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mr. darcy's christmas calendar

Source: Review copy from author
Rating: ★★★★☆

Something was not quite right, thought Lizzy.  No Mr. Darcy?  Elizabeth had looked completely blank at the mention of his name.  Whatever was being re-enacted here, it surely wasn’t Pride and Prejudice.

(from Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar)

Quick summary: In Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar, Lizzy Benson visits Jane Austen’s House Museum in Chawton on a snowy day, where she is greeted by a Mrs. Bennet.  She picks up an Advent calendar in the gift shop, meets a Lydia Bennet in the drawing room, and marvels at the museum’s efforts to make visitors feel like they’ve traveled to another era.  But when Lizzy’s calendar starts glowing, she learns that Miss Austen herself is there in the background tinkering with the first draft of what will some day become Pride and Prejudice, and she finds it impossible to go home, she begins to think she has somehow gone back in time.  As the days pass and Lizzy watches events similar but not quite the same as those in her favorite novel unfold, she is torn between her need to return to her family in modern-day London and her desire to see how things play out for the Bennet girls and even for herself, as her feelings for the Darcy-esque Mr. Williams change along with the images behind each door of the calendar.

Why I wanted to read it: I’m a huge fan of Jane Odiwe’s novels, especially the time travel ones.  (Check out my reviews of Searching for Captain Wentworth and Project Darcy)

What I liked: The idea of an Advent calendar serving as a tool to travel through time was clever, as was the idea that it is possible to live within the pages of a novel and interact with the characters.   However, Odiwe doesn’t allow Lizzy to be a passive observer, and I enjoyed watching her own story unfold along with all the Bennet family drama.  It was interesting to see Miss Austen thinking her way through the revisions, realizing that something (or someone) was missing, bouncing ideas off Lizzy, and tweaking her characters along the way.

What I disliked: I can’t say I really disliked anything, but at times, the blending of past/present and fiction/reality was a bit confusing.  Of course, it’s the kind of book where you need to just go with the flow, and once I stopped thinking too hard about it, I was able to just simply enjoy it.

Final thoughts: I really wanted to review Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar before Christmas, but with all the activity leading up to the holiday, I found myself looking forward to relaxing in bed each evening with the book, and I actually didn’t finish it until after our Christmas Day festivities were over.  But this truly is a novel that can be enjoyed all winter long.  Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar will delight Austen fans by giving them a glimpse of their beloved author hard at work, her characters in flux, and what might transpire were they able to slip back into the past and into a novel, forging relationships that transcend time.

Disclosure: I received Mr. Darcy’s Christmas Calendar from the author for review.

© 2014 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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