they were headed, but it never bothered you just sitting back and watching it get there, no matter how long it took. It even has me curious to read The Other Mr Darcy and find out how Caroline is able to work herself into my good graces. And that's saying something. ;p