Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy" by Mary Street Review

I am deeply apologetic for my long absence. As we all know, Christmas season is often a busy time. My family has been a great priority, and bonding with various relatives left me little time to get away on my own with the computer. Darcy December is steadily coming to it's close and I regret to admit that I didn't achieve as much with it as I might have liked. I intended to do much more with comparisons as well as book and movie reviews, but time slipped away from me. It's for that reason that I've decided to extend my focus on Jane Austen and Darcy into January as well, so Darcy December will make a smooth transformation into Jane Austen January. I'm sorry for the cheesy alliterations, but they fit well enough.
I've decided to take a break from the P&P adaptations for a moment. I can review the remaining two any time in the future. However, I feel the pressing need to review these various P&P spin-offs during the course of Darcy December and Jane Austen January because there are so many of them and (admittedly) because If I don't do it now, I might not ever have the will to do it in the future. According to the poll you guys most graciously completed a few weeks ago, it seems as though a unanimous vote named The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy by Mary Street the novel you would most like to see me review. It's funny that you would say that, by the way, because that spin-off happens to be the second one I read which pretty much keeps my reviews in chronological order. 

P.S: Please, I'd love to see more participation in the polls. I know I update them irregularly, but keep a weary eye out for them. :)

Once again, there seems to be no need to explain the plot of The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Its title is also self-explanatory. Unlike Mr. Darcy's Diary, this spin-off is not told in diary format or even in the first-person perspective for that matter. There is an omniscient narrator like that in Pride and Prejudice, but for this particular novel the narrator chose only to follow the experiences and emotions of Mr. Darcy. I personally liked the idea. Telling such a story in third person drastically reduces the stereotypical cheesiness of a typical spin-off. In all other aspects, there's no real differentiating benefit. 

The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy is decidedly better than Mr. Darcy's Diary. There are more details, more stretches of the imagination, and more moments of intrigue in Mary Street's take than the latter novel had to offer. I've become mildly aware that authors of spin-offs are very much like directors of adaptations; they tend to latch on to one aspect of a multi-faceted character. Is Mr. Darcy truly proud at first and then humbled by his love for Elizabeth, or was he misunderstood to begin with? Some readers (and authors) choose to believe what Pride and Prejudice tells us: that Darcy was indeed proud and had never really been forced into introspection until he met Lizzy Bennet. However, there are other readers who see beneath the surface of what Jane Austen's narrator (which is obviously biased towards Lizzy Bennet's viewpoint) chooses to describe. These fans normally have the perception that Darcy is not proud, but shy. His problem is not so much that he looks down on the world, but that he (as he says in the original novel) doesn't have the ability to identify or communicate with it. Mary Street takes this route in The Confession of Fitzwilliam Darcy. Yes, Darcy is still indisputably proud in the novel. I don't wish to have you thinking that Street altered the character. However, this spin-off has an undertone of sympathy for the misconceived Mr. Darcy. His vanity is tempered by the fact that beneath the surface he is insecure, uncomfortable, and socially awkward. He really has no idea of how to connect with people, and because of that inability he shies away from all company until he meets the woman that makes him want to come out of his little antisocial hole. 

The best example of what I'm trying to explain (*spoiler*) is in the last few pages of the novel, when Darcy attempts his first kiss. The kiss is botched completely, and Darcy turns away from Elizabeth deeply embarrassed. The point I got from Mary Street's take on Darcy is that he isolates himself in order to appear composed, collected, and unshakable when all he really longs for is for someone to teach him how to express himself. He learns through trial and error. His first attempts go obviously wrong, as evidenced by the first proposal and his early conversations with Elizabeth. However, his love for Lizzy forces him to try again and get it right and eventually he succeeds. 

Yet, even this spin-off has something missing. It was enjoyable, intriguing, and a good read in its entirety, but it is short. In the end, it too possessed a sad lack of depth that left me a little wanting. It's worth the read, and I will not hesitate to conjecture that many of you will find it satisfying and very enjoyable. But keep on the look out! There are better spin-offs lurking in the future. 


  1. The point I got from Mary Street's take on Darcy is that he isolates himself in order to appear composed, collected, and unshakable when all he really longs for is for someone to teach him how to express himself.

    As a shy person, this intrigues me, and I think I'll give this book a whirl if I can find it!

    1. Exactly. I too am very shy with people when I first meet them because, like Darcy, I'm not very good at catching the drift of the conversation and understanding how to contribute. This book really made Darcy much more relatable than I had ever imagined him to be. Thanks for the comment :)

    2. My problem is that I like to think out what I'm going to say before I actually say it -- otherwise, I can get my words hopelessly tangled and end up babbling like a moron while I try desperately to organize my thoughts. Unfortunately, by the time I finish figuring out what I want to say, the conversation has gone in a completely different direction.

      Probably why I'm a writer.