Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Feature Review: "Mr. Darcy, Vampyre," By Amanda Grange

By Amy Kennedy, RBTB Contributing Editor

Darcy, Darcy, Darcy! It’s always Darcy!

I’ve been thinking about Austen's most famous hero, too. How could I not when everywhere I turn there’s another book related to, based on, or continuing the story of ‘Pride and Prejudice.”

I’m not complaining – hardly that – I love “Pride and Prejudice,” and all its characters. But the real truth is the one universally acknowledged by many readers: We can’t get our fill of Darcy.

Mr. Darcy, Vampyre” -- a thought provoking and seductively gothic tale written by Amanda Grange -- helps fill our Darcy void and makes us want to slap our foreheads and say, Yes, of course he was a vampire; that explains so much of all that brooding.

The novel begins as Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy marry. But it’s not exactly Elizabeth’s dream come true. After the ceremony Darcy receives messages, presumably from well-wishers, and as he reads them on the way to the wedding breakfast, Elizabeth sees Darcy evince a look of pure love one moment followed by one of abject torment the next.

Then, practically mid-carriage ride, Darcy changes their plans from traveling to the Lake District, to traveling to France, on to his uncle, The Count’s castle (cue the darkly melodious music), and finally to Italy. He says he needs to discuss a familial situation.

During the tour Elizabeth tries to be excited, she really does, but she’s growing concerned; Darcy hasn’t made her his wife “in truth.” Is he fearful for her well-being, or is it something more ominous? Because omens do follow them. Elizabeth fears several unexplained events really are portents: A bat beats at her bedroom window, an angry mob storms the castle, and a mysterious stranger enters her dark dreams, dreams which suddenly feel too real.

In Italy, Elizabeth has had enough. She concludes Darcy must think he’s made a mistake in marrying her. With outside urging she finally takes matters into her own hands, causing a series of incidences that either will lead to wedded bliss -- or the death of her Darcy.

Grange has continued a beloved story and added a darkly clever twist. She doesn’t let the reader down as she draws us deeper into the mystery that is Darcy. Grange makes us wonder what other classics we might have been wrong about.

I'd say, any reader in possession of a great imagination will want to

Buy the book.

How do you feel about adding revised story lines to your classics: Could you not care less, or are you thrilled? And which character from a classic is begging to be re-imagined?
Amanda Grange GuestBlogs at RBTB Tomorrow, Wed Aug 5!
For more paranormal fun, head to "Heart to Heart" for Michelle's exclusive, first-look Sherrilyn Kenyon interview and "Dark Moon Rising" dish! DMR drops today!


Myrin said...

Hm, actually, I like the idea of reversed storylines. However, I can't stop asking myself how the author of the "real" book, the classic, would feel about it. I know that I definitely wouldn't want another author to use the characters I invented and make another story with them.

Lorraine Heath's Scoundrels of St. James series comes to mind here. The protagonists aren't really those of Oliver Twist (or at least it's never really said they are) but definitely based upon them - or the other way around, because Mr. Dickens himself appears in one of the books and the reader understands that he actually based his characters of Oliver Twist on the characters in Ms. Heath's books. Huh, I never thought it would be so confusing!

Stacy~ said...

I am one of those who strongly dislikes all the variations of a well-known book written by other authors. Some things shouldn't be tampered with, imho. I know we all want more Darcy, or Scarlett, or whoever, but I feel cheated when someone takes an established piece of literature and uses it to create their own world. It's like cheating, in a way. I know there are copyrights that expire and it's done in the movies all the time, but come on. "Pride & Prejudice" and "Gone With the Wind" are literary classics. I don't want to read anyone else's "rest of the story". Especially not if zombies are involved.

In all fairness I did read "Scarlett", which is probably not the best example, and hated it. Thus my distain for tampering with the classics was born LOL.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! Thanks, Amy, for writing this cool feature. I'd been so curious about this novel pretty much for the same connection you joked about: brooding. :) And it sounds like the gothic flavor really adds to the creepy-crawly factor. I know you love gothics and I wonder, do you find this book really dark? Or kinda gothic-lite?

I'm excited for everyone to meet Amanda Grange when she GuestBlogs tomorrow! She's the international bestselling author of "Mr Darcy's Diary," and really jazzed to be meeting you Bellas.

Stace, I didn't know this about you! Lots of folks feel as you do. And I could never get over how many authors look to movies as inspiration for books. Some folks do find it fun to see their faves riffed on, from fairy tales to stories from sacred texts (The Red Tent, etc).

I do like twists on classics and really dug Mr Darcy Takes a Wife which caused more than one Austen fan to have the vapors, but many others to say, oh, yes! I'd always knew he'd be lusty!

LisaK, I love the Scoundrels of St James series and thought it was a twist on 19th C sentimentality to have Dickens appear in the last novel. Not sure whether Heath meant it that way, of course, but that's what occurred to me. I can't wait for Swindler's story.

Your question 'bout how the author would have felt is a great one! Maybe it'd be like today where authors either file suit cause they feel they deserve damages (it's a business, after all) or others who feel imitation is the highest form of flattery.

I think many of the authors who riff on classics do so in tribute, not to denigrate. But one person's imitation is another's sacrilege, I guess.

amy kennedy said...

Lisak, good point, what would Austen think? And the Heath books -- I gotta read those, I know, I know -- didn't realize she really twisted it with Dickens showing up in one of the books.

Stacy, obviously, you're entitled to your opinion, but I wonder if, like you said, maybe you chose the "wrong" sequel.

I read some Jane Austen mysteries a long time ago -- the main character was Jane Austen, loved those. And then Stacy, the sequel I read to GWTW was The Wind Done Gone. It was beautifully written and gave you a completely different perspective.

I love Carrie Bebris' mysteries following the Darcys -- her first, "Pride and Pescience," again, so well written and true to Austen.

So Stacy, I suppose that means the second part of the question won't be answered, 'cuz you don't want anyone messin' with your classics.

amy kennedy said...

Yeah Michelle, I was thinking the same thing -- highest form of flattery. Think how many fairy tales are used as a jumping off point for plots.

I don't see it as cheating though, especially if the author takes it and makes it their own. I can compartmentalize the original from the sequel/prequel or para-quel (made up word meaning: classic made paranormal) and not have a problem with any of them, as long as they're well written.

Michelle, gothic-dark or gothic-lite? I think MDV travels between the two -- a wishy-washy answer for you, probably if I had read it while it storming, I would have leaned more towards the darker, but since I read it pool-side...well, you get the idea.

amy kennedy said...

I have to go to Soccer, but I'll be back.

Second part of question.
I'm thinkin' Mr. Rochester, from Jane Eyre, as a werewolf, he was so beast-like to begin with.

Charlotte Featherstone said...

I like the idea of taking the classics and adding a little spin to them. This storyline seems brilliant to me. I've been trying to get my grubby little mits on this book, but Chapters.ca has it 'temporaily unable to order'. So as soon as it's available, though, I'm buying it!

And Rochester as a werewolf???? Oh, be still my beating heart! He was SUCH a beast!!!!

I think doing something with Byron would be cool. He was naughty, yet his poetry was romantic and sensual. Not sure what he could be though. Vampire is too trite since his contemporaries had already made that association. :)

shawn said...

well.. since I happen to be looking for a good book to read.. you make this one seem really good.. after reading the whole Twilight thing.. and rereading Harry... (give me a break.. remember I have a 12 year old)... I will have to now go and get this book.. it will have to wait until later today though....

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

lol, shawn, on the Harry. Just saw the movie this weekend and kept trying to decide whether I was ok w/all the snogging. Does that make me a prude? Never say it! Amy's got me dying for this one, too, 'specially cause of all that sensual tension, cuase Mr Darcy ain't 'takin' his wife, apparently, in this one, least not in the way of the Berdoll I spoke of before. Please let us know what you think, ok?

Charlotte! Hi! Let me check w/the publicist re where it might be available in CA...

Amy, did you make up that word? We love made up words here. But I believe it's "para-quelositousness." Sorry to correct you in front of everyone. :)

LizbethSelvig said...

Especially with the classics, where the worry of what an author would think is sort of a moot point, I figure a good continuation is just fun food for the imagination.

But, having admitted in the past that I'm a confirmed contemporary girl, I have to say the ideas for continuations aren't limited to classics. For example, I've always wanted to write a sequel to the movie "Witness" (cheating, cuz it isn't a book, I know). I always wanted to know what happened after John Book left cuz I sure as heck didn't want Rachel to end up with boring old Daniel.

Hmmm, guess that's why there's such a prevalence of fan fiction out there!

Myrin said...

Michelle said: whether I was ok w/all the snogging

Teehee, I know that word from yesterday. "Sucking faces", isn't it? Oh, there's no better way to learn new vocabulary than reading about it on a romance blog!

Something that matches today's topic: Everyone in my age group must write that scientific work to be accepted for graduation next year. You can choose one of your two Leistungskurse (that are those two subjects that are most important for you) to write that work in. Mine are German and Arts. I decided to write that so called "Facharbeit" in Arts, only that I must write less than others because I actually paint - I'm about to ban the Seven Deadly Sins in oil on canvas and like they are nowadays.
But that only as background information (I know, my background information needs quite some space here, sigh).
Had I chosen German for my Facharbeit, I would have liked to write a modern version of Goethe's Faust. Somehow I came to love that novel (I can citate the stupidest things, but I sound clever *g*) and really wondered what it would be like to transform it into a 21st century thing.

But again, who knows if Goethe's ghost would hunt me down after that?

Becke Davis said...

I've changed the way I think about this subject. I really did NOT like the books that took up where Agatha Christie left off. The main reason I dislike them is not so much for the writing, but for the fact that they are shelves among the REAL Agatha Christie's in bookstores with little to distinguish between the two. To me, that verges on fraudulent marketing.

I also disliked it when books with Robert Ludlum's name on the cover continued to be published long after he was dead.

On the other hand, when I read Laurie R. King's Mary Russell books (The Beekeeper's Apprentice, etc.) - I adored them. I had never been a fan of Sherlock Holmes, and her books were/are so wonderful, I actually began to feel some affection for the originals.

I know there has been a recent case where J.D. Salinger successfully forced the withdrawal of a book purporting to tell the story of Holden Caulfield's life, long after Catcher in the Rye. Don't know if I agree with the courts, but if the author of the original books were still alive, I think that would put a different spin on things.

In this case, though, I am intrigued by the premise and I'm sure I'll be reading this book!

When a story takes a classic and moves beyond it, I don't have a problem with it. I might, though, if the new story changed the original too drastically.

Jeannie said...

Great review, Amy. The idea of Mr. Darcy as vampire (vampyre) is really a natural one: the brooding, the mysterious disappearances and absences, the sudden reappearances in times of trouble...it all fits!

I, too, have greatly enjoyed the Berdoll books further chronicling the married life of the Darcy and Bennett families. (And I defy anyone not to find the demise of Mr. Collins both hilarious and strangely perfect.)

I have, though, read some "sequels" that have been very disappointing and, in my mind, untrue to the vision of the original author. In those cases, I can't help feeling badly for the author and her/his family, not to mention devoted readers.

So, no answers to the dilemma of how or even if sequels should be written.

Perhaps authors should be required to vet their work through RBTB!

amy kennedy said...

Charlotte -- I know! Rochester would make a most excellent werewolf.

Shawn, no one here would give you a hard time about Harry...

Michelle, I did make-up that word, but I have a better one (probably not as good as yours, though) para(eek!)quel

Oh yeah, Lizees couldn't agree more, she deserved so much more. They should have been together, but then their opposing societies would have reared their ugly heads, and it would have ended in a bitter divorce. Or not.

Lisak -- now who's making up words? Just kidding, I love both words, but "Facharbeit" is my favorite. And a modern Faust, yes.

Becke, I think I like the Laurie R King books better than the original Sherlocke Holmes books because of Mary Russell. She doesn't take any crap from him.

amy kennedy said...

Jeannie -- brilliant idea I think. But, truly, it goes beyond the "ideas," and is entirely in the talents of the author. The idea of Darcy as a vampire is a good one, but the execution of it could have been dreadful.

Thankfully, it was brilliant.

Myrin said...

Amy, how do you feel about learning a little German? *g* If "Facharbeit" (literally translated it would be "subject work") makes you smile, there are certainly other words you'd like even more.

amy kennedy said...

Yes, yes, give them to me, make me smile.

My grandmother was of German descent, but didn't have too many words of it. And my husband took German in school, but that was...a few years ago.

See now, I would have thought Facharbeit would mean something like, best work.

Becke Davis said...

I'm intrigued by the idea of a modern day Faust.

The more I think about it, the more modern takes on classics come to mind. Look at all the books and movies based on Romeo and Juliet, for instance, or Taming of the Shrew. I'm fine with all of those!

amy kennedy said...

Becke, I loved seeing the more recent (meaning, 10 years ago) Romeo and Juliet in theatres, set in contemprary times but with the exact words of Shakespeare's play.

EmilyBryan said...

Mr. Darcy Vampyre is a unique twist to say the least. Kudos for inventiveness!

That said, I think the reason some of us resist "add ons" to our favorite stories is that we already have a solid notion of the characters and what they may still be up to. We might not have written it down, but we know what their life together will be like. Reading someone else's version is a smack-down to our own imagined future for those characters.

However, this one sounds so far removed from anything I'd come up with for Elizabeth and Darcy, I might be able to enjoy it as a true flight of fancy.

ev said...

I think it depends, for me. I have never been interested in the alternate universe types of sci-fi (where germany wins, or things like that) but I have been very interested in the various takes on P&P. Especially, P&P&Z. So this one really looks interesting to me.

Can't wait to read it. Hopefully in digital. Must go look.

amy kennedy said...

Emily, so true, I haven't written it down, but I have thought about "what they're doing now," my own epilogue. But, I've also wished for different endings...

I'm thinking once you read this, you'll see how Ms. Grange, could have made this leap.

Ev, I so want to read Pride & Prejudice & Zombies...do you want to tell us a little bit?

Tiona said...

Hey, Bellas! Welcome, Amanda!
Well,I have never read a classic that was redone or added to, but, knowing Jane Austin's work and her sense of humor, I can only assume she would find it hilarious that Mr. Darcy is found out to be a vampyre. Since seeing works like this, as long as they don't detract from the original story, I have been very curious to read them and see what they're like. They are, in fact, rather nods to those great authors we love! Go, people!
(Bevarly Hills, that's where I want to be...) *sigh* Missing L.A. here! If you couldn't tell, hehe!

amy kennedy said...

Hi Princess -- so, why don't you move there? Your brother's there, why can't you be there?

And, you're right, they are nods to those authors we love.

You always make me laugh.

Tiona said...

Lol, Amy! Thanks! I'm here to please. As to why I don't move now, I don't think it's the right time. Besides, I'm from a very different town, small and easy-paced. I'm afraid that L.A. would lose it's novelty if I lived out there. but, you never know. I mean, I'll have to put up with my brother and Matt and be treated like a Princess the whole time...Ok, maybe I should move out there, hehe.

ev said...

Amy- No, I will manage to spoil it, believe me. I am good at that, so I don't tell anyone movie plots either. LOL

Princess- my daughter is in LA. I like to visit but don't think I would want to live there either. It's more fun to visit and then back to my slower paced life here in NY

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