10 August 2009

Unfinished: Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife by Linda Berdoll

Summary: On the day after their wedding, Elizabeth Bennet and Mr. Darcy travel to Pemberley to begin their life together. Elizabeth learns to manage the household, ride for the hunt, and throw a ball. Although the Darcys are the focal point of the novel, we also learn about the marriages of Jane and Lydia and a bit about Wickham and Darcy as boys. Other familiar characters make an appearance as well.

Why I Abandoned the Book: I listened to just over a third of this 22-hour audiobook before I called it quits. It isn't that the novel is so bad, it's just that it seemed to be going nowhere. The story alternated between blissful love scenes with the Darcys to several other plot lines involving Wickham, the Bingleys, a man servant, Darcy's ex-mistress, and others. Perhaps there were too many subplots, but I found it difficult to connect with the novel, and I had no clear idea of where the book was going. I think I ended up being a bit bored.

A Quick Look at Reviews: I checked several commercial book sites and book cataloging sites and discovered that Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife averages a 3.5-star rating. I found a few 5-star reviews in Library Thing: A couple of them mentioned that the plot does come together by the end, so it is possible that I gave up too soon. This book was also reviewed by Katherine at A Girl Walks into a Bookstore (2-star rating).

Note that I am not an Austen purist, and I normally enjoy the Austen spin-offs. For example, I liked the movie Lost in Austen (review here), I loved Clueless, and I loved the book Confessions of a Jone Austen Addict. I just didn't like Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife. In case you're wondering, the audio was read by Rosalyn Landor, who did a nice job.

Question for my Readers: What Austen-inspired novels or movies would you recommend?

Published by Sourcebooks, 2004
ISBN-13: 9781402202735


Serena 8/10/09, 8:08 AM  

I really liked Mr. Darcy's Diary and Mr. Darcy, Vampyre by Amanda Grange.

Some others I've liked include Pemberley by the Sea by Abigail Reynolds, Me & Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter, and Lydia Bennet's Story by Jane Odiwe.

Some are fluffier than others, but I like a little variety.

Julie P. 8/10/09, 8:17 AM  


Sandy Nawrot 8/10/09, 8:29 AM  

Well put Beth. 22 audios is more of a commitment than most, and I would want to be sure there would be a payoff. Personally, I am put off by the Austen spin-offs. I know it is silly, because you all have reviewed some wonderful examples of them. But I just can't bring myself to read them. Yet. I am still in my Austen honeymoon phase right now.

Kristen 8/10/09, 9:24 AM  

I read and reviewed this one under it's original title of The Bar Sinister. I definitely didn't love it either (although as a compulsive finisher, I did finish it). I am a complete sucker for Austen though and cheerfully shell out money for most of the "sequels" that come out. Not sure I've found any to be completely rave worthy but recently I enjoyed Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil Brinton (the first published "sequel" which unites characters from many of Austen's works) and Seducing Mr. Darcy (with the caveat that P&P is really the jumping off place for this one as it's a steamy romance set in modern times where the characters mess with the plotline of P&P with disastrous consequences).

Beth F 8/10/09, 9:27 AM  

Thanks for the suggestions!

Kristen: I didn't think to look for reviews under the book's original title (duh!). I don't mind the messing with the plot or the sex and romance. But I want a plot that is going somewhere -- even somewhere silly.

Unknown 8/10/09, 10:56 AM  

Have you read the Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde? It is very unusual - not sure it is your sort of thing, but I'd love to know what you thought of it!

It isn't my sort of thing either - it was mad! but in a weird way I loved it. I haven't gone on to read the rest of the series though, so maybe it wasn't that good - or maybe my TBR pile is just too big!

Beth F 8/10/09, 11:06 AM  

Jackie: I loved the Eyre Affair! And I've always meant to read more in the series. But then I started blogging and my TBR grew and . . . well, you know the story.

Anonymous,  8/10/09, 12:27 PM  

That far in and I hate to abandon a book. Sometimes, it's best though. Why struggle through something you don't like? Life is too short.

Shafar 8/10/09, 2:19 PM  

Very interesting and unique blog! Wishing you the best. :)


Melanie 8/10/09, 2:43 PM  

The novel does come together a bit at the end. I want to read the book's sequel because by the end there's so much going on, and while some of it is resolved, there's definitely still plenty of questions.

As for other Austen-esque books I've enjoyed, I liked Captain Wentworth's diary by Amanda Grande as well as Impulse and Initiative by Abigail Reynolds.

Aarti 8/10/09, 3:42 PM  

I have seen this book but never picked it up. I think there is a sequel, too, isn't there?

I haven't really liked many Austen spin-offs myself, though I didn't *dislike* Letters from Pemberley. I think I just like to imagine the lives of my favorite characters in my mind sometimes in a daydream, rather than reading about them.

Heidenkind 8/10/09, 5:17 PM  

I read Mr. & Mrs. Fitzwilliam Darcy and had a similar problem, although I did finish the book and found it very romantic. That one averaged out to an okay for me.

jessi 8/10/09, 5:22 PM  

I haven't really had a desire to read this particular series (a friend of mine described it as "Austen, but with sex," which completely horrified me), although I do enjoy other Austen spin-offs. The Amanda Grange "Diary" books and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies are favorites of mine, and I love Jasper Fforde's novels, too.

Beth F 8/10/09, 5:29 PM  

Thanks again for the suggestions, everyone. I'm glad there is a variety to pick from for the Everything Austen challenge. I'm not expecting prize-winning literature; I'm all for some fun reading. After all, I own P&P and Zombies, which I' plan to read this fall.

Beth Kephart 8/10/09, 8:46 PM  

I adore your honesty.

The Reading Momster 8/10/09, 8:48 PM  

I am glad you told us this, another one can be avoided.
I just recently started reading!

Melody 8/10/09, 11:27 PM  

I've this book in my pile... guess it'll take a while before I'll pick up this book!

bermudaonion 8/11/09, 10:15 AM  

That does sound pretty dull and it sounds like you gave it a fair chance.

Belle 8/11/09, 1:11 PM  

I'm listening to Austenland right now and it's pretty good so far. Great narrator. I really want to watch Lost in Austen, and I have P&P and Zombies in my TBR pile.

Beth F 8/11/09, 1:16 PM  

Belle: I listened to Austenland too -- that was fun audio. And you're right that it was well read.

Dawn @ sheIsTooFondOfBooks 8/11/09, 7:01 PM  

Love both of Laurie Viera Rigler's books (CONFESSIONS and RUDE AWAKENINGS), esp the second, which pulled everything together for me.

I don't know a lot about Austen's novels. I've read them, years ago, but should revisit so I "get" a lot more of the references in these followups.

I'm reading MURDER AT LONGBOURNE now ... another spin off of sorts.

Bernadette 8/11/09, 11:47 PM  

I'm not a huge fan of any kind of spin-offs but even I am tempted to read P&P & Zombies. I do tend to like movie spin-offs (Clueless is a fun movie and I like the Indian-style one that's a take-off of the Bennetts but I can't remember the name of the movie)

Jess 8/12/09, 8:12 AM  

This was not my favorite either. You should try Austenland by Shannon Hale, it is a fun and quick read.

Beth F 8/12/09, 8:15 AM  

Thanks for the suggestion, Jess -- I read Autenland last year and thought it was a light and fun novel.

Anonymous,  8/12/09, 3:46 PM  

Bummer that this one wasn't really going anywhere! I often feel like that when I'm reading... if I'm 100 pages in and absolutely nothing seems to be happening, I get so frustrated!

I'm reading a really cute Austenesque novel right now called Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman. It's young adult, but very well-written!

S. Krishna 8/13/09, 10:02 PM  

Hmm...I may still give this one a try because I have it on my shelves, but I'm glad I know that there's a lot going on. That way I'll be more willing to stick with it in case that bothers me while I'm reading it!

Unknown 8/14/09, 10:28 AM  

I read this and was horrified. Any Austen inspired novel that contains the phrase, "He entered her womanly portal..." should not be allowed. However, being a compulsive book finisher, I made it to the end and then forced the book upon a friend, so that I would not have to suffer alone. Someone else had to experience what I just had! A better choice is "An Assembly Such as This" by Pamela Aiden. It was a pretty good Austen/P&P companion book. It took the plot of P&P and showed it to you from the point of view of Mr. Darcy. It is part of a trilogy.

Heather G. 8/31/09, 11:18 PM  

I second Erin that the Pamela Aiden series was delightful!

Anonymous,  12/22/11, 7:28 AM  

I agree that this book seemed a little all over the place. Plus, I just couldn't deal with the Darcy had an affair with his maid when he was 14 storyline. I think I must have given up before you did. I was surprised at how many 3-5 star ratings this book received, perhaps I am simply not the right audience?

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