“I swear I shall strangle you for your vulgarity, Lydia!” Elizabeth yelled as she finally succeeded in shoving Jane out of the way. Lydia jumped back and Darcy bolted forward, seizing his wife around her waist. With very little effort, he managed to carry her flailing form to the other side of the apartment. “Unhand me this instant, Fitzwilliam!” she commanded. “I must throttle my impudent sister before I regain my senses!”
Lydia stuck out her tongue and laughed. “Ha! I’d like to see you try, Lizzy!”
(from The Truth About Mr. Darcy, page 313 in the ARC)
Susan Adriani’s debut novel, The Truth About Mr. Darcy, is a retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that strays far from the original but is entertaining in its own right. In Adriani’s version of the story, Mr. Darcy realizes he has feelings for Elizabeth Bennet shortly after the Meryton Assembly, where she overheard him saying that she was merely “tolerable.” The book takes a different course from the very beginning, when Darcy confides in Elizabeth the truth about George Wickham as soon as the two meet up and exchange glares in Meryton. Of course, it doesn’t take long for Elizabeth to learn Wickham’s true nature for herself, as he notices the way Darcy stares at her and sets his sights on Elizabeth as a way to hurt Darcy.
Many of the elements of Pride and Prejudice make their way into The Truth About Mr. Darcy, but Adriani shakes them up a bit and takes the “bad” characters to the extreme. Mr. Collins still visits Longbourn intending to marry one of the Bennet sisters and still proposes to Elizabeth, but instead of being merely ridiculous, he also is spiteful and vindictive. Lady Catherine still does not want her nephew to marry Elizabeth because she lacks money and connections and expects Darcy to marry her daughter, Anne, but she takes her rude tirades and criticisms of Elizabeth to a higher level. Caroline Bingley is still arrogant and jealous, but she goes to greater lengths to ridicule Elizabeth, and Wickham…well, he is an even slimier scumbag than in the original novel.
Much of The Truth About Mr. Darcy centers on Darcy and Elizabeth’s deepening love and passion. I had a hard time believing that the two would act so inappropriately in front of other people, but their slip-ups made for some embarrassing situations and entertaining dialogue. There are several explicit sex scenes, and their inclusion didn’t bother me, but I felt that there may have been too many of them and that they detracted from the story a bit. However, they show the passion and the tenderness in Darcy and Elizabeth’s relationship and indicate to the world that theirs is a love match.
What makes The Truth About Mr. Darcy so interesting is Adriani’s handling of Austen’s characters. I admit I liked the more romantic Darcy presented here, and although Elizabeth seemed a bit weak to me at times, Adriani’s take on the villains and the ramped up excitement of the Lydia/Wickham debacle more than made up for it. All the added drama had me laughing out loud at times. The book was a tad long and could have done with fewer sex scenes, but overall, I found it hard to put down. The Truth About Mr. Darcy is a worthwhile addition to the shelves of readers like me who can’t get enough of the Austen variations, especially if they don’t mind when things really heat up between Darcy and Elizabeth.
Disclosure: I received The Truth About Mr. Darcy from Sourcebooks for review.
© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.