Review: Compulsively Mr. Darcy

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Compulsively Mr. DarcyCompulsively Mr. Darcy by Nina Benneton
Published by Sourcebooks Landmark on February 1, 2012
Genres: Contemporary, Retelling, Romance
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
Source: NetGalley
Goodreads
two-half-stars

For anyone obsessed with Pride & Prejudice, it's Darcy and Elizabeth like you've never see them before! This modern take introduces us to the wealthy philanthropist Fitzwilliam Darcy, a handsome and brooding bachelor who yearns for love but doubts any woman could handle his obsessive tendencies. Meanwhile, Dr. Elizabeth Bennet has her own intimacy issues that ensure her terrible luck with men. When the two meet up in the emergency room after Darcy's best friend, Charles Bingley, gets into an accident, Elizabeth thinks the two men are a couple. As Darcy and Elizabeth unravel their misconceptions about each other, they have to decide just how far they're willing to go to accept each other's quirky ways...

In this modern, rather loose retelling of Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet is a doctor specializing in infectious diseases, working in Vietnam. Her sister Jane is also there, working in an orphanage. The Hursts bring along Charles and Caroline Bingley, and Mr. Darcy on their trip to Vietnam to adopt a child. In this way, they are all thrown together.

As is perhaps unsurprising, I find Jane Austen inspired fiction to be largely disappointing. I mean, what could ever hope to compare to her original work? Still, I do not give up hope and continue to add every single book written about her characters or her to my reading list.

Compulsively Mr. Darcy is, overall, pretty fun and takes a fairly unique view of the characters and the plot. The opening scenes really captivated me, although, I must admit, that that had more to do with the setting (Da Nang in Vietnam) than anything else. I went to Vietnam during college, so I’ve actually been to Da Nang. I recognize the descriptions of the traffic, the spiny fruit Bingley eats in the first chapter, and some of the social rules herein described. That part was awesome.

I also thought it was pretty cool how Darcy’s perfection was reenvisioned as a sever compulsive disorder. That fits so well with our overly diagnosed and medicated modern lifestyle. Charles Bingley, too, suffers from a modern problem: ADHD.

While I was initially impressed by Elizabeth’s career as a doctor, I quickly became disheartened. Despite the author’s constant assertions that Elizabeth is highly intelligent and respected in her field, it’s hard to see her as anything but a ditz. She is such a bonehead, both in her assumptions about people and situations, and in her way of speaking. What doctor would forget to wear a condom before being tested (and what OCD person for that matter)?

All of the characters of the novel are here, in one form or another, but they are all quite different, and there are some new folks as well. I would argue that Darcy is perhaps the least changed. The Jane of this book is much more Lizzy than Lizzy, which was actually kind of interesting to see. Wickham is here, but he doesn’t get to be the big bad of the story, a change I found to be rather refreshing, especially since Lydia got to be slightly different for once. Oh, and, for some strange reason, there’s a crossover, because a couple of characters from Sense and Sensibility make cameo appearances.

What I liked least was all the romance novel type sex going on. Normally, this wouldn’t bother me. I mean, who doesn’t want to live vicariously through fictional characters? However, these scenes were not doing it for me at all. I also didn’t especially like that Elizabeth was a virgin at 28, while Darcy got to be a crazy party animal in the past. What the heck, double standard?!?! The one cool thing about their relationship was that Benneton (I’m guessing this is a pen name) completely changed up the timeline. However, their romance is definitely as cheesily romantic as this song.

One more awkward thing about this novel was that it did that confusing thing where it couldn’t decide whether to retell a story or just happen to have characters of the same names as those in a book do the same things. That wasn’t clear. In the book, there are numerous references to the BBC productions of P&P. This is highly odd, as it seems to imply that these people just happen to have the same names as the characters but not to have noticed. This is a bad thing to do in fiction; I would also like the writers for the recent Get Smart movie to make note of this.

So yeah, if you’re a romance fan, you’ll probably like this, and as Austen-inspired books go, it’s not too bad. There are some clever, amusing things here and it is a quick read.

6 responses to “Review: Compulsively Mr. Darcy”

  1. bas1chs says:

    Hmm, I too love Jane Austen and usually can find redeemable features in JA fan fiction but I’m not sure I could get past some of the points you made. One of the reasons I love Pride and Prejudice and Elizabeth is because of her intelligence and how she conducts herself. To see her as a ditz would be too much for me to get through. I still have this book on my TBR list because of a few other reviews I’ve seen but it won’t be the next one I pick up. Maybe I’ll come back after I finish reading it to have more of a discussion with you about the book.

    Thanks for the review!

    • Christina says:

      Haha, I would love to have a discussion about it. I totally get what you mean about keeping things on the TBR list. I’ve read quite a few Austen-inspired books thus far and they are almost all varying shades of awful. And yet, I will add all of them to my want to read list.

      There were some cool things in this one, but, overall, that just wasn’t what the author chose to focus on, and I think she didn’t spend enough time making the quirks really fit the characters.

  2. Shelver 506 says:

    You had me at Mr. Darcy… and then I read the rest of the review. Thanks for being honest. There are too many beautiful Darcy-inspired stories to stop at only a 2.5

    • Christina says:

      I feel you. I read a lot of these, so you’ll probably see a few come through here. Also avoid The Bar Sinister/Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife at all costs. My review’s on this blog, but I wasn’t rating at that point. It would, however, have unquestionably been a 0.5.

  3. Thank you for your review. I enjoyed reading it

  4. Frank Reviewer says:

    Dear Reviewer, it’s like you read my mind. I googled several reviews of this book after having just completed reading it and I was surprised it got so many good ratings. Your review is the one I can most identify with. The sex scenes were rather off-putting and Lizzy does indeed come across as a ditz. *sigh* It started out promising and yes there are bits and pieces in it which were interesting but generally, I’m rather disappointed.
    I love Austen and anything having to do with her. Now I need something to pick me up after this. Please someone recommend me something worthwhile to read. Sorry if I sound very negative. Just being honest.

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