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Friday, June 17, 2011

Beach Reads: A Weekend with Mr Darcy

Beach Reads is a summer meme, posted here every
weekend.  It consists of quick, light reviews about books that
make good beach or backyard reading.   Find out more here,
and feel free to post your own Beach Reads and enjoy the summer right!

A Weekend with Mr Darcy
Victoria Connelly

Full of characters obsessed with Jane Austen and set in Jane Austen locations in England, this lively modern Jane Austen romantic comedy trilogy features two pairs of lonely hearts who find each other and themselves at a Jane Austen Addicts weekend.
Dr. Katherine Roberts is a Jane Austen lecturer at St Bridget's College, Oxford, who secretly loves the racy Regency novels of Lorna Warwick. But Lorna is really a man who's slowly been falling in love with Katherine. He's hoping that the Jane Austen Addicts weekend will be the perfect opportunity to declare his feelings...


I wasn't sure what I'd be getting with this one.  It has a super cute cover (one of my faves in my big ole' Janeite stack), but I am always a little apprehensive when it comes to anything that smacks of romance. I find it even more dubious when a Janeite novel opens with a mangling of Austen's famous "truth universally acknowledged" line.  But the fact of the matter is, as clichĂ©d as this could be, it was also great fun, and enjoyably readable.  I kid you not when I say I knew exactly what was going to happen by page 4 (I was actually on page 4 when I said it aloud), but it was still fun getting there.

It reminded me very strongly of Austenland (in plot and in tone), and though this made it that much more predicatble, it was welcome, as Austenland is one of my favorite Janeite books.  I still like Austenland more, but Weekend had the same sort of self-indulgent funness to it.  It was cute and bubbly and there were numerous times when I found myself not just casually smiling, but grinning.  The whole thing sort of reads as a nod to Janeites, with lots of in-jokes and other retellings and authors mentioned.  It's a fangirl's homage to fangirliness.

As fun as it was, there were some things that held me back in my enthusiasm a bit.  Emotions ran a little too high and were a little too easy for me, if that makes sense.  I know part of the whole point of the story is the magic of this Jane weekend, and how it weaves its spell, but the main characters didn't seem very realistic, especially the men, and when people start tossing around the word love after a day, I can't help but roll my eyes and think they are doomed.  And yes, I get that these uber-thoughtful, expressive, gorgeous men fulfill the stereotype and the wish of the ultimate Austen hero made flesh, but I would have liked a little more groundwork and struggle to get declarations of undying whatever.  Part of what builds butterflies in your stomach when you read is that things take time and are difficult.  Anticipation is built, and there are near misses where you think they are never going to get together and you just can't wait.  I would have liked a little more waiting (which was impossible from the start, since the bulk of the book takes place over 3 days).

From the Jane-ish standpoint, it was a good take on the common tropes.  I've already mentioned the men being the embodiment of the swoon-worthy Austen hero (and they certainly did their best), but the two main characters, Katherine and Robyn, were good Jane-inspired female leads.  They each were reminiscent of several Austen heroines, without ever being a straight copy of any.  It was more a nod to Austen, in a modern woman and setting, and I enjoyed that.
Katherine at times was a little too petulant for my tastes - she is a grown woman; I don't ever want to read the word 'pout' applied to an adult character I'm supposed to like.  That being said, I still did like her and root for her.  Robyn had my heart from the beginning, surprisingly (I thought it was going to be all about Katherine for me).  And I loved seeing how their lives came together in the end and all of the storylines were resolved - even if I did see them coming.  They were infused with enough believable emotion that I fully enjoyed it and never wanted to set the book aside.
It was like watching a chick flick - you may know exactly what is going to happen, but that doesn't stop you from wanting to watch it (again and again and again...)

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  1. I think I'd also get sick of the word "love" being tossed around after just a day. Sorry to hear this one wasn't as good as you'd hoped!

  2. No, no! It was good, it was really fun and I liked the characters. Those were just a couple of pet peeves, but the general feel should be a recommendation. Sorry if that didn't come across!

  3. Overall, this sounds like a fun read. It's in my JA stack, so I'm looking forward to reading it.

  4. This book is already on my TBR list. I'm intrigued by the whole guy-writing-Regency-romance-under-female-pseudonym idea.
    I loved Austenland as well.

  5. I can't wait to read it. I hope it's good when I get my hands on it.


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