Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Review: Mr Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman

Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman by Maria Hamilton

Publication Date: May 2011
Publisher: Sorucebooks
Genre: Jane Austen inspired variation
Pages: Paperback, 528pp
ISBN-13: 9781402244186
ISBN:
1402244185

(Received for review from Sourcebooks)

Purchase: Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, IndieBound

Maria Hamilton on the WEB:
Austen Authors Blog

Synopsis (Book Blurb):

For the first time in his life he has to work for his reward...

Darcy is shocked when Elizabeth refuses his hand... and then it begins to dawn on him how very bad his behavior has been. Now he's on a mission to change himself and to change Elizabeth's mind. But Elizabeth Bennet is not easily swayed.

And then there's her family. Misinterpreting Darcy's intentions, meddling friends and family may derail Darcy's cause. With misunderstanding in the air, and even his closest allies unable to help him, unless Darcy can really transform himself, he's never going to win Elizabeth over...

Thoughts:

In the Jane Austen masterpiece, Pride and Prejudice, Austen lets Mr Darcy simmer for a long time after Elizabeth's rejection of his marriage proposal. Debut author, Maria Hamilton puts quite a different spin on it, when she brings Darcy back into Elizabeth's life much earlier than in the original. Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman explores the situation from Mr. Darcy's point of view. Readers will enjoy the lengthy conversations between Darcy and Elizabeth and get a deeper sense of who Mr. Darcy is and what he's all about.

After Elizabeth's initial rejection Darcy is completely heartbroken. But as he starts to think about the things Elizabeth said to him that day, he realizes how right she really was. His pride and aloofness may have cost him his chance at love. He decides that he must take steps to change those things about himself that were so hurtful and demeaning to Elizabeth. He must try to salvage the relationship between Bingley and Jane, show respect to Elizabeth's family and somehow show her he has changed. When Darcy returns to speak with Jane his intentions are misunderstood and the family inadvertently thinks Darcy is there to court Jane. How will Darcy be able to win Elizabeth back when everything he does seems to be misconstrued?

There are so many Austen inspired sequels, prequels, variations and mash-up's available to readers today, that each story has to provide some hook, some difference that will draw the reader in and keep their attention. Why should I read this book as opposed to other offerings on the market today? In Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman, Hamilton hooks readers by delivering a novel that centers more on Darcy than on Elizabeth, though she is a primary part of the story.

Maria Hamilton gives readers a look at the story of Pride and Prejudice through the eyes of Mr. Darcy. In Austen's original novel the reader learns a great deal about Elizabeth early on in the book, allowing the reader to form a bond with her. Her plucky attitude and boldness draw the reader in and when they begin to hear Darcy make very judgmental comments they aromatically sympathize with Elizabeth and not Darcy. Hamilton's variation however shows the reader what Darcy was thinking and feeling. How devastated he was by Elizabeth's rejection and his resolve to transform himself into the kind of gentleman that Elizabeth could love and be proud of. I thought the author did an excellent job of showing Mr. Darcy in a different light. He comes across as more real and less austere.

One of the parts of the novel that I really enjoyed were the conversations between Darcy and Elizabeth. Hamilton has a gift for taking Austen's summaries of what went on between them and developing them into deeper and more meaningful dialogue. I would much rather see a relationship developing in this manner than just be told it happened. This really created a more intimate portrait of these two beloved characters. I thought the author did an amazing job with this aspect of the book and it made all the difference.

Readers will enjoy the fact that Hamilton stayed true to Austen's original tale. She just further explored the intimacy that developed between this famous couple. I liked the way she was able to show Darcy's change and his maturity. He was always a gentleman with potential, but in this book he really comes into his own and shows what kind of man he really is. He rights the wrongs he has created and in the process wins back the love of his life. A happy-ever-after that readers expect and believe in. Hamilton's debut will definitely find a place in Austen inspired fiction.

Mr. Darcy and the Secret of Becoming a Gentleman is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!




Maria Hamilton is a graduate of Harvard Law School and is an attorney in Boston. Her interests include travel, politics, the Red Sox, bicycling, and a random succession of hobbies that allow her to express her creative passion. She is perpetually learning Italian and hopes to one day attempt a complete conversation. She lives with her husband and two children in southern New Hampshire.


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