Book Thoughts: Darcy’s Diary by Amanda Grange

I’ve always been an Austen fan. While I’m a modern woman in pretty much every sense of the word, there’s something about her stories that have always appealed to me. I’m not sure if it’s the decorum with which most of her characters conduct themselves and the orderly manner in which life seems to progress within their respective worlds. I’ve often used reading as an escapism from my actual life – if I’m stressed, having a bad day, or even if I’m not – I’ve always loved to escape into a different world for a while. In comparison to the chaotic, loud and often rude world we often do live in, the Austen world is a breath of fresh, predictable air.

Now, before I go any further, I should probably direct your attention to the title of this post. It specifically does not have the word ‘review’ in it. I decided to write about books on this blog for three primary reasons: 1) Because I love reading, and wanted to try out a way of extending that beyond the pages of the books I read; 2) because I have fallen off the reading wagon of late and I felt if I had a goal beyond finishing the book, it might help me to keep reading more; 3) I used to read an awful lot of books, and years later, I could never remember the detail of the story – I’m a speedy reader, and I often don’t absorb as much detail as I could, because I’m too busy living the story line. I figured blogging my thoughts on the books would help me be more reflexive, something I’m trying to be generally better at in all aspects of my life.

So, I could talk about the literary significance of the juxtaposition of Darcy and Bingley throughout Austen’s original Pride and Prejudice, and how that is reflected here, and I could talk about how Darcy and the male characters in general are reflected in terms of a comment on English society and what it was to be a man in those times. I could talk about this book, and indeed all books, in lots of ways. But I want to write about my experience of reading the book – how I felt, how engrossed I got, what I loved or hated as a reader of a story. That might, in ways, end up reflecting some of the more elevated elements of literature in terms of commenting on themes and reflections on society etc, but it won’t be the aim.

Anyway, back to Darcy’s Diary. I’ll admit, when I first read Pride and Prejudice, my thoughts were mostly centred around what an arse Darcy was, and more to the point, what an eejit Elizabeth was for agreeing to marry him in the end. Darcy seemed to me to be selfish, self-centred, rude and egotistical. And I know, back then in real life it was really all about marrying to elevate one’s status in life, but I was hopeful Elizabeth, with her arch teasing and her no-nonsense approach to things would be the exception to the rule, and I was disappointed when she wasn’t.

I saw Darcy’s diary as a chance for him to convince me that I was wrong. And, to be honest, he did and he didn’t. I hate him less now having read his side of things. Although I still think he’s an arse – he’s all self-control, until he isn’t. A few confessions and apparently he’s a new man? Pull the other one. That said, I wasn’t fully expecting to be completely turned around in my opinion of Darcy.

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What this was, though, was a nice read. And I don’t mean that in a condescending way. As my first choice read of the year, It was an easy read, where I knew how the ending was going to work out, but I was ok with that. The author did well to keep style with Austen, in such a manner that I feel an urge to re-read Pride and Prejudice.

I still have issues with Darcy. What is his business that he can’t even talk about it in his own personal diary? Was the tendency toward decorum back then such that this was the case for all men? How is he really so stupid that he thinks abusing Elizabeth, her station in life and her family will get him an acceptance to his proposal? These, however, are issues in keeping with Darcy’s expected character, not of writing – in fairness, this book keeps to the  letter of the storyline in the original.

I understand I’m late to the party in reading this book – it is now 10 years old, but I am an old-school reader – I don’t generally go in for films, re-writes etc around books, particularly those I liked. I’m not sure what made me open this book, and why I did it now – I don’t tend to re-read books, and I had a hankering for some Austen recently, so perhaps that was it. All I know is that I will definitely be reading more of Amanda Grange’s re-writes – particularly her other Austen ones.

Have you read this book? Or any of Amanda Grange’s other books? What did you think? Let me know!

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