Ignoring the luxury automobile around her, Elizabeth gave directions to Darcy. Then she asked the first thing she could think of. “So, why did you cut your hair?”
Darcy’s eyes were hidden behind his sunglasses, but she could see the annoyance in the set of his lips. “You know,” he said softly, “I have written seven number one songs. I have traveled over four continents. I have performed before hundreds of thousands of people. I have met both the Pope and the Dalai Lama, and still, do people ask me about any of that?” His voice had risen slightly, “No, they ask me about my hair.”
(from Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, page 44 in the ARC; finished version may be different)
Heather Lynn Rigaud trades dresses, bonnets, breeches, and balls for leather pants, tattoos, groupies, and concerts in Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star, a contemporary re-telling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Slurry, a famous rock band featuring guitar god Fitzwilliam Darcy, bassist Charles Bingley, and drummer Richard Fitzwilliam, is in need of an opening act for a seven-month tour. Their tour manager and Charles’ twin, Caroline, introduces the band to an all-girl group called Long Bourne Suffering, featuring Elizabeth Bennet on guitar, her sister Jane on bass, and her friend Charlotte Collins on drums. LBS hasn’t hit the big time yet, and touring with Slurry could be their big break.
Tension arises before they even embark on the tour, as Elizabeth overhears Darcy tell his bandmates to keep their hormones in check and not get involved with the girls, who likely are willing to do anything to further their careers. Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star is nearly 600 pages long and focuses on the stresses of a lengthy tour, media appearances, and video shoots and the problems that result when Charles and Jane fall in love, Richard and Charlotte embark on a “no strings” relationship where someone is bound to get hurt, and Will and Elizabeth misunderstand one another over and over again.
I was expecting Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star to be light and funny, but I was surprised to learn that Rigaud tackles some serious issues, including sex addiction and pedophilia, within its pages. There were a several scenes that made me chuckle, but for the most part, the humor that I love about Austen’s novels was absent. Much of the book involves the characters wondering how their lovers truly feel about them, being mad at their lovers, or having sex. I figured a novel about rock stars would have sex, but I didn’t expect a multitude of sex scenes, and it honestly grew tiring after awhile. The sex scenes were also very explicit, and while they were infused with passion, some of the words used to describe body parts made them seem more pornographic than romantic.
However, the plot itself was very interesting, and when the sex scenes bogged down the book, I still kept reading because I wanted to know what happened to the characters. I think many of the sex scenes could have been excluded to shorten the book and focus on the meat of the story. Rigaud’s interpretation of Austen’s characters was entertaining, with Wickham, a former member of Slurry turned video director, more of a bastard and Collins, an A&R executive with De Bourgh Records, creepier and less ridiculous. Elizabeth takes herself more seriously than she does in Austen’s novel, and Charlotte and Jane are both wilder (and more shocking) than you’d expect. It was hard for me to get used to Elizabeth and the girls cursing, and I felt the absence of Elizabeth’s wit and playfulness, but Rigaud does succeed in telling a rock ‘n roll love story. In fact, I loved how when Will and Lizzy were unable to express themselves through words, they did so beautifully through music. And of course, it was impossible not to fall in love with Darcy the rock star, who is so very polite and professional and not the bad boy the world thinks he is.
I applaud Rigaud for taking a unique approach to Pride and Prejudice. Now that I’ve read so many different takes on Austen’s novels, I’m on the lookout for something different, and Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star certainly fits the bill. It’s definitely not a novel for Austen purists, but if you’re looking for something modern, edgy, and sexy, then this might be the book for you.
Disclosure: I received Fitzwilliam Darcy, Rock Star from Sourcebooks for review.
© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.