review: Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman
by Maria Hamilton
Imagine Pride & Prejudice from the point in the book where Elizabeth Bennet declines Mr. Darcy’s marriage proposal at Hunsford, as he takes his leave and begins to wonder where he went wrong. This is the basis for this Austen variation, in which the characters come to the same end result, only not exactly as Austen wrote it and with more details.
Darcy begins reexamining himself through with the words Elizabeth had flung at him regarding his behavior and demeanor. With his thoughts on righting the wrongs he had inflicted, he began his mission to reunite Mr. Bingley and Jane Bennet, and in the process hoped to show Elizabeth that her opinion of him, while partially accurate, was not the entire depth of his character—not to win her back, but because he could not live with the idea that she thought so poorly of him.
I’ve read several reevaluation books of Austen’s character of Mr. Darcy, but this is the first one that really delves into his psyche in such a natural and astute manner. Every thought is artfully relayed and one can absolutely sympathize with his plight. Elizabeth’s innermost thoughts are also on display and the workings of their minds and hearts are described to the fullest extent.
I really enjoyed this novel, and if toward the end Darcy and Elizabeth reverted to a more modern view of behavior as some reviewers have stated, I feel it fit with the character development. This is not how Austen would have written it, but that doesn’t make this novel any less intelligent and thought provoking. I enjoyed the dialogue and character interaction very much and caught myself smiling several times while reading this book. That it gave me great pleasure is a good enough reason to rate this book highly. Traditionalists may not enjoy it greatly, but this reader found many happy hours within its pages.