This is yet another reworking of Pride and Prejudice and it is the best that I have come across so far. It is, as the title says, Mr Darcy’s diary. It is his side of the story and because it is told in the first person, we get to see and hear his thoughts as well as his words and actions. The original tells you nothing at all about Darcy’s thoughts, so this required quite a bit of imagination and I think Amanda Grange pulled off very convincingly.
There is a lot of the story in Pride and Prejudice that happens off screen, as it were…Wickham’s attempt to elope with Georgiana, Darcy’s attempts to find Wickham and Lydia, Lady Catherine trying to convince Darcy to give up Elizabeth and most importantly, Darcy’s change of heart as he begins to realise just how badly he had behaved while proposing to Elizabeth…all of these scenes are fleshed out here. And done well, at that.
Unlike Austen, Amanda Grange does not stop at the point when Darcy and Elizabeth get married. She gives us a look at their life in Premberley, their life as a couple which I liked quite a bit. There is also a surprising and an entirely satisfying new pairing.
But I found myself wondering as I read this if it could be a stand alone novel, if someone who hadn’t read Pride and Prejudice could read this and understand all of the goings on and get a flavor of the original. Honestly, I don’t think so. It works well as a companion volume, it is complimentary to the original, but it cannot stand alone.
Amanda Grange has been very faithful to Austen and she has not deviated from the original except to make a couple of small additions. The characters are much the same, though I think she softened Darcy a little. Both the language and the tone of the narrative recall the original…
I have one complaint, though. One of the things that made Pride and Prejudice so special was the character of Elizabeth Bennett. She is so vividly written. She gets a bit lost in this book. We hear a lot about Darcy’s admiration for her, but we only hear her in the dialogue which she has with him or someone around him and that is just not enough to paint the vivacious picture of her that Austen did.
Nonetheless, it was a thoroughly enjoyable read.