Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for There’s Something About Darcy by Gabrielle Malcolm. Thanks to Hannah at Endeavour Media for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my review copy.
About the Book
For some, Colin Firth emerging from a lake in that clinging wet shirt is one of the most iconic moments in television. What is it about the two-hundred-year-old hero that we so ardently admire and love?
Dr Malcolm examines Jane Austen’s influences in creating Darcy’s potent mix of brooding Gothic hero, aristocratic elitist and romantic Regency man of action. She investigates how he paved the way for later characters like Heathcliff, Rochester and even Dracula, and what his impact has been on popular culture over the past two centuries. For twenty-first century readers the world over have their idea of the ‘perfect’ Darcy in mind when they read the novel and will defend their choice passionately.
In this insightful and entertaining study, every variety of Darcy jostles for attention: vampire Darcy, digital Darcy, Mormon Darcy and gay Darcy. Who does it best and how did a clergyman’s daughter from Hampshire create such an enduring character?
Format: Paperback, ebook Publisher: Endeavour Quill
Publication date: 11th November 2019 Genre: Nonfiction, Literary Criticism
Find There’s Something About Darcy on Goodreads
There were many elements I enjoyed in this exploration of the continuing literary and cultural influence of the hero of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. For instance, Gabrielle Malcolm traces the influence of earlier authors – Samuel Richardson, Ann Radcliffe and others – on the creation of the character of Darcy. I also liked the way the author examined the growth of Darcy’s character throughout the novel. I wouldn’t have minded more of this type of close reading and textual analysis, although perhaps that’s the former Open University MA English student coming out in me!
The sections where the author explores contemporary reaction to Pride and Prejudice were fascinating. Charlotte Bronte had mixed feelings apparently although Dr. Malcolm argues Edward Rochester, the hero of Jane Eyre, and Darcy have much in common. However, she also goes on to point out key differences between them.
I confess I found some of the detours into figures like Beau Brummell and Sir Henry Irving less interesting and the plot summaries of novels such as The Scarlet Pimpernel and the works of Georgette Heyer a little too detailed. However, I enjoyed the author’s analysis of Pride and Prejudice sequels such as the highly-regarded Longbourn by Jo Baker, the definitely less well-regarded (by Austen fans at least) Pemberley by Emma Tennant, and of the various TV/film adaptations of Pride and Prejudice, including of course the one with ‘that scene’.
In support of the numerous sequels, spin-offs and retellings of Pride and Prejudice, many of which the author explores in some detail, Gabrielle Malcolm makes the persuasive argument that Austen’s own letters reveal she imagined a future for Darcy and Elizabeth. I think we can safely assume that had she written her own sequel it would not have involved zombies…
Along the way, Gabrielle Malcolm addresses what she terms ‘the Darcy problem’, namely why would a young woman as intelligent as Elizabeth be attracted to such a proud, arrogant man? She concludes that Darcy symbolises ‘an ideal of authority, honesty and protection’ and argues he will endure for years to come because readers are drawn to the idea of a hero who shows ‘his inner sensitivity beneath the tough, proud, awkward, sometimes cruel, exterior’.
The publishers describe There’s Something About Darcy as ‘a must-read for every Darcy and Jane Austen fan’. The final chapters of the book in which the author explores the rise of fan fiction and its various manifestations are likely to appeal to those looking for recommendations to satisfy their appetite for new twists on Pride and Prejudice and Darcy in particular.
Although for me there were a few too many detours from the main subject, There’s Something About Darcy is an interesting, in-depth look at the appeal and afterlife of Austen’s most well-known fictional hero.
In three words: Detailed, informative, insightful
Try something simgailar: The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things
by Paula Byrne
About the Author
Dr. Gabrielle Malcolm lectures and writes about Jane Austen in popular culture and the global fan phenomena surrounding Austen’s work.
She is the author of Fan Phenomena: Jane Austen and is a regular speaker at the annual Jane Austen Festival in Bath, and the Jane Austen Regency Week in Chawton. She lives in Bath.
Connect with Gabrielle