Sunday, 15 November 2009

Dancing with Mr Darcy

Dancing with Mr Darcy is quite difficult to review because it's lots of short stories written by lots of different authors, so while I liked one story, I didn't necessarily like the next.
The principal behind the book was a short story competition, whereby people had to submit stories that were either influenced by the works of Jane Austen or by Chawton House.

As I say, it's difficult to review the book as a whole because there are so many different authors and stories, so I'll pick out a few that stood out for me in one way or another.

Jane Austen over the Styx by VIctoria Owens. This is the story that opens the book, so you need something that's going to keep the reader interesting and encourage them to read the rest of the book. I don't know that I'd label this as the best book in the collection, but I did rather enjoy it. It tells the story of Jane Austen's trial after her death, where her prosecutors are her elderly female characters, I liked the concept of the story and it was quite an enjoyable few pages.

Jayne by Kirsty Mitchell. I have to say that I'm not sure whether all die hard Austen fans will like this one, although I thought it was an interesting take. Taking Jane's view and money and wealth this story follows Jayne as she makes the money to pay her way through her education and what lengths she goes to. Personally I found it one of the most enjoyable stories in the collection, but I think there is a slightly hard edge to it that will put people off, as will Jayne's way of making money.

Tears Fall of Orkney by Nancy Saunders. I'm sorry Ms Saunders, but I couldn't see where you were going with this one. I understand the inspiration and how you came up with the story, but I kept waiting for it to actually start or for something to explain what was going on. It's a tale of unrequited love, but I personally couldnt work out how this character had allowed herself to become so dellusioned in the first place, and consequently found it very frustrating.

Eight Years Later by Elaine Grotefield. To my mind the most 'Austen' story of the collection, a story that Jane would have been proud of, and also, as far as I can remember, the only one written by from a male pont of view. I proper Austen love story, really liked it.

One Character in Search of her Love Story Role by Felicity Cowie. I have rather mixed feelings about this, I loved the concept (really wish I'd thought of it first) but I'm not so sure about the writing style. The premise is that authors do not write characters, characters send reports of what they have been doing to their author, and as such, before they can send reports, they go to 'shadow' other literary characters to learn from them. A fabulous and, to me, very original idea. I had two main problems with this. Felicity Cowie was a little over fond of footnotes, sometimes taking as much as half a page for a foot note which got on my nerves, and I lost interest half way through. The character shadows Jane Bennett which was a lovely and rather touching conversation but when she started to shadow Jane Eyre, I started to lose interest. I don't know why, Jane Eyre is probably one of my favourite books, but I found that I couldnt warm to the Jane that Ms Cowie wrote and couldn't believe that she would speak like that.

I haven't mentioned all the stories in the collection, just a few that stood out to me for whatever reason. Overall if you are an Austen fan then I probably would recommend reading this, if only to see what takes other people have on the characters, ideas and situations that develop from Jane Austen's work


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