Friday, 2 December 2011

Mr Darcy Takes a Wife - a review

I found this book on Amazon when I was looking for Darcy Porn. I don’t mean literal Porn, but just a P&P sequel with a lot of Darcy. So I ordered it thinking it sounded suitably Darcyish and silly. The back describes it as “Sexy, epic, hilarious, poignant and romantic.” Unfortunately it's none of these things. 

There are three reasons why this book is appalling (almost as much of an abomination as the 2005 P&P): The bad writing, what she does to the characters and the disturbing sex and childbirth scenes.

I’ll start with the language as this was the first thing that annoyed me. It is the worst kind of Austen imitation: “The brevity of their stop was in probability ultimately a good thing.” It would be one thing to talk like that as a joke, but to write it down? No no no. “Ultimately” is far too modern and jars against the fake Austen language. Austen had a very specific style, it is elegant and every word has been carefully chosen. That sentence with this authentic Austen sentence from Pride and Prejudice:”During dinner, Mr Bennet scarcely spoke at all; but when the servants were withdrawn, he thought it time to have some conversation with his guest, and therefore started a subject in which he expected to shine, by observing that he seemed very fortunate in his patroness.” Austen’s sentence is very long but it isn’t jammed full of pointless fillers like the sentence MDTAW. Also, PUNCTUATION! Another annoying thing Linda Berdoll does is use the word “betwixt” constantly, often wrongly. It drives me mad! Betwixt must be a word only really used by poets to make the line work. It’s not just her bizarre (mis)use of words and that is so upsetting, Berdoll also makes up all these bizarre terms “womanly portal” being just one of many.

Secondly, I don’t like how she’s written the characters or what happens to them. She makes Mr Bingley have an affair, we hear about Darcy losing his virginity and getting some servant pregnant when he was a young man. Worst of all, Lizzy loses all that makes her such a well loved character. She just flops about being horny ALL THE TIME and that’s all that happens. It’s boring. It’s stupid. I can’t remember all the awful things she makes the characters do, but I hate it. 

Now we come to the horror of the childbirth and sex. My problem is not the sex. I am no prude. I don’t think they’d have had some kind of celibate marriage! People need to remember that there’s no sex in Austen because of the time she was writing. Austen is not making some point about sex before marriage but reflecting the society she lived in. A time when there was no contraception, people were more religious, more women died in childbirth than from anything else – sex was a dangerous business.  This is just beneath the surface of all Austen’s novels. The danger of men like Wickham or Willoughby is their power to seduce young women. Austen’s characters are definitely sexual people – take Marianne Dashwood in S&S, she is such a passionate and romantic person, I believe she would have had sex with Willoughby, if he had asked her.

So no, I don’t have a problem with there being sex in this book. Of course Elizabeth and Darcy would have had sex. Theirs is not some strange asexual love that would have no physical expression! They are a happy newly-wed couple! But the sex in this book so badly written and cringeworthy. I am not going to copy out graphic bits, but here is a taster: “Either in lack of taking notice, or of caring, she knew not which, he made no indication he was aware she was eyeing his privates. She was happy for him to overlook such shamelessness and nestled impenitently against him.” AHHH I literally recoiled with horror from this book! And that's fairly tame by this book's standards. On the back it claims that fans will want to curl up and read it. It made my toes curl with embarrassment, does that count? 

The most disturbing bit in the whole book is when Lizzy is in labour. I have a history of being distressed by childbirth in books - reading A Gathering Light was probably what started the mild tokophobia I developed in my late teens. In MRTAW there is so much Childbirth horror (made worse by the fact the baby dies). I shall share with you a few choice quotes:

‘With the baby imbedded in the birth canal, refusing to turn and unable to come out, the hours of the night stole even indomitable Elizabeth’s strength.’

‘“Mr Darcy, you must know this. Elizabeth does not want you with her for fear it will excite your apprehension. She knows you are outside the door. She has stifled her cries in defence of your disorder. It is what she wants, but it is not good. She must get the baby out and she cannot push hard enough unless she wails.”’

‘Jane followed him into her room and lifted the lifeless baby from him. Hannah changed the bloody linens beneath Elizabeth and brought a basin of water. Jane returned, intending to cleanse her sister. Darcy motioned both Hannah and Jane aside, and with tender strokes, sponged the blood from her himself.’

Do you feel sick?

Why would you take your favourite book and your favourite character and do that to her!

So there you are. Badly written, disturbing and just plain dreadful.


  1. I'm disturbed by it all, but especially the bit that's like 'Elizabeth doesn't want you in there in case you freak out, AND she doesn't want to scream so you don't freak out because you're a delicate flower.' because I feel like 1) it just generally wouldn't have been the convention for the man to be in the birthing room, and 2) Lizzie would NOT have been afraid to scream. For reals.

    Also, eeek, womanly portal :s

  2. Oh no! Good to know - A friend had told me about this and I'm glad you wrote this review - sounds dreadful indeed :(

    Hope you have a happy holiday season <3