Sunday, December 31, 2006

Book Review: The Man Who Loved Jane Austen

I must preface this review with a disclaimer because this book was given to me as a gift for Christmas. I very much appreciated the gift as it was a book with a jacket synopsis that probably would have made me want to buy the book myself. Little did I know from that summary that the book itself was so utterly ridiculous.

The premise of this book was admitedly intriguing. Was there really a Fitzwilliam Darcy? Did Jane Austen base that famous romantic hero on a real person in her life? In The Man Who Loved Jane Austen, that is the precise question at issue. Eliza, a modern-day heroine, is a New York artist who purchases an antique vanity only to take it home and discover two letters hidden inside, presumably written from a Fitzwilliam Darcy to a Jane Austen in 1810 Hampshire. That plotline itself interested me because it was similar to Lauren Willig's Pink Carnation series which I enjoy. But Willig (thankfully!) omits something from her book that O'Roarke just can't resist. And that thing is a plot device which rhymes with "grime gravel," something that incidentally, I hate with a passion that will never die. Why, you ask? BECAUSE IT NEVER WORKS! I am once again proven right in this book because if plots were analogous to bowls, then the plot in this book would be this:

In addition to the lame plot line that was industriously hidden in the jacket description, O'Roarke's writing is amaturish and unpolished. There was a lot of potential in her hero that I felt went undeveloped. And the Jane Austen storyline itself was so dull and boring that I skipped over what I think was supposed to the be the most climactic part. Everyone loves Jane Austen, and that's understandable, but this recent outgrowth of books based upon either Elizabeth and Darcy from Pride and Prejudice or (apparently) Austen herself is a little too much for me. Austen is loved to this day because she was a great writer and these "tributes" are, in my opinion, sullying her good name. O'Roarke writes in her dedication that she thinks Austen would have been agreeable to the insipid story O'Roarke has created about her life, but I couldn't help but think that Austen would have been horrified and embarrassed by the way her name was used.

Lindsey's Grade: C- (maybe even my first D+ on this site)

1 comment:

Shannon & Aaron said...

How can I post books on your website?