Archive for the ‘Chick Lit’ Category
Title: Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart
Author: Beth Pattillo
Number of Pages: 272
Summary: Claire Prescott is an unemployed office manager from Kansas City who leaves behind her nice, if somewhat neglectful, boyfriend to attend a Jane Austen seminar in Oxford, England. There, she discovers the original manuscript for Pride and Prejudice titled First Impressions. Rumored to have been destroyed centuries ago, it reveals Austen’s secret struggle to find the right leading man for Elizabeth Bennet. Was she really supposed to end up with Mr. Darcy after all?As Claire pieces together Austen’s original story, she crosses paths with a dashing stranger—her own Mr. Darcy—who causes her to question the direction of her current relationship. But Neil’s unexpected arrival in Oxford complicates Claire’s quest to find her leading man, and she realizes that a true hero can appear in the most unexpected places. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is a lively mixture of humor, romance and intrigue perfect for the Jane Austen fanatic to the hopeless romantic.
Author Bio: Beth Pattillo currently resides in Nashville, Tenn., with her husband and two children. Her passion for all-things Jane Austen began when she studied abroad for a semester at the University of London, Westfield College. She has made regular trips across the pond for the past 20 years, the most recent of which took her on a pilgrimage through Hampshire, where she visited many of the sites featured in her popular book, Jane Austen Ruined My Life. Pattillo is also the author of The Sweetgum Knit Lit Society (WaterBrook Press, 2008), Earth to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2006) and Heavens to Betsy (WaterBrook, 2005), for which she was awarded the RWA RITA (Romance Writer’s Association) award for Best Inspirational Romance. Visit www.bethpattillo.com for more information.
Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart isn’t your typical paperback romance, and for this reason alone I loved it. First of all, the heroine, Claire Prescott, isn’t perfect. Through the course of the novel she realizes her own frailties and flaws and by the end of the book she has made steps towards becoming a better person. She doesn’t blame everyone else for her problems. She learns that having a dashing “Mr. Darcy” sweep her off her feet doesn’t heal all hurts, nor does it rescue her from the realities of life. Her character’s motives and actions rang true for me, and it was refreshing to read a romance that didn’t espouse the notion that all a woman needs is a rich, handsome guy to magically wave away her neurosis by marrying her.
The secondary storyline, that of Claire meeting a slightly daft elderly woman, Harriet Dalrymple, whose greatest secret is ownership of the original First Impressions manuscript (which was destroyed after Jane Austen reworked it into Pride and Prejudice), was a delightful twist in the story. Pattillo imagines how the original plot may have differed from the story we all know, and treats us to her version. I was just as interested as Claire in reading the scraps of manuscript pages doled out to her over the course of a week’s time. For me it was a fun diversion from the main story; for laire it helped provide insight into how her life got off track and the motivation to correct it.
Amidst Claire trying to help Harriet with the secret manuscript and becoming ever more attracted to the dashing James Beaufort, her boyfriend unexpectedly shows up, threatening to ruin the little house of cards she’s built for herself during her week-long excursion in Oxford. Claire has to figure out what to do with an angry boyfriend when she’s got a chance to snag a Mr. Darcy of her own. I was completely satisfied at her solution—and the conclusion of the novel itself.
Overall, Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart is a fun and breezy read. I loved the humor and the light-hearted tone. The only thing I didn’t like is that due to my schedule I could read it only in bits and pieces over the course of a month. I hated having to put it down to attend to more pressing matters–I felt like Claire having to wait for the forgetful Harriet to find another section of the First Impressions manuscript! I recommend this book, especially if you’re tired of reading the same old retread romances.