We heard from Kate, who reviewed Seducing Mr. Darcy on her blog and thought our readers might be interested to read it. We agree, and are happy to post a link. The plot sounds AWFULLY familiar…

Flip has to straighten out the book. Not only will she have ruined it for every reader in the world, but even worse the book will alter and alter until she, her fears, her actions, and every emotion she has will be public knowledge. Unfortunately the only person who might be able to help is a visiting Austen scholar, Magnus Knightley, a Brit who’s so much a dry interpretationalist of Austen that he can’t fathom why anyone reads it if not for the social satire. He reluctantly joins Flip for the mind-altering massage and astoundingly finds himself as Colonel Fitzwilliam, counselling a Mr Darcy who has been scorned and rejected by Lizzie the mere night before they should be marrying in the novel. And to make matters worse, Flip’s ex-husband and new teenaged girlfriend show up on the scene, co-starring as Wickham and Lydia. Will Magnus get the stick out of his ass and fall in love with Flip? Will ex-husband get his comeuppance? But most importantly: can the most beloved novel of English fiction be set to rights?

What is this recent passion to rip it apart in the first place, we have to ask? Is it some weird passive-aggressive reaction to P&P overload?

Review: There’s a lot of sex in this book.


A special note for strict interpretationalist Janeites: If you can’t bear adaptations or retellings, if you’re dead against ITV’s “Lost in Austen,” if you have no desire to see a mostly-naked Darcy (unless he’s Colin Firth, I understand), stay away.

*steps up on soapbox*

One does not have to be a strict interpretationist to be critical of these ancillary sort of projects. Do any other author’s fans go through such angst when popular culture occasionally co-opts their favorite? We’re with Karen Joy Fowler on this one: “Surely no one else’s fans have been scolded so often for so long over the wrong-headed ways they love her.”

However, we are of the opinion that these extraneous items should not be accepted just as they are, like Bridget Jones running through London in her knickers. Each should be judged and criticized on its individual merits. Every Janeite is not going to agree on the quality of a particular book or film or action figure, and some may wish to have nothing to do with them at all, but there is no reason to condemn them on general principles; but at the same time, we are impatient with the idea that “it’s not really Jane Austen so if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” Just because one doesn’t like a particular book, that does not mean one must dislike them all, and just because we are critical of certain projects doesn’t mean we are toffee-nosed snobs who can’t abide any of it. We just like quality. Perhaps our notions of quality are different from other Janeites’. 😉

The Austen diaspora is in a weird place when it comes to these ancillary items, and it is reflected in the either-or attitude. The Brontëans don’t hold their noses when they read Wide Sargasso Sea and the Shakespeare folks don’t freak out over A Thousand Acres or The Story of Edgar Sawtelle (at least we don’t think they do; feel free to disabuse us of our mistaken notions). But the Austen fandom hasn’t really had a Wide Sargasso Sea or A Thousand Acres or The Story of Edgar Sawtelle. The closest thing we’ve had, believe it or not, is The Jane Austen Book Club, which is probably the most literary piece of Austen paraliterature out there. Other fandoms have fan fiction, but you don’t find it for sale in Barnes & Noble. Quite frankly, we are presented with a lot of crap, and there is a tendency in some quarters to fall into a rather easy place of “if some of it is crap, it must all be crap.” And there is a tendency in some quarters to fall into another easy place of “I liked this movie with pretty people in nice costumes so I am going to like this other movie with pretty people in nice costumes, even if the plot has been manipulated so much that it no longer makes sense and it’s so cheaply done that one can see the metaphorical zipper on the back of the monster’s costume.”

We do support the creative folks who make these things–that’s why we started this blog! But we don’t think we’re doing ourselves or our fellow Janeites a favor by supporting projects uncritically. If we keep watching and reading and buying, The Powers That Be know we’ll take anything, and they don’t have to try very hard or spend much money or offer us the very top quality items. If, perhaps, we are critical of the lesser-quality items, if we maybe vote with our feet and our voices, we’ll get something better. Perhaps. Would it hurt to try?

(And this is not to pick on Kate–we really enjoyed the review!)