Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Sourcebooks Inc.
Genre: Austen Inspired Fiction
Pages: Paperback, 352pp
(Received for an honest review from Sourcebooks)
Excerpt from A Weekend with Mr. Darcy
Dr Katherine Roberts is a lecturer at Oxford University and an expert on all things Austen. But she has a guilty secret; a love of racy Regency novels by Lorna Warwick. She’s even struck up a long-distance friendship with the novelist and the two of them have been sharing their closest confidences.
When Katherine gets her yearly invite to a Jane Austen Conference at the magnificent Purley Hall in Hampshire, she sincerely hopes that Lorna will be in attendance as well. She can hardly wait to meet her new friend, but it seems that Lorna may not have been completely honest with her…
Meanwhile, hopeless romantic Robyn Love is at her happiest when her head is stuck in one of Jane Austen’s novels – if only her boyfriend Jace Collins could be more like Colin Firth.
The weekend retreat is the perfect opportunity for Robyn to escape from reality for a few days – especially when she meets handsome stablehand Dan. But Jace isn’t going to be so easy to shrug off.
With misunderstandings, muddles and a few shocking revelations, the weekend proves to be even more than they bargained for. Like all true Jane Austen heroines, Katherine and Robyn will discover that finding their own Mr Darcy is far from easy…
Victoria Connelly takes Austen inspired fiction in a new direction with her book, A Weekend With Mr. Darcy. Instead of writing the typical prequel or variation, Connelly decided to set her novel around a Jane Austen conference where lovers of all things Austen get together to celebrate her work. Readers will fall in love with Connelly's sharp wit and humor, as she captivates them with complex and compelling characters. A must read for Austen fans!
Katherine Roberts has been a Jane Austen fan for years and when she gets an opportunity to spend a long weekend nursing her addiction it seems like the perfect getaway. She also hopes to meet a woman she has been keeping in contact with that is an Austen fan as well. But it appears Lorna Warwick, a writer of racy, Regency romances and Katherine's penpal hasn't been able to make the trip after all. Katherine has no idea that the man she meets as Lawton Warwick is really her friend Lorna, but there is just something about him that reminds her of her own personal Mr. Darcy. Meanwhile Robyn Love decides to attend the weekend event as well. She loves all things Jane Austen but with her boyfriend Jace in tow it may not be such a great weekend after all. Jace doesn't understand Robyn's love of Austen and he isn't willing to compromise. When Robyn meets a man who not only willing to read Pride and Prejudice, but seems to care about her feelings, she is torn between them. The weekend reveals some hidden secrets, romantic moments and that finding love isn't always easy.
Victoria Connelly's book is somewhat different from most of the Austen inspired fiction that I've read. Typically, you get everything from prequels and sequels to variations and mash-ups, but A Weekend with Mr. Darcy doesn't seem to fit in any of those categories. Connelly isn't using Austen's original characters as characters in her own story, but as inspirations to her own complex and muli-layered heroines and heroes. She uses a Jane Austen conference as the backdrop for this funny, and entertaining novel. It kind of reminded me of how fanatical Star Trek fans are with their conventions and the like, LOL! I think it's a fantastic idea and I hope someone decides to hold a Jane Austen Addicts weekend in my neck of the woods. It was a perfect setting for romance and readers will find themselves wishing they could be at Purley Hall themselves.
I thought Connelly did an amazing job of referring and quoting Austen and her work throughout the novel. It is obvious that she is an Austen fan herself because of the reverence she gives Austen's work. Readers who are unfamiliar with Austen will still love this book as a great romantic comedy, but I think they will also find themselves learning a little bit about Austen and her work. I wouldn't be surprised if many readers who haven't taken the time to read Austen will be so inspired by this book, that they will dust off those old copies or be out buying new ones.
Connelly is true to Austen's original vision, for Pride and Prejudice. She gives the reader characters that may not be Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy but they have the same characteristics and ideals. Warwick is handsome, intelligent and loyal, much like Mr. Darcy and Katherine is outspoken and quick witted, much like Lizzy. I enjoyed reading their story very much. I was somewhat less enthused about Robyn's part of the story, mostly because of her relationship with Jace. In my opinion Jace is the George Wickham of the book. Robyn feels compelled to stay with him because of things that have happened in the past, but he comes across as high-handed and entitled, much like Wickham. I tend to shy away from characters that I don't particularly like, even though I know they are necessary to the story most of the time.
I recommend this book to two different groups of readers. Those who are already Austen fans and Austen inspired readers and to those who enjoy a light-hearted comic romance. You don't have to be an Austen addict to enjoy this one. It's full of humor and wit and moments that will definitely put a smile on your face. You might even learn a little bit about Austen and her work in the bargain!
A Weekend with Mr. Darcy is available NOW from your favorite bookseller.
I'm giving this one 4 out of 5 apples from my book bag!
Victoria Connelly's first novel was promoted in Germany to celebrate World Book Day and was adapted into a TV movie. Her second novel was published as a lead title in the UK and chosen as a "hot pick" in Closer magazine. Her new trilogy is her first foray into Jane Austen related fiction. Connelly lives in London.