Janet Aylmer,
Darcy's Story
(Harper, 2006)

Janet Aylmer had the intriguing idea of retelling Jane Austen's best-loved book from the perspective of its hero. Darcy's Story is Pride & Prejudice as seen through the eyes of Fitzwilliam Darcy, the snooty aristocrat who almost loses and finally wins the book's unforgettable heroine, Elizabeth Bennet.

It was a good idea, and in more competent hands, it might have made a good book. Unfortunately, Aylmer's retelling of the story involves lifting not just paragraphs, but whole pages of Pride & Prejudice verbatim. She adds almost nothing to our perception of Darcy as an individual. The scene between Darcy and Wickham, for instance, when Darcy confronts Wickham over his seduction of Lydia without any intention of marrying her, could have been expanded to give us new insights into both characters; Aylmer dismisses the whole incident in a few banal paragraphs. And Aylmer's abilities as a writer in general leave a lot to be desired; the grammatical errors and punctuation gaffes in this book should have been dealt with by a competent editor before they ever saw the light of day. Austen would be turning somersaults in her grave.

Ultimately, Darcy's Story reads like an inferior version of Pride & Prejudice. It's poorly written and poorly contrived. Aylmer should have heeded the time-honored dictum before attempting to retell this story: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

by Judy Lind
21 October 2006

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